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DS  header logo

Elite Forces: Unit 77

For: DS

The B team

Product: Elite Forces: Unit 77 | Publisher: Deep Silver | Developer: Abylight | Format: DS | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Elite Forces: Unit 77 DS, thumbnail 1
There's no getting away from the fact that if Elite Forces: Unit 77 was a film, the script would have the words "Seagal or Norris?" in large scrawl across the title page. It isn't big budget: it's about big bangs and attempted cheesy one-liners as numerous waves of generic grunts are blown away in a hail of screaming hot lead.

Still, this isn't to dismiss the genre's potential. For every dozen On Deadly Grounds, there's an occasional Under Siege. Best forget Braddock: Missing in Action III though.

The set up is nothing if not conventional. The four members of Unit 77 are inserted to an island on which some of the world's most eminent scientists and industrialists are being held by... (actually we skipped the opening movie so we don't know by who. Bad people clearly).

Welcome then to your team: Bill 'The Drill' Matic is the hacker; Kendra Chase, the sniper; TK Richter, explosives expert and driver of vehicles; and finally Dag Hammer, a hulking heavy weapons soldier. You get the picture.

The controls are simple. Tap on the scenery with your stylus to move your soldiers. You choose one to be the leader and the others trot along behind. Madly tap on enemies, crates, explosive oil drums etc to shoot them. Tap on the side panel to switch between soldiers in terms of who's leading the group, access each individual's special skills, use a health pack, or separate and regroup them.

As you'd expect, the first missions act as tutorials - getting you to work with one and then a couple of the team. There are some nice touches to discover. When you select Dag's bazooka, the screen pulls out slightly to give you more range, while Kendra's sniper rifle is activated by moving her crosshair scope around the map.

Such weapons are constrained in terms of available ammo, though, with only three bazooka rounds and five sniper bullets carried at any one time.

In many ways, these weapons are the focus of Elite Forces as your use of them is designed for boss-style adversaries such as helicopter gunships, enemy snipers in guard towers, and chaingun turrets.

In between these encounters, you move your group around the map - which is shown on the topscreen, with red dots displaying the positions of the lesser-or-garden enemies that are attracted to you like ants to jam.

The generic henchman are frankly a nuisance. Because you have to be able to see them before you can shoot them, your focus is generally on the top screen so you can see where the red dots are. Then you position your team in a space without any overhanging trees or buildings to obscure the view, then tap like crazy when they come into view. Move and repeat until the team's made it to the level goal.

Generally this will be an electrical generator that needs to be destroyed, a radar station that needs to be destroyed, or prisoners who need to be rescued. Levels often also require you to perform a sub-goal in one area and then reverse your steps to complete the main goal.

What's annoying about this is that the generic henchman respawn when you re-enter their area. This can be eased as you sometimes get the option to load your troops into vehicles, which provide limited protection and are slightly faster than walking.

Unfortunately, controlling them is a bit fiddly, especially if you want to use them to run the enemy over. It's fun if you can do it, but harder than it looks. It's obviously much more exciting when you eventually get the option of jumping into tanks.

Perhaps the biggest frustration of the game, however, is the requirement to keep all the members of your team alive. It might make sense if it just applied to members who have the skills critical to completion of the particular mission, but as it is it's a major flaw - particularly as there's no option for last-minute resurrections as performed in other squad-based games such as the Conflict console series.

Each level contains automatic save points, of course, but before long you'll find yourself repeating parts of levels more frequently than you'd like. Typically this occurs when you're trying to take out a difficult target such as the dual chaingun turrets in the first prison break level.

You do this with Bill's grenades, but the rest of the team have to come along to provide cover, which means you're juggling troop selection so you can throw his grenades and give health packs to whichever other members are about to die.

It's not insurmountable, but the control method isn't quite slick enough to enable you to pull it off without multiple attempts.

In keeping with the theme of simplicity, the game doesn't offer many options either. Elite Forces: Unit 77 is single-player only and you can play individual levels in a Quick Play mode once you've completed them in the Story mode. There's a gallery to unlock. That's it.

Still, with 12 missions, the basic game is plenty long enough, providing hours of experience, and it's available for around £18. But with the launch of the DSi and its download DSi Shop on the horizon, it does make you think that this sort of game would have made an ideal £10 download, in comparison to being a rather average cartridge-based game.

Hence Elite Forces: Unit 77 ends up being another fairly competent budget DS game that's neither overly exciting nor totally embarrassing. In other words, straight to video.
 
Elite Forces: Unit 77
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 31 March 2009
A simple squad-based touchscreen shooter with the occasional nice touch, Elite Forces: Unit 77 provides a B movie experience
 
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