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Ecks vs. Sever

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Crawfish
Publisher:  BAM!
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  FPS
ESRB:  Teen
Date Posted:  12-20-01

The 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.

In between 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.

Graphically, Ecks 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 dark environments.

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.

Highs:

  • The storyline is intriguing, and shines above other GBA FPSes.
  • Strategic gameplay with a variety of objectives and more thoughtful gameplay.
  • Environments are nice and detailed, and the game still stays fast enough to be fun.

Lows:

  • Itís slower, which may turn off FPS fans weaned on Doom or Quake.

Final Verdict:

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.

Overall Score: 9.1

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