By: Jared Black
GBA is an amazing little beast. Despite some questionable hardware
issues (among them only having two face buttons and a minuscule
d-pad), it has proven itself to be an amazing handheld system. One
of the most impressive ways that itís done this is by being able
to handle the FPS genre with relative ease, one that many thought
would never be possible on a 2D handheld. While the genre was kicked
off with a mediocre game (BackTrack), itís since proven
that it belongs with an excellent port of Doom
and now the equally impressive Ecks vs. Sever.
In what may be a
first for any system, this game is based upon a movie that hasnít
even begun production yet (with possible stars including Lucy Liu as
Sever and Vin Diesel as Ecks). The story is that a FBI agent (Ecks)
and a rogue NSA agent (Sever) donít like each other at all. Theyíre
on opposite sides of the law, with Ecks trying to stop Sever from
doing various acts of badness. Naturally, each is motivated by
his/her own personal revenge, and theyíll also soon discover that
they share a common enemy. Itís a setup that would make Hollywood
proud because, well, thatís where it came from.
This story plays
out over a total of 24 different missions, with 12 each for Ecks and
Sever. It actually only features 12 levels however, as Ecks and
Sever have different objectives to carry out in each level. The
player chooses which storyline to follow, and that will determine
whoís eyes you see the story from. For example, if youíre
playing as Ecks one level will involve you chasing Sever, while itís
opposite will have you running away if youíre controlling Sever.
levels, the storyline is carried out via scrolling text of a court
hearing. Each level is actually taking place in the past (with the
court hearing being now), as Ecks and Sever describe what happened
in the past to the court. Itís actually fairly effective for mere
scrolling text, as the flashback setup and good dialogue tell the
story in fine fashion. Naturally cutscenes wouldíve been much
better (Iíd at least like to see what they look like), but it gets
the job done.
Being that this
is a GBA FPS, the gameplay is somewhat limited. Much like Doom,
thereís no looking up/down/around. L & R control strafing, A
fires whatever weapon is selected, B is the action button (opening
doors), and L&R together perform a crouch. The crouch is really
the only difference between this game and Doom, but itís a pretty
significant one as it adds strategy by allowing you to duck behind
crates and other objects. Then again, this game is missing one key
part of Doomís appealÖthe auto-map. Itís not a big loss
however, as most missions are fairly linear and this gameís added
detail make it easier to nagivate.
Ecks vs. Sever
is a lot more focused on strategy than Doom is. In addition
to the crouch move, each mission can have one or several different
objectives that need to be accomplished. These range from simply
getting out of an area in a specified amount of time to finding a
specific item located in the level. This is in sharp contrast to Doom,
which is simply about making it out alive. Itís also a much slower
game than Doom, which allows for duck and cover tactics to
play a bigger role.
vs. Sever is a good-looking gameÖby GBA standards. Naturally
compared to FPSes on any post-16 bit console system itís lacking,
but it stands up well enough on the platform. While it doesnít
feature the impressive lighting effects that Doom does and it
doesnít run nearly as fast, there is a lot more detail to be found
in each environment. It also features the Thermal Enhancement
Goggles, which provide a neat nightvision-like effect in certain
The sound is
nothing impressive. What music there is sounds great, but
unfortunately thereís no music in the levels themselves. The sound
effects are merely average, as most weapons sound pretty tinny. And
finally enemies never utter a peep, whereas they at least grunt in Doom.
- The storyline
is intriguing, and shines above other GBA FPSes.
gameplay with a variety of objectives and more thoughtful
are nice and detailed, and the game still stays fast enough to
slower, which may turn off FPS fans weaned on Doom or Quake.
For my money, Ecks
vs. Sever is the best FPS to hit the GBA yet. While itís
slower than Doom, the better mission structure, storyline,
and strategic gameplay make it overall the better game. If youíre
looking for an adrenaline rush than get Doom, but if youíre
looking for a more thoughtful FPS than this is the one to get.