The original Silent Scope arcade title was a simple game with a clever gimmick; a rifle that would zoom in when you looked through the eyepiece. While the game itself was pretty basic, the sniper effect was what kept us pumping dollar after dollar into the game. Now Konami’s released not one Silent Scope title, but four for the Xbox, all rolled up in the Silent Scope Complete package. And to go with it, Pelican Accessories has released a Light Rifle that aims to bring the arcade experience home. So, with Light Rifle in hand, it’s time to go kick some terrorist booty, or is it?
It’s hard to talk about the Silent Scope Complete collection without discussing the light rifle, which seems like it would be the best way to enjoy the four games in the package. Due to some really quirky calibration issues, however, you’ll find that the rifle can often hinder the gameplay. If you think you’re going to unpack the rifle, hook it up and start enjoying SSC right out of the box, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The rifle, which is a sort of geeky green contraption, assembles in seconds, yet can require a good hour or two to get tweaked just right. The meat of the product, the instant zoom feature, is the first problem. The scope has a sensor built in that detects when you put your eye up against it and immediately goes to zoom mode. The problem is that it doesn’t always work, and you find yourself constantly tweaking the sensitivity to find just the right setting. And even after getting it just right, it seems that a few games later you have to start tweaking it all over again. Another problem is the gun’s calibration, which can be so touchy that you end up blasting the brightness settings on your TV to get the rifle sight to move smoothly across the screen. Accuracy, once you’ve gotten every other feature locked down, is pretty good. The rifle is also somewhat, well…huge, and this means you either better have a big gameroom with space for you to stand several feet away from your console, or you’ll do what I did and break the rifle down to pump shotgun size and use it that way. And in an interesting twist, I could swear the gun is more accurate in this configuration. Not only that, it’s much less unwieldy than it is in rifle mode, and won’t give you shoulder cramps after an hour of playing like it does in full rifle mode. Lastly, there’s the kickback feature that could have just as well been left out, it’s so lame. In no way does it simulate the recoil of a real rifle; it’s as if a marble’s bouncing around in the rifle whenever you hit the trigger. In sum, you can use the Xbox controller and get far more enjoyment out of SSC than you would with the Light Rifle.
So once you’ve gotten past the controller issues, what else is there to talk about? Oh yeah, the game itself. Silent Scope Complete consists of four Silent Scope games in one package; Silent Scope, Silent Scope 2, Silent Scope 3 and Silent Scope Ex. For the most part, they are all the same game with just some graphical updates, new characters and more reasons to shoot everything in sight. It’s pretty easy to see the attempted evolution of the series by playing through each game in order. As you move up to the next game, you’ll encounter new environments, new bad guys and new characters. Honestly though, these changes are cosmetic, and the gameplay really doesn’t vary enough to make you feel as if you’re playing a truly new game. They are all just extensions of their predecessors, with you basting away at every bad guy in sight, making sure to avoid hitting civilians and then taking down big bosses with big hit point totals. SSC is pretty standard light gun fare when you get down to it; you just shoot everything in sight. There’s no AI in your opponents, most of them follow predictable patterns, are lousy shots and have a penchant for standing out in the wide open, just waiting for you to fill them with lead. And in an odd gameplay twist, you don’t even have to remember to reload; the game will do it for you. When it gets right down to it, the only challenge you’ll find in any of these games is trying to remain interested for more than a few hours.
If you’re a presentation fanatic, you won’t be terribly pleased when you fire up the Silent Scope Complete collection; it still looks like an arcade title with several years under its belt. The graphics in all four titles are blocky, almost as jaggy as some of the worst PlayStation 2 titles, and as drab as they come. They might look good on older arcade consoles, but on a modern TV, they scream, “dated.” Menus, cut scenes and stills all look pretty “blah” and the continual warnings of “There may be a pause before loading” (try “long pause” to be more exact) are insanely annoying. The audio is even worse, with a few dozen canned expressions for your character and those of the NPCs in the game. The gunshots don’t even sound vaguely realistic; then again, nothing in the game sounds realistic, even the voices are slightly cartoony. The games’ lackluster presentation isn’t going to win over anyone, no matter how much they liked this game in the arcade.
Konami made a smart move shipping all four games in one package, since there’s no way you’d get your money’s worth from just one of them for this price. When played with the light gun, it’s a frustrating experience; with the controller it’s an easy game that can be completed pretty quickly. There’s nothing to unlock, and since every level and character follows a strict “on rails” pattern, there’s no reason to replay any of the games when you’re done.
If there’s one thing the Silent Scope Complete collection shows, it’s that Konami understands the games would never stand by themselves. But as a package, they make a good weekend’s rental. I wouldn’t recommend the collection as a purchase since the games are too dated and too simplistic to keep you busy for more than a few days. If you do buy or rent the collection, don’t bother with the light gun since it’s too much work to get working properly and there aren’t enough compatible games on the Xbox to support the purchase. Then again, people did buy the $150 controller for Steel Battalion, and that supports only the two Steel Battalion games!
- Gameplay: 6.5
- Graphics: 6.5
- Sound: 6
- Replay: 6.5
- Overall: 6.5
- Good rental, bad purchase.
— Craig Falstaff