Contra: Shattered Soldier

Set several years after Hard Corps, the world has seen wars come and go. The scars are beginning to show, as earth is slowly decaying due to environmental problems. It comes as a shock to many that the hero that saved the world from extinction during the alien wars, Bill Rizer, has been put in cryogenic prison for killing 80% of earth's population by highjacking an extremely powerful electromagnetic weapon. 5 years later the very same government that locked him up must release him to counter the threats of the new Blood Falcon organization and its enigmatic leader.

Editor's review

After two embarrassing attempts by the Appaloosa team to create next-generation Contra games, Konami took notice and gave the fans back what had gone missing; a true, classic Contra game without impractical camera angles and flawed gameplay mechanics. The result is "Shattered Soldier", a game that goes back to the basics of the legendary series. Contra has often been accused of not having enough story, which I personally don't mind that much because it's just a fun and simple action game. However, the story they've come up with for this game is a lot more complex than usual and is actually very clever and adds a surprising twist on what we think is the real story of the series...

Like with almost every Contra game, the control is practically flawless. Every action is easy to perform and definitely helps, considering the difficulty which in tradition is, of course, insane. Now get ready for this one - you only have 3 weapons all in all, and you don't collect them by shooting down pods that fly by quickly. Instead you're already given all 3 weapons at the start. But don't worry, each weapon can be charged to create a more powerful blast... so you might say there are 7 weapons, including the shot you get by firing off your weapon when it's charged half-way. This works to the player's advantage as you won't lose your favourite weapon during a hard boss-fight, and it makes the gameplay more strategic.

The series have always been known for providing top-notch graphics, Shattered Soldier is no exception. The amount of detail and lushness in each level is astounding and makes for some very realistic battlefields. One of the most visually impressive parts of the game is the train level, which starts out on a harbor, advances into a tunnel where you meet the train and ends with a duel between you and a robot that can transform into an airplane(!). The dark and eroded colors give a sense of decay and an insight to the post-apocalyptic state the world has come to.

Up until "Hard Corps", the music style was heavily based around typical cinematic action with orchestral and metal influences. Shattered Soldier continues where the pattern got changed a bit, and focuses more on a very raw but upbeat theme. It's a wide mix of hard metal, industrial, techno/electronica and some orchestral pieces here and there. Most songs aren't particularily memorable, but they do serve their purpose quite well and sound good nevertheless. Personal favourites of mine are the fortress theme, the train theme (quite possibly the only trance song I've actually enjoyed, ever) and the boss-parade theme at the end of stage 5, fittingly called "Intestines". What really irks me though is that often the music is drowned out by the loud sound effects.

After some time of playing Shattered Soldier I must say that it has become a new personal favourite of mine, even if the difficulty is slightly unbalanced. Playing this game is truly an experience, your heart will beat furiously and your gamepad will be covered in sweat from the intense action as you battle robotic soldiers, transformers with massive arsenals and repulsive monsters waiting to rip you apart like a ragdoll.

Released Japan  October 22, 2002
North America  November 11, 2002
Europe  February 14, 2003
Other titles Shin Contra (True Contra) (Japan)
Platform Sony Playstation 2
Developer(s) Konami TYO
Publisher(s) Konami
Staff Nobuya Nakazato (Producer / Director)
Akira Yamaoka (composer)
Sota Fujimori (composer)
Players 1-2 players

Related content

» Soundtrack info » Transcribed dialogue » Game trivia » TV commercial