December 27, 2000
X Squad is one of Electronic Arts' few non-sports titles on the Playstation 2. This game is set in the year 2037 when a group of terrorists have taken control over a secret military complex. Your task it to take in the X Squad, which is made up of 4 people, and eliminate the enemy to regain control of the base. It may sound fairly standard, but there is a couple of additions to the game to distinguish it from so many other mindless shooters.
X Squad starts off very tame. The first level will have you activating switches, collecting items and shooting the odd enemy. Not very exciting, especially for a so-called action game. However, from the second level things really start to heat up. The number of opponents increases considerably while their accuracy also increases. X Squad includes an auto-aim feature which makes the game a lot easier as manually aiming on an opponent about 3 pixel's high is almost impossible. One great feature in this game is the ability to buy new weapons and equipment when you complete the level. These weapons include machine guns, flame throwers, riot (shot) guns and others. Unfortunately grenades are no where to be found which is a shame as they would have been great fun to use around corners when you are pinned down with enemies using machine guns and rocket launchers.
It's a shame that X Squad only supports one player as it would have made an excellent multi-player game. Issuing orders to the other team members is very easy to do, however it doesn't add a great amount to the complexity of the game and feels like an opportunity which is great in theory but doesn't quite work as well as it should. One thing you will need to do is swap equipment between team members. If someone is killed they can be revived with the use of a first aid pack although it will only restore a small portion of their health, not their entire health as if they were alive.
With all these negative points you are probably thinking that this game is a write off. Not so. X Squad proves to be an exciting shooter with some great action sequences and gameplay. The missions are fairly tough, especially if you don't pick the easiest difficulty level and the missions are huge and usually take around an hour to complete each one. The computer AI in the game is also fairly strong with opponents taking cover when under fire, or running off when the action gets too hot for them. Also impressive are the bosses who take some planning and a lot of skill to defeat.
X Squad is not going to win any awards for the graphics. The levels are a little too bland and the enemies all too similar. The cut-scenes, while impressive, still don't come close to those found in Capcom's Resident Evil or Square's Final Fantasy series' of games. The animations on all the characters are respectable as well although their silver shine while shielded seems out of place in such a gritty and realistic world.
Sound wise this game is fairly decent. The music is fast paced to match the action and has a dance beat to it while never standing out as dancy music. The sound effects are also very impressive with each weapon having it's appropriate sound. During the levels you will hear the opposition talking either to themselves or shouting out to you.
Sure X Squad is not the best game ever, but it is pretty good. The biggest fault is the length of the game, it's a little too much on the short side. The gameplay is fairly solid with some great teamwork and plenty of action throughout. A stronger storyline would have been helpful to setting up the game but if you after some action and can't wait for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty in late 2001 then X Squad should fill the gap nicely.