Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot elegantly mixes stealth, action, platforming, and exploration. It's too simple for its own good and a bit plodding, but it's still an enjoyable, cheesy cold war romp.
- Intelligently mixes stealth, combat, platforming, and exploration
- Well designed open-ended levels
- Slick presentation
- Cheesy 80s action movie vibe
- Stealth is too simple
- Sluggish brawling
- Borked score system
Upon first glance, Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot bears a lot in common with Capcom's Bionic Commando Rearmed. Both are reboots of approximately 20 year old franchises. Both are side scrolling platformers set against a 3D plane. And both are about rescuing someone with the surname, "Gibson." The difference is where Bionic Commando Rearmed updated its script to poke fun at itself and the cheesy 80s action movies that inspired it, Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot is completely content to be one. It may be stupid, ham-fisted, and unnecessarily violent, but it's good, messy fun nonetheless.
Back in the USSR...
The plot concerns player character, Sid Morrow, and his team of "ninja badasses" (the colonel's words, not mine) infiltrating a prison to rescue a guy named Rory Gibson. Along the way your crew gets captured, so you also have to rescue them and stop a megalomaniac with a stealth missile from instigating World War 3. Just your usual Cold War nonsense.
The result is a 2D platformer with an emphasis on stealth. These mechanics are simple as foes tend to pace back and forth along set paths. Their sight and hearing is comically limited, so they tend not to notice the guy covered in blood murdering their comrades 10 ft in front of them. Their AI may be lacking, but levels are open-ended with multiple routes, so there are plenty of opportunities to bypass guards entirely by crawling through vents before sneaking up on them from behind.
Sometimes getting caught is unavoidable so you have to rely on brawling or shooting. Melee combat is sluggish and unwieldy, but firearms and grenades are useful, albeit fleeting alternatives. Enemies sometimes drop guns, but they can only be fired a few times before running out of ammo. This mixes things up a bit, just as you're tiring of the sneaky approach you get to go in guns a-blazin'.
Beyond stealth and combat, there's a focus on platforming and exploration. Controls are sure to be divisive with nearly tile-based movement ala Prince of Persia. It feels clunky and strange at first, but the autograb mechanic is generous and once you get adjusted to the measured movement it becomes second nature to scurry around the environment before reigning death upon your enemies.
Elsewhere, Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot has terrific atmosphere. Settings are rich and detailed (particularly the snowy backgrounds) and wisely, the guards' speech hasn't been translated from Russian.
The Red Scare
It's not all slick bombast, though, as there are some serious flaws underlying the action. Stealth is too straightforward and while it's immediately satisfying to stealth kill dozens of guards unhindered (with spectacularly brutal kill animations), it eventually grows tiresome and some added depth would have been appreciated. More complex patrol patterns or unique gizmos would help as stealth never really evolves, making its otherwise reasonable 6-7 hour campaign feel long in the tooth.
The broken score system is also problematic. Players are rewarded points for each kill, with extra points going to stealth kills. Unfortunately, the game's criteria for what makes a stealth kill is inconsistent. Throwing an unaware soldier off a ledge doesn't count, but taking a cheap shot at them from a hiding place while engaged in combat does. If you're going for a high score, this is sure to frustrate.
From Russia With Love
It can be hard to tell who Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot is aimed towards. Its simplistic stealth elements would suggest that it's catered towards younger players who've yet to cut their teeth on Solid Snake or Sam Fisher's recent outings, but the gruesome stealth kills suggest otherwise. Ultimately, it appeals towards the big kid in us who would sneak a peak at R rated action flicks when our parents were away. Shallow and needlessly violent, Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot hearkens back to the day when bad guys would carry chainsaws unironically. It could use more depth and the score system is rubbish, but it shifts gears effortlessly into a fine piece of retro pulp.