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Special Forces Team X Review


Game Details

Game Scores


Ryan King

Part Counter-Strike, part Borderlands, part cover-shooter, all brilliant.

Published on Feb 11, 2013

It's 2013 and we've seen every shooter imaginable.

We've seen first-person shooters and third-person shooters, military shooters and cel-shaded shooters, horror shooters, light-gun shooters, multiplayer shooters, abstract shooters, retro shooters and even portal shooters.

If you're a shooting game in 2013, chances are we've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, shot the t-shirt.

And if you're thinking a game called Special Forces Team X doesn't bring anything new to shooters, you're right.

But It's Really Good

That's our concise, why-we're-paid-the-big-bucks counter argument. It's really good. Special Forces Team X doesn't have a single original bone in its body, nor does it offer any ideas you won't have seen done several thousand (possibly) times before in the genre.

But Special Forces Team X is put together with such confidence and such style, you'll ignore feelings of familiarity and find yourself drawn into it anyway.

It's described as a cover shooter but rarely plays out that way, with players often racing about the maps and only snapping to cover when a prolonged battle over distance beckons.

Special Forces Team X is one of the speediest, fastest third-person shooters we've played, with the cover system only really coming into the equation for objective modes as both sides dig in deep.

Unleash The Dogs

The one mechanic that sets Special Forces Team X apart from its genre rivals is that it'll randomly generate map variations before each game. These are picked from tilesets voted for by the lobby, with the resulting map loosely adhering to some vague sense of logic and structure - you won't have three buildings floating in the sky or anything abstract or weird.

But it means you always have that 'learning the map' freshness you do when you first learn a multiplayer map, as leaderboard positions are dictated by the speed with which players learn maps as much as their speed with the trigger finger.

There are other interesting mechanics too, though these riff on well-established genre motifs. Attack dogs for one. Team Bonuses (and team respawns) for another.

There's also customisation powered by your character's level, with weapons and aesthetic items unlocked.

Add these elements together and the resulting game is an interesting mix of Borderlands-lite visuals (including numbers appearing when you shoot enemies), Counterstrike-style map design and Ghost Recon-esque shooting. It's a familiar mix and yet, despite that, it's undeniably engaging.

This is all backed up by sturdy netcode that rarely had any hiccups while we played, so you're focused on fighting the other team rather than fighting lag.

Like we said - Special Forces Team X is really good.

Where The Players At?

The biggest problem Special Team Forces X faces is how long it'll last as a game. There's no single player here, which is probably the right move, but that means it's entirely dependent on the multiplayer component and an online community sustaining the game.

We jumped in a week after launch and had no problems finding matches (although we rarely had more than one or two games before a disconnection to host message kick us out) but the list of open lobbies was worryingly short.

Compared to the high-profile launches of Gotham City Impostors or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Special Forces Team X seems to have been lost in the mix, squeaking onto Xbox Live Arcade without any fanfare or buzz.

Will this last one month down the line? Six months? A year? We're not confident Special Forces Team X will have the long life it deserves and it's a shame. While wholly unoriginal, there's a lot of fun to be had here.

Our advice is if you're sitting on the fence, jump in now and make the most of the community that's there because it could be that sooner rather than later, the lack of community will make your mind up for you.

Version Tested: Xbox Live Arcade


Score Breakdown
6.5 / 10
6.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
6.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
Final Verdict
There's nothing here you won't have seen before save for the randomly generated maps but even so, it's really good fun and one of the better XBLA shooters. We hope that the online community sticks around for the long haul, as the future of this game entirely depends on them.

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Game Details
Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date:
1200 MP
Zombie Studios
Third-Person Shooter
No. of players:
8.0 /10
Accomplished, smart and ruddy good fun, if almost completely unoriginal. Big question mark over its longevity though.
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