Review by fzero

Reviewed: 11/17/04

worthy of the title: Contra

Neo Contra is a refreshing new way to experience Contra.

Whereas previous Contra games had a few levels that are played from an overhead or other perspective, Neo Contra is completely devoid of the classic sidescrolling, jumping, and 2-D perspective action. That is not necessarily a bad thing. For you see, this new added dimension of gameplay has been mastered by the creators of Shattered Soldier. And the end result is that Neo Contra surpasses even the likes of Smash TV, Viewpoint, and even the overhead levels found in Super C and Contra III.

The primary perspective used in Neo Contra gives you more space, more depth, more freedom and more danger coming from multiple directions! The game is set up like the game before it. 4 stages that can be completed in any order. the 5th stage is unlocked after that. and depending on your rank, a 6th stage is unlocked. And from there, a good rank will open the climactic Stage 7.

Yes the Hit Ratio and Ranking system has returned. This really gives the game more depth than previous Contras before Shattered Soldier, where you just had to plow through the level with whatever lives you have to see the ending(s). While it's a little easier to increase your hit ratio in Neo Contra, it's sometimes not so easy as it sounds.

The arsenal in Neo Contra is the largest in Contra history!!!!!!!! In Shattered Soldier, you had 6 weapons (3 guns with added charged versions). In Neo Contra you have 3 weapon sets to choose from the start (each set has 3 guns, 2 standard and 1 lock-on). And the fact that you can unlock MORE weapon sets leads to over a dozen ways to kick ass. And they include classics like the spread shot, and fireball.

The weapon system is even more interesting than before. The 3rd gun in each set, is a lock-on gun accessed with the triangle button. This gun is primarily used to hit targets that cannot be reached by the other 2 guns. You simply hold the button, point it at the lockable target, once the indicator is set, let go and let it fly. Different lock-on guns have different amount of shots that can be used at once. Some allow you to lock-on up to 6 targets at once. Some allow 4. you can concentrate them all on one target, or even multiple targets at once.

Another convenient feature is that you can still swap weapons during the gameplay cutscenes. So this lets you get ready before you're in control again. The gameplay cutscenes can be skipped this time, so this really helps those who want to simply keep the action going. Like the previous games, one hit will cause your character to close a life. Although there is no manual jumping in this game. you have two defenses besides 3-D movement. The evasive Dash and the evasive Spin. The dash lets you speedily roll out of the way in the direction you desire. You are still vunerable while doing this, so proper timing and skill is recommended. The Spin makes you invincible during the execution (which is about 2-3 seconds). But it's not fool proof. Timing and knowing when to use it is essential to avoid losing a life.

The stages themselves are masterfully designed!!!! They are packed with even more enemies, firepower and hazards than the ones before it! There is more run and gun action than Shattered Soldier! So that's definitely an improvement. Yes there are still times you may face sub-bosses a little frequently. But not as often as before. So that leaves more room for some good 'ol run and gun action. The environments are truly beautiful and expertly crafted. Veterans will enjoy the Shattered Soldier and Super C references, although overall, the stages are completely original and always fun!

The enemy and subboss layout is extremely well done. You have all kinds of enemies coming from land, air, etc.! And the levels are also packed with stationary defenses and well equipped drones. Not all of them will run at you mindlessly. Some hang back and launch rockets at you, or take cover behind obstacles and occasionally come out to fire at you while they are being supported by other soldiers and defense turrets. The length and depth of the stages also surpass Shattered Soldier. (with one minor exception). The story is really not what action fans are after, but it really gives Neo Contra some added charm. It's by no means meant to be taken seriously! It's all for the sake of having a good time. ^_^ The voice acting may be humorous to some, but they fit each character perfectly and sound great.

Even more so than Shattered Soldier (another awesome game), Neo Contra is the most rewarding Contra game of them all. like SS, there is a war record that keeps track of your stats, a training mode (for even 2 players) that lets you practice in the stages you completed. Plus lots of unlockable extras! Such as a theater section (with over 12 gorgeous CG quality movies!), a gallery section (with over 40 pieces of fantastic artwork!), extra costumes, character(s), and more!! Even after you unlocked everything. Even after you earned Rank S in all 7 stages. This game is so fun that it will always be there when you want something with non-stop action and wild rides! Which brings up the awesomeness of the Contra heroes themselves! The stunts they do in this game far surpass those in countless other games. This level of intensity and 'over-exaggerated' finesse is really a welcoming element that makes our heroes even more badass and unstoppable!

After all, only a Contra can kill a Contra. The fact that they can be killed in the game by lasers, missles, and a few other things are JUST game rules so that the game doesnt become insanely easy. ^_^

Speaking of which, Neo Contra may be considered easy, but that is not entirely true. Lets see how many hours it takes you to complete all 7 stages with S rank and without losing a single life. Even then, none of the enemies and dangers are to be taken lightly. Since they can kill you in one hit. Plus, the game can be as challenging as you make it. Such as never using evasive Dashes or Spins. And using the inferior weapons available. I cannot deny some bosses fall a little too easily, but that doesn't stop the game from being fun.

*Presentation: 10

The intro is very well done. The characters are great. The art, designs and gameplay are at the top of their class. THIS IS CONTRA!!!!!!!!!!!

*Graphics: 10

If you thought Shattered Soldier is a magnificent work of art, then Neo Contra is a divine master of eye candy. Aside from the souped up CG cinematics, The models, stages, and special effects are the best in Contra yet. And what's this? There's more blood and gore than ever before!

* Sound: 10

Even though Akira didnt help with the music this time, the music is still golden. A few SS tracks have made a welcoming comeback, as well as new tracks that will become legendary favorites. The weapons, voices, effects, enemy sounds, plus more truly fit this universe.

*Controls: 10

Yes, it's perfect. Some might ask for Smash TV style firing with the Right Analog Stick. But Neo Contra doesnt need it. Besides, your right thumb belongs on the face buttons. You never know when a split second dash or spin can save your life.

*Story: 10

Finally, a story that doesnt need to take itself seriously like other games. These are truly the best moments storytelling can offer: The moments when you laugh or even raise an eyebrow. ^_^

*Replayability: 10

This is the Contra that keeps on giving. It's fun and it's insane and it's very very memorable like the ones before it. This will be a hardcore gamer's new best friend. And a casual gamer's.....uh..... well it's not for everyone.

Rating: 10

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