Contra: Legacy of War
Jeremy Clarkson is a respected journalist. Ask old Jeremy what his least favourite car is, and he’ll tell you it’s anything by Yugo. Ask him why, and he’ll say “because it has no redeeming features.” Fair enough.Well, it is the opinion of this reviewer that Contra: Legacy ofWar has no redeeming features. Nada. And although Konami’s shoot-’emup is not terrible, it could best be described as dull.
While playing this Belgium-on-a- Sunday of games, no matter how much effort is put in it is almost impossible to get into the mood where you care what happens to the little gun-toting chap under your control. There is a desperate lack of motivation, and what should be an intense adrenaline-assisted feeling of excitement, fear and urgency melts into utter lethargy.
When you take an idea as old as Contra you want to add something new for it to appeal to a new generation of gamers. All that has been added to Contra on the PlayStation is a pesudo 3-D mode which certainly opens up the possibilities of new gameplay, but the graphics generally are sour and blocky and probably would have been accepted back when the 32-bit world was just finding it’s shaky little new-born feet, but are uninterestingly average, poor even, by today’s standards.
Okay, so they have added something new, I amspeaking of course of the cheap gimmick that is the “3-DMode.” Amore accurate name would be “RedMode,” which should be all you need to know. Yes, not only do you get to look like an idiot, figuratively, for paying £40-50 for a game ranking along side cabbage soup in the excitement stakes, you get to look like an idiot literally as you wear the included 3-D glasses and gaze in whimpering disbelief at your new game presented in glorious Dark Red™.
Unlike Magic Carpet’s 3-D mode on the PC, you can’t switch the effect off during play when you feel sick because your eyes are being forced to do something they were not designed for. All this inexplicable laziness nudges Contra into an unhappy place between the old and the new. Now, from what you have learnt in the past, you may be thinking Contra is one of those games with dodgy visuals but old
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Looking at the screenshots on these pages it is possible the 3-D design of the levels could have you believe there is some freedom of movement within the scenery. Nope. Not an inch of it.While your four characters are obviously fully manoeuvrable, they are only able to move within a rigidly defined path. The whole game runs in a tiny corridor. How tedious. Another deception these polygon-built texture mapped graphics may cast is that you might just be able to turn back for a second or two. You can’t. You miss a bad guy, he’s gone. That vital power-up slips just past the border of the screen, forget about it.
Playing Contra in the two playermode provides a small burst of fun, as it evokes the spirit of the original coin-ops prevalent in the Eighties, where you and your mate would spend 50p on it, have a bit of a laugh, and never touch it again. Well folks, it’s 1997, and this is close to 50 quid. No sale. Let’s face it anyway, if a prospective player two turns up at your house, you’re not likely to bring this little gem out for fear of ridicule – “Hey Bob, check out my new game. What’s that? Rotten you say? Here, try it in breath-takingly realistic red…” At £25, Contra would offer decent value for money, but only someone with more cash than sense would fork out twice that.
With so many quality games having just been released for the PlayStation – Tomb Raider, Pandemonium, Star Gladiator – and many in the works if you look at our 1997 preview this issue, it is almost insulting what some developers are throwing out. Give Contra a wide bearth.