Special Forces: Team X might as well be called “A Video Game” for all the good a title that generic does, especially because it’s not entirely generic. Certainly, Special Forces isn’t the most original game around –- it’s a third-person cover-based shooter, for crying out loud -– but it has some new elements, and its execution is pretty darn solid.
Before you zip over and buy it, know that SFTX is multiplayer-only, and doesn’t come with a huge amount of content. Instead, SFTX relies on modular content to keep you interested. Whereas your Counter-Strikes and your Calls of Duty will have a handful of completely different maps, SFTX has a whole bunch of map pieces, each one-by-three in size, with three laid out next to each other to make a 3×3 grid map. You (and the other players) get to vote which map pieces make up the map in a given round.
The upside to this system is that quite a large number of possible map combinations exist, and the differing results can provide totally different play experiences. Some of the map segments emphasize lots of indoor, close-quarters combat, while others have big, open spaces littered with rubble to duck behind. The downside is that — due to the fact that they all have to be visually cohesive — it tends to feel like you’re stuck in the same place forever.
That modularity is shared by a broad range of character customisation options, with weapons, gadgets and aesthetic options unlocked through leveling up. So far there has been no obvious imbalance in the weapons, so playing a low-level character doesn’t feel like you’re at a severe disadvantage. You get rewarded with experience points for basically everything you do anyway, so growth is fast.
Special Forces: Team X really tries to play up the team-based aspect of the game, and to that end they increase your rewards if you stick together. But the range of what counts as sticking together is perhaps smaller than it ought to be, and as a result it can feel as though you’re being punished for trying a coordinated flank or for splitting the enemy’s fire. And some of the game’s various modes definitely fit the team-mentality more than others. Capture Point and High-Value Target (where one player is super valuable) certainly make buddying-up worthwhile, but Team Deathmatch tends to favour sides that don’t clump up for grenade volleys. Capture the Flag tends to devolve into a turtle-match, which is just sort of the nature of that game type anyway.
The cover and movement system is a little inconsistent. Sometime it feels great, and sliding against walls and rolling across the ground flows as naturally as an adorable, fresh-faced baby deer being swept downstream to its untimely demise at the hands of millions of litres of water.
And sometimes you find yourself asking why exactly the game thinks it’s fine to slide over the boxes here, but take half a step to the left, and the boxes are less inviting to your frictionless buttocks than the washed-up, bloated corpse of a baby deer, whose torso bursts open at the slightest nudge of your peachy pants-cheek, releasing toxic gasses that make you pass out and miss your graduation, and when you get home your mum asks you where your pants are and why you’re covered in gooey fur and if you’re on drugs and you have to live at Derrick’s house for a week.
- Effective modular map system
- Broad but fair character customization
- Visually unchanging. Why is this construction site so important that they fight over it literally forever?
- Sometimes boxes love it when you slide over them. Sometimes they don’t.