Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad
by Polly

Now, admittedly, I was only ever able to hear of and play the Shock Troopers series via emulation. Of course it's the same with the Metal Slug series. I probably didn't even get the chance to play through the first game 'till roughly 2002-2003'ish when I had a decent enough PC to handle it. For some reason it never even occured to me that there may be a second game in the series and I'd never even heard anyone talk about it. It wouldn't be until a couple years after I discovered the first game until I'd give the second game a whirl and sadly, I have to say, I think I may have been better off staying in the dark.

Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad sucks shit. I don't even mean like it half-heartedly puckers its lips up to the end of a turd and plays kissy face either. It full-on goes for broke in the Sucking Shit competition at the Turdbowl Olympics. It wants this big, wet, stinky turd all up in its fucking lungs like any attention whore pornstar wants fourteen cocks in her twat, ass, and mouth at the same time. It's somehow amazingly talented enough to suck an entire turd, around six inches in diameter, through a fucking straw with one inhalation and will sit there jittering like a coke fiend jonesing for more.

Jesus, Polly, what the hell did this game do to piss you off this bad you might ask? Oh, I don't know... I've seen some pretty fucking boneheaded decisions made by game developers in the past and their shitty games somehow make it to market. Contra Force immediately springs to mind. LUNAR: Dragon Song is another fine example. Oh hey look, Devil May Cry 2 came to join the party too! BRING ON THE TURD FEST! But the thing that really pisses me off is when they make a game or a series of games that's good and follow it up with something so unbelievably shitty and unlike anything related to the game or series you originally enjoyed that you honestly have to sit back and be amazed. Amazed at almost otherworldly displays of stupidity. This is the case for Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad. They literally took about 90% of the things that made the first game good and threw it all out the window in favor of a truckload of barf, piss, and some leftover buttcrust.

I'd say Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad is almost completely unrecognizable as a sequel to the first game. It's been gutted of all the familiar faces and features of the first game so much that I honestly don't even think this was supposed to be a Shock Troopers game in the first place. Just like Contra Fuck Force.

First up, NOBODY from the original roster of characters is a selectable character to play as. I guess that may be a bit of a minor gripe, but I can't see why at least one or two of them couldn't have made a comeback. Instead, we've got four new characters that all have different weapons, special bomb attacks, and statistics in areas like speed, power, and evasion. Where the first game's gap between characters never felt too large, 2nd Squad further differentiates characters and now it does feel like you can make the wrong choice from the start. Also gone for whatever fuck reason is the Team Battle mode. This was an excellent feature of the original game and something I'd call one of its most defining characteristics, but it's strangely absent here. With how different the characters are this time around, they could have at least given the option for a two-person team. Being stuck with one character until you have to continue is made only more lame by the fact that the default weapons of each character all suck barf from a barf titty...that secretes barf, because it's barf titty. Even the normal machinegun from the original somehow feels more exciting and useful than these jokers' load outs. There are some pick-up weapons, but they're all too rare and only last about ten or so seconds before their power is drained making them fairly useless in the end.

The power upgrade system is another dump truck load of balls. In the first game you didn't have to worry about being stuck with your default gun. It was enough to get you by even if you didn't have any temporary upgrades. 2nd Squad's system forces you to pick up weapon power upgrade icons from enemies you've melee'd to level your weapon up. You must collect three of these icons for each level of power. There's a noticeable difference in the damage you do, but graphically it still looks like a bigger level 1 shot. The shitty part is for some reason any damage incurred forces you to drop one power-up and your weapon can level down. Dying costs you three upgrades. I don't really even understand why this system is in place. It feels more like a designer thought of a cheap way of making the game more difficult, but it ends up more tedious and annoying than anything.

Even the number of stages has been whittled down considerably. There are now only two paths to the end of the game and you select which path you're going to go on once you complete the first stage. It really doesn't even make much of a difference either, because the path you choose only lasts for stages 2 and 3 and then you play the last game's 2 stages in the same order every time. Again, it's like they couldn't contain their inner-[REDACTED] that day and completely missed the point of what was so good about the first game.

The stages themselves? Long and, at times, excruciating excercises in extreme boredom. There's no variety at all like the little breaks into doing other cool things that the first game had. This isn't helped any at all by the fact that the game can't keep up with its own action to save its fucking life. The game is constantly doling out new fodder enemies for you to put holes in, but the game is optimized so badly that even your own fucking gunshots can slow it down. So, imagine what may happen when five or more enemies and vehicles are hopping around the screen and explosions are going off. I reached several points where I'd just stop firing and try to run past every single bit of opposition I could to try and speed things up a bit. What the fuck, people? How did this shit make it out being almost unplayable?

Because Angel has big tits, that's why.

So, I guess about the only things left over from the first game are you can still evade attacks by leaping and rolling out of the way and that you fire a gun? I guess they were only allowed to pick two.

So, does 2nd Squad do ANYTHING right? You may find this hard to believe, but yes it does.

Firstly, the game is visually impressive... to a point. Everything has been pre-rendered and features oodles and oodles of animation and quite a bit more zazz than the first game. It's really out of step with the sprite work used in the first game, but I can give the Devil his due. There are areas where the game is simply fucking awesome to look at. Buuuut only certain areas. As you may be able to tell from the screenshots, there's not a whole hell of a lot going on here variety-wise at all. Boring streets, boring mountain paths, more boring streets, boring gray, gray, gray, gray, fuck, fuck, gray... Looks like these guys were way ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in modern gaming graphic presentations. HURF-A-DURF! Unless the game's doing something all razzle-dazzle with the bosses, it's just boring as fuck to look at.

Speaking of bosses, they're also quite awesome this time around. They dished out the biggest and baddest mechanical fucknuts they could possibly dream up and not only are they the right kind of difficult, but they look absolutely insane. All the bosses are rich in detail and animation (especially the final boss) and most will take you more than a few tries to be able to survive without downing credits. One of the best improvements over the first game, hands down.

As with the first game, the soundtrack is quite awesome. Up-tempo rock and techno riffs are what rule the day here and they set the right mood for causing mayhem. There's voiceover work too, but it's all fairly bad Engrish and altogether laughable and forgettable.

2nd Squad tosses in some added fun with the inclusion of new vehicles to ride around in and tear shit up. These portions of the game, though they end up being all too brief as enemy resistance tends to make short work of them, almost reach the point of being totally bad-ass. There are a lot of these special vehicles scattered throughout levels and they do help to break up the monotony, but it's really too little too late.

That's the story of the entire game honestly. It's not fun at all. Even when not comparing it to the first game, it's hard to find anything to be genuinely interested in or play for any extended period of time and derive fun from it. A few pretty visuals and a couple vehicles don't save this one from the shitter. They could really only be considered the chocolate sprinkles on top of the shitty balls and turd creme cake.

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