SEAL Team 12
May 12, 2012 8 Comments
SEAL Team 12 comes to us via Social Loner Studios, the nutjobs behind the hilariously absurd Bird Assassin. I have to admit, I didn’t think SEAL would be any good. I think my exact words to Brian were “oh great, another TwickS on XBLIG that tries to ape some 80s shooter I never played.” Plus it was overpriced at 240 Microsoft Points, because some developers hold on to their belief that their game will sell despite that price point. It’s kind of cute in a demented “twenty-year-old still believes in Santa Claus” kind of way.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find SEAL Team 12 to be a pretty decent game. The idea is the world is being threatened by the Guardians Of Devastation, or GOD for short. Ah, I see what you did there, Social Loner Studios. Actually, Stevie Wonder can see what you did there on account of the joke being run into the ground about half-way through the game. Sure, there’s enough anti-GOD puns to make Christopher Hitchens’ corpse obtain the rare status of “double rigor” if you catch my drift, but damn do they lay it on a little too thick. The rest of the humor mostly works. Every stage begins with an NPC character (that is wearing a red-shirt for double the geek points) being killed by whatever is the newest enemy added to the game. This actually caused me to laugh out loud a few times. The only time it fell flat was when the dead man walking was named Kenny. I accurately predicted a horrible “oh my God, they killed Kenny” joke, and then watched in disgust as the prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus Christ, people! When the guys who created the joke realize it’s not funny anymore and drop it, maybe it’s time to get a fucking clue.
The game itself is a typical Commando-style “walk upwards, kill dudes, walk upwards a little more, kill more dudes” twin-stick shooter . If this was done straight-laced, it would have been boring. Thankfully, the game has what so many XBLIGs don’t: personality. The witty dialog that opens every stage, the moments where you see enemy conversations, and the well done cast of characters. Considering that the genre couldn’t possibly be more tired if it took an entire bottle of Valium, the effort to dress it up is admirable. When you strip away all the ascetics, SEAL Team 12 is as generic as it gets. Walk, shoot, throw grenades, pick up weapons, occasionally hop in a tank, fight a few bosses, end credits. Quite frankly, everyone should approach a game like this with skepticism.
And it’s not like what is here is done perfectly either. There are a few problems. The weapon selection is limited and clichéd. All weapon pick-ups are done via duel-wielding, mapped to the left trigger to fire, while your right hand always retains the default machine gun. The setup works, but there’s not enough weapon drops, and what is here is limited. Some of the guns, particularly the flame-thrower, are worthless. You get an unlimited amount of normal grenades, but you can’t stack any special ones you pick up. Given how outlandish the plot and characters were, they should have gone nuts with the variety of guns. But they didn’t, and the game suffers a lot for it.
A bigger problem is the game becomes a bit of a bullet-hell in the final stages. Let’s be clear about something: bullet-hells work in space-shooters when you’re a nimble ship and the battlefield leaves plenty of room to maneuver. They tend not to work if you’re a clunky, slow-moving steroid freak that has various obstacles you have to walk around. The game got so ridiculous at the end that we had to swallow our pride and set the difficulty to easy. Shameful for sure. Not as shameful as, say, announcing a fake contest for a popular new release on Twitter, then creating a fake account designed to be the “winner” five minutes after you announce the contest. Then retweeting posts from people your original account follows to pad things out. And not remembering to try to type different than you typically do. Or even more brazenly, only retweeting one person’s “wow, I’m so excited, I hope I win!” tweet out of the dozens you receive from gullible people who think you actually have something to give away, and having it be from the fake account you just made five minutes after your fake contest began, making the fix so obvious that a person could accurately predict to multiple witnesses the outcome of the “drawing” for the second straight contest you’ve held. I mean, theoretically, if your contest was a real random drawing, nobody could possibly predict the outcome of the winner once, never mind twice in a row. Finally, as soon as your fake contest is over, you never Tweet from that fake account again, just to finally and officially confirm what an oblivious loser you are for thinking nobody would catch on. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
Despite a few hang-ups, SEAL Team 12 is really well done. Yea, it offers nothing new as a game, but it’s still fun. In fact, I’m kind of surprised at how well it works in both single player and co-op. Yea, the price point is kind of stupid. Sure, some of the jokes fall flat. You know, Social Loner Studios have been off my radar, but they’re actually 2 for 2 here at Indie Gamer Chick. But, they haven’t made a leaderboard contender yet. They probably have the talent to do so, so I’ll be keeping an eye on them. Well, I’m also doing that because I think they’re fucking insane and might kill and eat me if I turn my back on them.