The light-gun game has become a dying breed, much like the arcade scene where it originated. Konami's Silent Scope franchise stands as one of the last original series in the genre to make a splash. Franchises such as Sega's Virtua Cop and House of the Dead, which revived the genre in arcades after a slow period, stayed pretty close to the standard rail shooting model. However, the Silent Scope games have always had a bit more in common with Namco's Time Crisis series because of their gameplay, which featured unique mechanics that livened things up some. As evidenced by their name, the Silent Scope games featured a scope mounted on the light gun in the arcade cabinet, which let you target your quarry. Silent Scope Complete is an upcoming Xbox compilation, and it features four incarnations of the series: Silent Scope, Dark Silhouette: Silent Scope 2, Silent Scope 3, and Silent Scope EX. We tried out a preview version of the game to see how development is coming together.
The Silent Scope games cast you in the role of a special agent charged with stopping evildoers by using his sniping skills. Over the course of the various entries in the series you ended up clashing with a motley collection of eccentric foes. The franchise has always managed to liven up its premise--stopping evildoers--by injecting a healthy dose of goofiness into the proceedings with over-the-top bosses and some B-movie plots. The later entries in the series introduced story elements, such as specific playable characters, each with a unique path through the game, and lengthier in-game cinematics between levels.
As far as gameplay goes, all the games in the collection stay true to their arcade roots and use a linear structure that puts you on rails through an environment. As you clear enemies in a certain area you can move on to the next. In some cases you'll be given a choice about where to go next. The proceedings are timed, which will keep you on your toes. The only way to put more time back on the clock is to take out enemies. Although the action has stuck pretty close to the aforementioned model since the first game, the levels have seen some changes, and there's more variety in your targets. In addition, the home console versions have contained training modes, shooting ranges, and unlockable features for you to test your skills with, and they have featured two-player support that lets you and a friend play through together--all of which has been retained in the Xbox game.
The controls are simple: You just have to worry about moving your aiming sight. You can adjust the sight's level of zoom via the left trigger for more precise shooting. For the console versions, some tweaks have been made to the mechanic--for instance, you now have the ability to slow down your aiming cursor--to make up for the lack of a rifle and scope peripheral. However, the gameplay has stayed solid. The Xbox still doesn't feature a scope peripheral, but it does offer purists a bone. The game features light-gun support for the first time. However the game seems to handle a bit better with the normal Xbox controller because of the game's reliance on precision aiming and control.
The graphics have been freshened up for the Xbox version, but they haven't undergone a massive overhaul. The overall performance is good, and the detail is modest but serviceable, although you'll find instances of weak textures here and there. The various environments you encounter in the game offer a good assortment of locales to go through. The collection shows off how the series has expanded in scope and detail, with the first game featuring a more modest set of areas and the later entries featuring more adventurous environments.
The audio in the game is faithful to the arcade games and offers a pretty standard package. You'll hear your superior's voice from the earpiece your character is wearing--which pipes in information during your game--as well as assorted chatter from foes. Before and during boss fights, you will have brief conversations with your targets, usually involving taunts. The bosses will also yield dramatic death soliloquies before heading to the hereafter. The voice acting has a definite B- and C-movie feel that is helped by some nicely cheesy dialogue. Your gun will yield a satisfying assortment of discharges as you go about your business, which are complemented by ambient effects in the environment. Finally, a suitably melodramatic soundtrack accompanies your trek through a level.
From what we've played so far, Silent Scope Complete is shaping up to be a tight little compilation for the Xbox. While the shooter genre is definitely showing its age, the game has plenty to offer and is as complete an experience as you could want. Although the gameplay does get a bit repetitive, there's a decent amount of variety in the four titles, in terms of modes and multiplayer support, to warrant a look. With the Xbox library thin on shooters, Silent Scope Complete is a solid candidate for those looking to flesh out their software library. Silent Scope Complete is currently slated to ship this February for the Xbox.