Neo Contra Impressions

Konami takes its classic shooter series into a new direction, but don't fret--the spread gun is back.

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Yes, Neo Contra has a spread gun. The most famous Contra weapon of all was missing from 2002's Contra: Shattered Soldier, but it's coming back in what the game's producer has called "the third-generation of Contra games"--Neo Contra for the PlayStation 2.

Neo Contra will be played from several different perspectives, including traditional side-scrolling, but it appears that the majority of the game will focus more on a top-down or slightly isometric perspective. Like Shattered Soldier, you will enter battle with three weapons, and you can switch between these three weapons at will. However, unlike the last Contra game, here you'll be able to choose which three weapons you want to take into each level. Aside from the aforementioned spread weapon, the game will also contain a standard machine gun, a lock-on laser, a charge shot, a fire whip, and at least a few more.

Though the Contra games have always had some form of basic story, there's never been any real attention paid to the plot of the Contra universe. Neo Contra will attempt to address this by containing more cutscenes than most action games. The game will also have more characters and will attempt to convey more personality. One of the characters, Jaguar, started out as simply the second-player color. But over time, he was further developed and now appears to be a futuristic samurai of sorts.

The stages in Neo Contra are said to be much longer than Contra stages we've seen in the past. Additionally, the development team is trying to include a lot of different camera perspectives and visual looks. One level will have you riding on the backs of fast-moving dinosaurs. Another has the characters skipping on the blades of a helicopter--while it's in flight. The game will feature large bosses, which have become something of a trademark for the series over the years. We saw a few large, gnarly-looking beasts, as well as a gigantic, multiturreted tank.

Neo Contra definitely looks like it's taking the series in a different direction, and it looks like it could be a pretty cool direction, but whether it will be a welcome one or one that is, perhaps, a bit closer to Konami's failed attempts at Contra games for the original PlayStation remains to be seen--as a playable version of the game was not shown. Neo Contra is currently 40 percent complete and is scheduled for release in November.

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