X-Squad Hands On

X-Fire is now X-Squad, an arcade-like squad based shooter for the PS2. Check out our hands-on impressions for all the juicy details.

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You'd get the wrong idea if I said that X-Squad was a squad-based shooter. Sure, it's a shooter, and sure, you control a team of three highly trained operatives, but it's nothing like the harshly realistic simulation shooters like Rainbow Six or Spec Ops: Omega Squad. In fact, X-Squad is more like an arcade shooter than anything else. This isn't a bad thing as X-Squad is one of the coolest looking games I've had a chance to play so far.

You control the leader of a team of urban commandos that infiltrates secret terrorist bases and deals with any type of global threat. The game is not a first person shooter - you control all the action from an over-the-should 3rd person perspective. You'll use the left analog stick to move forward and turn, and the right one to look about. The R1 and L1 buttons strafe, and the face buttons bring up your team command menu, switch weapons, interact with objects, and fire your weapon. It took me a good while to get used to the control scheme, as it's quite different from just about every other 3rd person game out there. I didn't like how you couldn't use the left analog trigger to strafe - making you use almost all your fingers just to move about. Also, you had to use your right thumb to aim the right analog trigger, then move it to the X button to fire, making aiming an almost impossible process. Also, the game features a prominent radar in the lower left had side of the screen that clearly shows the location of every enemy you run into. This makes the game ridiculously easy, as you're always prepared for a hostile encounter.

But the graphics are extremely nice. X-Squad has some of the nicest graphics I've seen on the PS2. Your characters animate well, the environments are clear and detailed, and the objects in the game are easy to identify. It was difficult to hear the sound, but what I did hear sounded very nice. All the characters speak to you, and the gunshots and other sounds sound very realistic.

I really liked how you've got command of a few different people. Now you can rush a room with another member of your team, split up, and triangulate on sniper positions. You can tell each one of your team members to work solo, to cover you, to guard a spot, to run, and all sorts of other military tactics on the fly. And, unlike most AI-controlled team games, the members of your team are actually pretty smart.

If EA can improve the control system and eliminate the radar, X-Squad could be a revolutionary title for the 3rd person-shooting genre. As it stands it's a nice looking title with plenty of potential, but a few problems that could hold it back.

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