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GBA Review - 'Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever'

by The Cookie Snatcher on Nov. 15, 2002 @ 8:23 a.m. PST

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is the sequel to the original title Ecks vs. Sever on Game Boy Advance. Ecks and Sever have joined forces in a mission-based narrative that follows their progress as they combat a multi-national weapon-running cartel abroad and on home soil. As the story unfolds, they realize that the whole world is in extreme danger...

Genre: FPS
Publisher: BAM!
Developer: Crawfish Interactive
Release Date: 10/02

GBA fans with a keen eye may realize that this game is actually the second Ecks VS Sever title to be released on the platform. The first one, which was unveiled last year, was supposed to be the only game. But, as is the case sometimes in Hollywood-ville, the movie on which it was based was extremely delayed in its release. So instead of waiting until the movie hit theatres, the developers of the previous Ecks VS Sever game decided to go ahead and release it, thinking, and rightly so, that no one would know it was actually based on a film. So now we have this second release of the game and I’m glad to say that it is not just a marginally updated rehash of the original. While it retains the original’s foundation of being an FPS wherein you can choose to play as the Agent of your choice, it is a completely new and original experience in its own right.

The first change in the formula from the first game comes in the form of its mission-style approach to the genre, wherein you’ll be given a set of objectives to complete. You are initially given the choice to play as either Agent Ecks or Agent Sever, and unlike the previous title, whom you choose actually makes a difference. That’s right, there are two sets of levels that can only be completely experienced by playing as both agents. Instead of simply barging into a room and unloading seemingly endless supplies of lead into your opponents, you’ll need to do some exploration and approach scenarios with a more “strategical” mindset.

Controlling your Agent is simple enough and in this regard it bares more than a passing resemblance to the first Ecks VS Sever. You move around using the d-pad, strafe with the triggers, shoot with A, and B is used for weapon cycling and activating. The action moves along at a fast-paced and steady clip, much like Duke Nukem Advance or Doom. The look-sensitivity is a little sluggish though, and surprisingly there is no option to modify it. Though that seams to be about the only thing the developers overlooked as they included left and right handed setups, multiple control configs, and a contrast slider.

The name of the game is “Ballistics” so there sure as hell should be some major firepower in this title, and, unsurprisingly, there is. You’ll come across nine unique firearms through the course of the game ranging from the obligatory pistol-type weaponry up to more exotic boom-makers like the Heckler & Koch OICW and for when you absolutely have to clear out of room of mindless thugs there is everybody’s favorite: the Missile Launcher. Other cool pick-ups worth noting include three different types of grenades, infrared goggles, and Kevlar body armor.

Visually, Ballistic Ecks VS Sever looks right up to par with the best of FPS’s on the handheld system. And compared to last year’s EvsS it is noticeably improved in regards to texture quality, animation, and scope. The opening cinema is particularly impressive and sports digitized photographic satellite-to-earth illustrations as seen from the eye-in-the-sky. The developers upped the ante even more in the sound department, the music is very fitting but the real area of interest is the sound effects. Nearly every on-screen action has a realistic digitized sound effect to represent it, and the end result is definitely an improvement over any previous GBA FPS.

Overall, the developers seam to have gone to great lengths to make this game stand out from the previous title. The included multiplayer component is a great addition, allowing up to four Agents to simultaneously get in on the action. Though the requirement for every person to own a cartridge is a bit far-fetched and so it is highly unlikely that a notable amount of people will enjoy this feature. But based solely on the merits of its single-player campaign Ballistic Ecks VS Sever offers up more than enough entertainment-value to warrant a purchase. Fans of the original game will particularly want to check this one out.

Score: 8.1/10

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