Review by hyoomancrush00r

Reviewed: 11/02/04

You fight a Kaiser-helmeted pitbull in robo-armor. 'nuff said.

Ah, Contra. Ever since the hardcore 8-bit revival this has been one of the most talked-about series aside from the ubiquitous Mario Bros. Even inspiring a bunch of emo-trash kids to wear "The Code" shirts, there's no doubt the Contra series has its roots in rough-and-tough shooting action.

However, as we all know there were two or three forgettable episodes of this largely-successful franchise: Contra Force on the NES, and those two terrible games on the PS1 starring Ray of the Hard Corps series. When people saw screenshots of Neo Contra, with its isometric top-down views, it brought back the PS1 nightmares again. After the semi-successful Shattered Soldier, was Konami letting the whole thing go to the Animal Contras (you'll see) ?

Graphics (9/10)
While there's plenty of the "grittiness" of Shattered Soldier, Neo Contra is more akin to the bright-and-goofy Hard Corps. Things look polished, but when the cutscenes zoom in on Bill he looks cartoony like a Timesplitters-esque character model. No glitches, though. The game's interface never really gets in your way, even with tons of enemies on screen and homing lasers flying around. You might hate the camera angle sometimes, but it's never anywhere near as bad as Devil May Cry got.

Sound (8/10)
Alright, some people are going to complain about that intro song. It's like a jap pop metal that doesn't know where it's going. However, it DOES show that Konami has a sense of humor. The rest of the music is as catchy as Shattered Soldiers was, but less hard guitar scrapes and more synth. I'm pretty sure the sound was ripped straight from Shattered Soldier. Voice acting is decent, but quirky. By quirky I mean hilarious.

Controls (9/10)
They could've gone with the old dual-analog of Smash TV, but they didn't. Frankly, I'm glad. Everything felt just right. Bullets can go 360 degrees instead of just 8 directions like previous games. Good stuff here.

Gameplay (8/10)
Here's where people are going to be most torn. Is it Contra, or isn't it? Well, in a word, maybe. Bill is in it. The term Contra is now being used for any experimental super-soldier. You've even got the spread gun and the old spinning fireball back. The aliens are NOT the main enemy of the game, however, and it's not 2d.
The game plays very much like a Total Carnage/Contra: Shattered Soldier/Ray Force mix. The isometric view and overall feel of the game contribute to a very arcade experience. Switching between the Contra weapons and requiring a high hit rate to proceed past level 5 are very much Shattered Soldier. The Lock-On lasers are straight out of a shooter. You just dash through levels, choosing between your "weak" and "strong" type weapon and when you can't hit something with those, you lock onto it and shoot it that way. The levels are pretty short, and you can easily finish the game in a half hour if you have the slightest clue of what's going on. But the game IS FUN. Arcade games are supposed to be. There are unlockables, and it's nice to see how fast you can tear through the levels with a partner.

Conclusion ... RENT FIRST (8/10)
It seems like Konami just wanted to give the fans a little taste of something different, and they certainly did that. The storyline got a little deeper, and the game itself just reeked of intentional cheesiness. The game is fun, the graphics are sharp, the sound is decent. However, like I said, it's EXTREMELY short. Don't waste 40 bucks on this one. Just be patient, go to Blockbuster and beat it in within your five days. If you like it, buy it for 20 bucks in a year or so.

Rating: 8

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