Contra: Shattered Soldier, the long awaited and highly anticipated grandfather of shoot 'em ups returns. After a rather embarrassing release for Playstation (Contra: Legacy of War) which was designed by Appaloosa, Konami takes back it's brainchild and returns to the roots. I was surprised to see that the main character in Contra had a name, to me it's just been "the guy in the blue pants" and even more surprised to see that a girl has taken the red panted guy's place.
The main characters this time around are Bill Rizer, former war hero who along with Lance stopped the alien invasion in the alien wars, at the moment imprisoned for the murder of Lance. Bill's partner this time around is a cyborg created to be the ultimate soldier, Lucia. Bill get released from prison to destroy the evil "Blood Falcon" along with Lucia.
At a glance it looks like a very well polished sprited game, but it's much more than that. Konami chose to use some kind of 3D-engine to get some depth into the game, so as a fact everything in this game is polygonal. It really does wonders with the feeling, all the explosions, fireworks etc... It feels and looks really chaotic, sometimes it can be hard to make out where your character is, because you're the middle of an inferno. The animations of the characters are decent; it doesn't have many movements thought, as Bill can only run, jump and crouch.
Sounds / Music:
If I had a flamethrower I would like it to sound just as the one in Shattered Soldier, as for grenade launcher and machine gun, they sound as they should, simple as that. The sound effects in this game are pretty average, some effects "drown" behind all the explosions and machine gunning,
although I wish that Bill would sound like he did in Alien wars when he dies.
The music in this game is hard and fast, a lot of electric guitars and drums and it starts right away. The music tells you to push harder, shoot more and make that hit rate max out. Along with it there are some of the Contra classics, like "the game over jingle" and "stage clear music". You can't expect to see too much talking in this game though, since all your work is just to exterminate the aliens.
You can use three different weapons in the game: A machine-gun, a flamethrower and a grenade
launcher. Each of those weapons has a “special” shooting mode. For example, the machine-gun throws some kind of device that spins and sprays bullets on the screen. The flamethrower can fire an energy-blast, and the grenade launcher can shoot some seeking missiles. None of those weapons cause more damage really. You just have to use the proper weapon depending on the situation. You don’t need to collect those weapons, like we used to in the old Contra, you already start with those three weapons available to use.
Referring to the difficulty level, I would say it’s pretty hard, since it's a non-stop shooting game; you stop shooting, you are dead, as simple as that. Every phase of the game has like a pair or three of 'bosses' that you got to defeat, and of course the hardest is the final one of every mission. You have to remember always how to kill them, because they always use the same fighting styles; for example the final boss of the first stage is like an hybrid between a turtle and a face that pukes. You just have to remember what he does, because he will always do the same. The enemies' AI is not a real AI, meaning that they are always going to act the same way, although the game still will be really hard as a bunch of enemies, like in original contra game, are going to try and kill you. Also Bosses' AI is nothing to be proud of, so don't expect any form of alien brain activity in game.
There are only 5 levels in the game, 4 are accessible from the start, and another one will be unlocked once you completed the rest, therefore there's not enough levels available to make the gaming experience last long. About the enemies: there's a lot of different enemies in every phase so you wont get bored of killing new aliens in every mission.
Multiplayer of this game has nothing special to mention, same gameplay as single player, just, it is a bit easier, since there are no more aliens to kill nor more enemies in general opposed to 2 times more players.
Konami has made a pretty decent remake of the old Contra in my opinion, although, unlike the original, the gameplay is very fast. If you are a fan of the shooting games and liked the old game, you sure have to buy this one because I bet you would like to play and remember good old times.