Narco Terror is a new third-person action shooter developed by Keen Software House and Rubicon Organization and published by Deep Silver now available on PSN for $9.99 US. In style and story, Narco Terror is an unapologetic throwback to the kind of 80’s action movies where musclebound badasses shoot and explode their way through drug lords and terrorists spouting bad puns, and the arcade-style gameplay suits this thematic choice well. Just like those classic spectacles, Narco Terror offers an enjoyable—if shallow—stress release that is strong where it counts.
Players play as Quinn, the hands-on hardass Director of the DEA, as he fights to take down a nefarious drug cartel and rescue his daughter. The gameplay itself is based on shooting and exploding everything and everyone in sight. Thankfully—as this is the clear focus of the game—running and gunning is fun and rewarding, providing a nice bit of mindless catharsis after a bad day. The only major noticeable hickup on the gunplay occurs when shooting at enemies on a different elevation, which seems to cause the auto-aiming to go slightly mad. Some sections are extremely frustrating solo, but the overall difficulty is balanced and the generous checkpoints limit the build-up of player rage.
Money almost exclusively comes from wanton acts of combustive destruction—in addition to significant amounts of points—so players might find themselves scouring levels for more red barrels. This unfortunately slows down the pace of the game, especially in the first couple levels where enemy density is lower. The money goes towards upgrading the game’s four guns. Upgrades cost enough that each upgrade is enough of a significant investment that it will likely take two playthroughs at least for players to fully upgrade all their weapons.
One of the game’s strongest features is the co-op multiplayer. It only allows for two players to play together at a time, but getting into a game is fast and easy. Unlike many newer games, Narco Terror remembered to include a local multiplayer option as well. In a smart move, local multiplayer just clones the main player’s character along with all of his weapons and upgrades, so a friend has an easier time jumping into the game at any point. In fact, it seems that the game was balanced around the multiplayer, which can cause problems for solo players. Certain sections are controller-throwing frustrating with one player, but only reasonably difficult with two players.
The graphics are respectable and colorful, if lacking in model detail. Most of the time though, the camera will be pulled back enough that high level model detail would not be noticeable anyways. The small character models can cause problems picking out the player character in masses of explosions, gunfire, and dozens of enemies. Speaking of which, the camera can be quite frustrating, especially when playing with someone in-person on the same console. The leashing between the players in such cases is more restrictive than players might assume, which can cause problems on some sections that require speed and/or contain lots of screen clutter.
The voice acting is surprisingly well-done for a lower-profile game. The main character is voiced by veteran voice actor David Lodge, known for his baritone badass voices, which suits the character and game’s tone perfectly. The rest of voice cast is made up of professional VA’s as well, which helps give the game a more polished sound. Levels are filled with constant gunfire and satisfying explosions. The soundtrack is mostly generic, forgettable rock music. Such background music does certainly feel appropriate though, and it is not distracting by any means.
As an arcade-style action game, Narco Terror has to have an intuitive and responsive control scheme, and it mostly succeeds in that regard. The player moves with the left control stick and uses the right control stick to shoot. Players can also dodge to the side, throw grenades, melee, switch ammo types, and switch guns. Most of these functions are easy to use and intuitive, but switching weapons and ammo types can feel a little awkward in the middle of combat. Also, grenades are thrown in the direction the character is running instead of the direction he is shooting, which makes using grenades difficult in the very high enemy density scenarios they are designed for.
Narco Terror does quite a good job of giving exactly the experience that it promises and more. There is an obvious love here not only of the 80’s action flicks that inspired the story and style, but to classic arcade-style shoot-‘em-ups and even overhead aerial shooters. The production values range from respectable to strong for a ten dollar game, and gamers will certainly get ten dollars worth of play out of the game, especially if they take advantage of the multiplayer. Narco Terror is a strong title in its price range and certainly worth checking out.