Crisis Zone. Namco (2004) PlayStation 2

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I am going to do a top Light gun Games list soon, and to do that I want to get a few games out of the way. So apologies to the many people who don’t like On-Rails shooters as much as me.

time_crisis_-_crisis_zone

Crisis Zone, also known as Time Crisis – Crisis Zone, and if you can’t already tell is a Light Gun game spin off of the Time Crisis series. Originally released in 1999 in the arcades using a nifty plastic Steyr Mannlicher TMP for the light gun. We were then treated to a home port in late 2004.

Gameplay

Light Gun Game… So plastic gun, screen, pew pew and like the Time Crisis series (and Gunfighter) you use a button on the gun to duck off screen to reload. You also get a choice of mission order for the first story. Complete the 3 initial missions, and unlock the final level/boss fight.

The main difference is that instead of having an over powered pistol that kill everything in one shot, you now have a machine gun. And with that there are issues…

When you're not shooting, the game looks decent

When you’re not shooting, the game looks decent

The Game

Having a Machine Gun makes the game a little too passive. You press and hold the trigger and don’t let go except to reload. You don’t need to worry about accuracy, and the 40 bullet clip is enough to spray your load all over the screen. So while the shooting is accurate, it is very underwhelming. Added on top of this is a Vampire Night style health bar, it makes sense since a machine gun and no health would be OP. But it’s kinda of annoying and unintuitive.

The only thing you need to watch for is the is the CONSTANT red circles of death. Unlike Time Crisis 2 where you got a brief red bullet indicating an incoming hit, in Crisis Zone you’ll get a red reticle, you have time you shoot the enemy and prevent the attack, but on later levels you’ll have 6-7 of these at once. You do get a beep noise to indicate this too, but that is annoying over time. Which leads to the next issue.

Cheap Hits

Jesus you’ll take a lot of cheap hits. Whether this is a bloke with a knife jumping out on you, or the fact that the enemies can hit you as you come out of a duck. But also, the bloody beeping when an enemy has locked on. On the second story mission literally every enemy will lock on. This means all you’re hearing is bleep, and seeing are red circles! There is fun in the manic nature of this, but even on easier difficulties it feels very unfair. The difficulty curve is simply wrong.

On 7 separate playthroughs, this guy got me every single time...

On 7 separate playthroughs, this guy got me every single time…

The Bosses

Are a chore… They go on for too long, and the only one that makes sense is the tank. Against the tank, you’re shooting different parts of the tank. It makes sense for them to have multiple health bars. Why the hell do the two black guys have 15 life bars each? I just shot the fat one 400 times in the face with a machine gun, why does he have a 4th/5th/6th phase! Same with the skinny one throwing knives at you.

Cunt Waffles

Cunt Waffles

The bosses are probably the easiest thing, as they have attacks that are so telegraphed you have time to go make a cup of tea before they hit you. Apart from the Helicopter.

Fuck the Helicopter.

Story

The evil United Resistance Defence Army (URDA) have taken over a shopping mall in London. The government orders the Special Tactics Forcess (STFSquad 1 to liberate the shopping centre, and is led by Claude McGarren (Croad Macgalain in arcades). There is a stupid twist for the 4th act, but it is so pants on head retarded it isn’t worth mentioning.

The second story mode is a simple kidnap plot. See Time Crisis: Project Titan.

Because of the Machine Gun, the screen always has a horrible gray film over it

Because of the Machine Gun, the screen always has a horrible gray film over it

Other modes?

Once you beat the main story, you unlock the 2nd mission. This is 2 longer levels, followed by a 3rd level/boss fight. Beat that, and you unlock what is effectively Time Crisis 3 mode. This is the two story missions, but with more enemies, and the ability to change weapons. This is where the game starts to come into its own, and becomes more fun.

The problem is, unlocking these features is a chore. In Time Crisis II, if you do arcade, and fail you are given extra lives credits. The game scales its difficulty to your ability. Crisis Zone with all its cheap hits says “fuck you” when you fail, and you have to try again, and lower the difficulty like the pansy you are.

Finally, after this there are “Crisis Missions” these are effectively training modes, but they are so ludicrously hard that I can’t beat a single one (of about 50). These include things like “shoot 50 men in 25 seconds”, “get a combo of 200 in 40 seconds”, “don’t duck and kill everything for 50 seconds” and such, it reminds me of the Point Blank 2 levels in their unfairness… I can’t get more than half way on any of these missions, and I am fairly good at on-rails games. The game is just unforgivingly hard.

Beat all of those, and you unlock 2 gun mode. I loved this in TCII, but I honestly don’t have the patience to unlock it in Crisis Zone.

That is NOT how she is dressed on the box art!

That is NOT how she is dressed on the box art!

Conclusion

At it’s heart Crisis Zone is solid, and the shooting is accurate. The problem is it simply isn’t any fun as the machine gunning isn’t as fun as it sounds on paper.

There is also lack of multiplayer until you unlock EVERYTHING, at which point you will have exhausted the fun.

The machine gun gives you a headache, and the bosses drag. If you stick with it though, things become more fun. But this might be Stockholm Syndrome rather than the game being good…

Pros: Some bosses are fun, there is a story…

Cons: Most bosses are not fun. Cheap hits, more cheap hits, and even more cheap hits.

45%

Back in the Day

Crisis Zone was received with average reviews, and scored 6-7 out of 10s across the board.

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