Publisher: Atari, Inc. / Developer: Zombie Studios / Platform: PC, Xbox 360

While a lot of people may complain about Call of Duty for being the shooter equivalent of Madden, I have to give it some respect for essentially revolutionizing first-person shooter multiplayer. While forcing the player to play match after match to unlock the next weapon, gadget, or lethal doohickey in the game’s arsenal is pretty par for the course by now, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer was pretty groundbreaking when it first introduced the concept. Now, nearly every game has some kind of unlock system in place to keep players coming back and obtaining the next reward for their skills, with many games adding their own little twist to the formula. Special Forces: Team X seems to be the latest culmination of many of the more popular multiplayer shooters’ additions to the now-standard multiplayer shooter formula.

STX is sort of like if Call of Duty and Gears of War had a child who went to the same school as Borderlands. It’s a cover-based third-person military shooter with a cel-shaded appearance that actually resembles XIII moreso than Borderlands, but I figure not many people would catch that reference. There is a stronger emphasis on playing as a team in STX than most shooters, as the longer you stay with at least one other person, the more experience you’ll earn, and you’ll start building up your “Team Multiplier”, which boosts weapon performance and allows you to utilize buffs such as extra damage or speed.

STX has many of the standard multiplayer game types like Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, or King of the Hill (its named something different, but its the same concept). What makes these slightly more interesting, however, is the fact that some games will start with four teams rather than the standard two. Sure, many other shooters have played with the concept of four-team multiplayer, but there something still new and fun about introducing two extra teams to something like King of the Hill, especially when there’s an emphasis on teamwork. Its almost like a free-for-all with one or two extra people that aren’t actively trying to kill you (ideally).


STX also has some character customization, in addition to the unlockable weapons, attachments and team boosts/buffs, however I found it to be kind of underwhelming. The primary weapons are all mostly similar with the addition of a few scoped rifles, and the secondary weapons are all pistols and shotguns, except for one combat knife. This strikes me as odd, since melee attacks kill in one hit anyway. What’s the point? You can also unlock weapon attachments, but it’s all just scopes, two different magazines, and a strangely large amount of silencers. Character customization allows you to pick your character’s face, hat, clothing and camouflage colors (grey, not-so-grey, tan, greenish-tan, black, etc.). While I can understand the relatively tame amount of customization options is due to the focus on being a military shooter, one of the things that got me interested in STX was a brief shot of a character wielding a chainsaw. While the chainsaw and a few other power weapons will randomly spawn on the map during a match, it made me hopeful that maybe they’d mix realism with a bit of comic book/action movie over-the-top craziness.

STX is still a fun game, despite its disappointments. While the team focus pretty much ensures players without friends to play with will get stomped by more cohesive teams, it’s still pretty fun sticking with your buddies while fending off three other teams coming in from every side of the map. The game controls well, and I didn’t have any noticeable connectivity problems while I played. While some more extravagant customization options or more definitive variations in weaponry would have been nice, STX is still a nice distraction for you and your friends, if you’re looking for another multiplayer shooter.