For the uninitiated among you. Navy Seals is the title of an all-action war film starring hunky, chunky ex-Brat-Packer, Charlie Sheen, and veteran of the Aliens battle on Acheron. Michael Biehn. Together with the likes of another of Aliens' Colonial Marines, Bill Paxton, they form part of a crack group of commandos, the Navy Seals (Seals, by the way, stands for Sea, Air, and Land. Quite what happened to the 'E' I don't know, but Navy Sals isn't half as butch) of the title who are basically an American version of our SBS. The film, and consequently the game, revolves around the antics of the crack troop as they are sent on a series of deadly missions, and the player is given control over a band of five members and must guide them safely through the eight stages that make up the game.
Although it is split into a series of smaller levels. Navy Seals is basically a game of two distinct missions. The first involves negotiating a hostile Arab-controlled base and rescuing a hostage from the centre of their HQ. whilst the second takes the unit to the terrorists' base in Beirut where the majority of the rebels must be annihilated. Needless to say, along the way, loads of towel-wearing stereotype baddies get offed, but unlike, say, Commando or Dogs Of War, in Navy Seals a certain amount of strategy is needed if you are to avoid the unwanted attention of the enemy. The levels span roughly forty screens, and your movements around them are monitored with the screen scrolling to follow your progress. Each of the Seals is controlled using the joystick, and can be made to run and crawl from left to right, and jump from platform to platform. In addition, the agile heroes can also swing under the platforms to avoid detection or avoid being hit. Similarly, each of the team is armed with a small hand-gun to pick off the sentries and guards, and this weapon can be upgraded by blasting a specific style of crate and stealing the gun inside. These extra weapons are essentially faster-firing machine guns, but the most devastating by far is a napalm-squirting flame thrower which reduces anyone in its path to glowing ashes!
The neat thing about Navy Seals is that, as in the film and - I suppose - the real life escapades of the Seals, stealth does play an important part in the proceedings. It's no good running across a level, blasting all and sundry, as it takes just one bullet to prematurely end a Seal's mission. Instead, by mastering the simple controls, real skill is needed to leap and swing from the ledges and sneak up behind the guards, and this really raises the game above its many counterparts. In addition, another particularly nice touch is that once a guard has been shot, they stay down. This means that there are no miracle rebirths just as you are getting into the mission and, thus, no unnecessary loss of life. My only real grouse with the game is that the collision detection between the main Seal sprites and the enemy bullets is dubious to say the least. There can be a good centimetre between your sprite and the enemy fire, but the Seal will still be killed. This doesn't spoil an otherwise excellent game, but does make you slightly more wary than you possibly need to be. In all, though. Navy Seals is a playable film licence and a welcome addition to the platform and shoot 'em up genres.
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