Written by: J.H. Longman
Released earlier this year, the turn based strategy game that is Code Name: S.T.E.A.M came to the Nintendo 3DS and now, it’s our turn to talk about it. From the get go, the first thing you notice when playing is the comic book look the game possesses, which when playing with the 3D on, looks pretty freaking neat, just like the fact that the game opens up in a fantasy Steam Punk world, which is just about to fall victim to an alien invasion, what fun!
The game starts with Henry Fleming, our protagonist who working at the US embassy, was going over the security detail, when the attack started. Arming himself with a rifle he liberated from a fallen soldier, he is ready to report for duty. Fighting his way across to the goal posts on the other end of the levels, he manages to encounter good friend and old pal John Henry. The two then spend the rest of the mission trying to get to safety as they fight their way through a horde of icy aliens. They are then successfully rescued by the airship Lady Liberty, which is only captained by Honest Abe, President Abraham Lincoln himself, who tells Henry and John that the city is under attack before he conscripts them into a strike force. A strike force by the name of S.T.E.A.M (Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace).
Weird and whacky huh and the weirdness keeps going, because before you even get to leave England, to only have to go and save Queen Victoria, but it’s okay because the cowardly Lion from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has decided he is not so much of a coward and does what he can to help you, along with Peter Pan’s Tiger Lily and Tom Sawyer. Now because that’s still not enough, Lion’s friend Scarecrow, joins you in battle much later on and he really can’t wait to help out with his recovery items and more.
This is a game of aliens, combat, strategy and general weirdness, but it is very slow, not slow as in damn that slug is taking forever to win this race, but slow as in it takes a while to get really thrilling, which is a highly negative point, because unless you put the time in to get there, you can actually get bored of the game and for some go off it completely. Still at least it has the library at the Miskatonic University, which for a number of gamers, was a high point, and found it to be fresh, but I wasn’t as blown away by the concept myself.
I put the time in and really tried to make a go at playing this game, but I just wasn’t sold. I didn’t and I still don’t, like it, especially the moving of the camera on the bottom screen, it always seemed unresponsive for me, so looking round was a nightmare, especially when playing a strategy game where instead of having an aerial view of everything, your eyes are on the ground. Meaning should there be any alien menace about to creep round the corner, well near the corner and will creep round it when it is the aliens turn to move, is to be on the ground peeking round the corner. I also detested having Henry telling me “I’m out of steam” over and over. I know you are out of steam, I was the one who made you shoot the Slashers and tried to get you to safety, so you don’t have to say it another hundred odd times.
I loved the look of the world, the anaesthetic, the colours, all of it, even the weapons, but I just didn’t like the gameplay, as I found it more boring than challenging and I’ll be honest, I really didn’t like the characters, their dialogue was just atrocious at times and I couldn’t root for them. I actually found myself cheering on the few occasions when they aliens killed me.
Well with all of that said, it is time to bust out my list of Pros & Cons:
-The general style of the world and the wackiness of it is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face, especially when playing with the 3D function on. It is fun for all as this game allows up to four players to play together, embarking on a Four Poke version of a Four Swords adventure.
-There is a medal system involved, which is very cool as they can unlock new sub-weapons.
-The game does support amiibos, as certain ones will actually add new characters to the roster, characters such as Marth, Ike, Robin and Lucina. That’s right, it’s a real Fire Emblem quartet, so if you’re not a fan of the other characters, well there are certainly four you wouldn’t mind playing with, provided you have their amiibos.
-Abe Lincoln is Captain of an airship. I repeat Abe Lincoln is Captain of an airship!
-The game enforces strategy at every turn, making sure you have no choice but to split your team up, just so you can conquer, plus with respawning enemies, staying in one area firing away will do you no good.
-The fresh perspective of seeing the battle as it happens, as opposed to the usual seeing everything and being able to plan every move out in the first instance, as if it was a game of chess.
-The story just seemed so lacking. Better thought out than that of Tri Force Heroes, but by only a small margin.
-The poor dialogue had me wincing every time I heard it.
-Moving the camera on the bottom screen was and still is a nightmare, even after eight hours of gameplay.
-The characters are in this amazing whacky world and yet they seemed bored of it, which you would consider to be normal behaviour as they live in this world, so to them it is normal, but even they are just so tiresome.
-“I’m out of steam.” And “They must have heard me clunking around,” just had this way of really getting under my skin, wanting to give up playing entirely.
-It is too drawn out and slow before the good stuff happens. You want a game to grab you by the throat and this just didn’t to it, because when that time finally came, for me it was just way too late and I was looking for excuses to stop playing it.
Not every game can be a winner and for me, this is one of those games, I like a good strategy as much as the next gamer, divide and conquer is my jam, and for a game like this where it will keep spawning enemies, forcing you to advance, it’s the type of playground I enjoy, but for everything I liked, there was just more I hated about it, therefore it is only fitting the game earns my lowest score to date of 6.3/10.0 dead Slashers.
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.