Narco Terror is a name that sounds promising. The premise also sounds like it would make a great game; a top-down, twin-stick shooter with a lot of enemies, many things to explode, different weapons and ammo types, and vehicles. It sounds positively awesome, like a top-down Just Cause 2. It definitely wants to feel like an old action movie from the 80s, with it's terrible script and ridiculous situations, but this has been done before in Toy Soldiers: Cold War, and more recently Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, both of which were fantastic, high quality titles. Is Narco Terror worth playing then, or should you just stick with those? Read on to find out.
Narco Terror starts with your character literally punching a helicopter until it sets on fire, to get information from the pilot. It instantly sets the tone of the game as over-the-top and ridiculous. Straight away trhe level starts, and you're swarmed by guys with guns, grenades and machetes. It is at no point hard though, as your basic guns with unlimited ammo do a fine job of mowing everyone down. Still, you can pick up ammo power-ups, which grant you bog-standard bonuses like fire damage and armour piercing rounds. Setting ten guys on fire with one shotgun round is always satisfying. So this is basically what you'll be doing for the majority of the game. Running through the very linear levels, and shooting the cloned enemies.
Now and then you'll get a different section, which tries to mix up the gameplay a little bit. In some levels you'll find a mounted turret, which can kill and destroy much faster, but it's not really that different from the standard running sections. One level sees you piloting a plane with machine guns for killing attacking helicopters and planes, and bombs for dropping onto gun-boats and innocent villages. This level is definitely the most fun you can have, and it's actually a shame that there isn't more of it.
There is a cooperative mode, allowing you to play with a friend either online or locally. Playing with a friend makes any game better, so this is clearly the best way to play Narco Terror. The game is still ridiculous, but at least you have someone to laugh about it with. It also allows from drop-in/drop-out play, meaning that you can be joined or abandoned at any time without losing your place in the level. It certainly makes the whole cooperative mode more streamlined and accessible.
Graphically, it's nothing spectacular. The top down view means that you generally see everything from a distance, and it looks nice enough. It's in the cut-scenes that you really get to see things up close, and the textures all look a little dated and unpolished. The music is very generic, typical action movie music, and whilst it's not bad in any way, it's a little unimaginative.
Narco Terror is not as awesome as the opening level promises. The repetitive gameplay and narrow, linear levels are the game's biggest problem, and whilst there are some saving graces (the plane level, cooperative mode), it's just not enough. You'll have fun for five or ten minutes, but there aren't many reasons to see this through to the end. If you want an awesome twin-stick shooter, go buy Renegade Ops and just forget about Narco Terror.
by Louis Gardner