There has been a decent amount of retro styled new games released lately. Sure, Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 wasn't as great as it could have been, but it still entertained, and Hard Corps: Uprising became an instant favourite. That's why I've been looking forward to Rush'n Attack Ex-Patriot, a remake of the entertaining Rush'n Attack.
My first taste of the series was under the name Green Beret on Commodore 64, and I quickly became a fan, and I feel that it's a game that still holds its own today, despite the ridiculous difficulty level. Therefore I was happy to hear that one of the things that have been added to Rush'n Attack Ex-Patriot was a health bar for the new hero, Morrows, a spec ops specialising in knife fights.
He's a typical lacklustre main character drawn from the days of the Cold War and communist terror. During a mission Morrows and his men are taken captives by some mean Russian and your mission is simply to get out alive and save some of your fellow soldiers along the way.
It could have been great, but Konami don't seem to have realised what to focus on when developing Rush'n Attack Ex-Patriot. They really wanted to make a Bionic Commando: Rearmed, but forgot that Grin and Capcom created their game with lots of heart and a sense of humour. This is just dry and mean, completely without the charm that is needed to excuse a cheesy story and dialogue. The dry seriousness just seems ridiculous.
I could have lived with this if it had been complemented by great gameplay, but this is in fact the real weakness. We're getting knife fights with truly atrocious hit boxes, and you never really get a hang of how well you connect and when you can perform finishing moves.
I'm a big fan of side scrolling beat 'em ups and third person action, but something I cannot stand is poorly constructed fighting systems filled with useless combos and system where each button press triggers a long animation that you cannot abort when the circumstances of the fight changes.
There is plenty of this in Rush n' Attack Ex-Patriot. The precision of the knife fights are reminiscent of making international calls on your smartphone with gloves on (not fingerless ones). Konami may tell us that there is a combo system in there that you will learn with time, but to be honest it's simply so bad that there is no point learning it.
There are also guns to pick up. But due to the poor controls they can be harder to pick up than it is to beat the bosses in the three levels that make up the game. Sometimes the weapons are dropped so poorly that there is no way to pick them up. It may have been acceptable in Mega Man back in 1987, but it's not in 2011.
As a matter of fact they even botched up the health bar. What could have made Rush'n Attack Ex-Patriot more enjoyable has now rendered the game to easy. There is medkits all over the place, and anyone with decent skills should have no problem making their way through the adventure, and not even the end boss provides a challenge as he is just a test of your patience as you await the correct opening for a quick and smooth kill.
Stay well clear of Rush'n Attack Ex-Patriot. It's an awful game. Completely free of charm, nostalgia or entertainment. It's a real shame that Konami allowed this to be done to such a classic series.