Rush'N Attack Ex-Patriot
At first glance, Rush’n Attack Ex-Patriot appears to be another take on the Super Metroid formula of exploration and upgrades in the vein of Shadow Complex. This is not the case.
Sure, Rush’n Attack has the trademark 2D map that fills in as you progress, but you won’t find anything interesting in those far-off corridors but inconsequential health boosts. Hero Sid Morrow goes down after a couple bullets either way, so why bother? You can’t find upgrades that allow you to reach areas that were previously blocked, so there’s no need to keep track of special rooms. All of the areas end up being some bland prison or secret base that you’re booking through to reach an objective. Even if it were interesting to explore the whole map, there’s no completion percentage rating to indicate how much exploration is left. The game is also split into three distinct maps instead of one sweet, interconnected megamap, so you can’t go back to collect missed pickups once you kill the area boss.
Bucking genre conventions can work well as long as the game is delivering interesting gameplay. Again, this doesn’t happen. The classic Rush’n Attack game involved sprinting into a base and stabbing everything in sight. The knife is still your best friend here, but Morrow takes a smarter, stealthy approach. You can crouch-walk behind an enemy for an instant melee kill or hide in a doorway, floor, or ceiling for the same result. Weapons like grenades, assault rifles, and rocket launchers can be swiped from fallen foes, but they only have a few shots before running out. Strangely, in my playthrough many bad guys simply would not drop their weapons. Sometimes the guns would fall neatly at my feet, and other times the fella would just hold onto it with his dead hand, which is annoying when you’re counting on a weapon.
The game encourages stealth kills by awarding more points that in turn unlock new combos. These add some helpful tricks to your arsenal when taking down alerted enemies, but I just used a few of them to get me through the game. The stealth kills feel satisfying, but I would have appreciated at least a couple more options. Stabbing a soldier above you while hanging from a ledge merely tosses him to the platform below instead of instantly killing him. They just get right back up and start shooting you unless they happen to fall a long distance. Since this was a common tactic of mine, there was a whole lot of tossing and chasing only to receive a low non-stealth point reward. The game also could have used a pounce kill from above instead of forcing you to quietly drop down and slowly creep after your target.
Puzzles in Rush’n Attack fall into essentially two categories: drain the toxic sludge or hit the switch to open a door somewhere else. These get old fast. The sludge puzzles are worse because you must rely on the sloppy jumping mechanic to avoid falling to an instant death. This happens a lot, especially when you have to jump on floating boxes that will tip you off if you’re not careful. The problem is that you can’t just hop in quick succession to the next platform. You have to wait for the landing animation to finish before you can jump again, otherwise it won’t count and you’ll slide into the drink.
The best part of Rush’n Attack is the boss battles. All three have unique patterns that you must experiment with to defeat. I didn’t mind biting the dust several times until I figured out their little tricks. My only complaint is that the final boss is the easiest of them all.
While there were plenty of things I dislike about Rush’n Attack, it still might be worth it for big fans of the first game to check out. Small flashes of nostalgia pop up to remind you what you liked about the original, like raiding a snowy base, hopping over conspicuously placed land mines, and dodging parachuting foes. Unfortunately, with all the miscues in the rest of the game the cult franchise probably won’t get another shot for a long time.