SEAL Team 12

A game by Social Loner Studios for PC and Xbox 360, originally released in 2012.
SEAL Team 12 is a top-down shooter that harkens back to the glory days of arcade titles like Ikari Warriors and Commando where players fought their way through enemy territory, vastly outnumbered, but fortunately not outgunned. As is standard in the overhead shooter genre, players take control of a one man army (or a two man army in local co-op) and fight waves upon waves of enemies as they march through various jungles, fortresses, and enemy encampments. Along the way, players can grab more powerful weapons – and even enemy tanks – to unleash greater firepower upon their foes.

The game starts off with a bang, introducing players to the world of over-the-top action and humor that awaits them. In the opening cutscene, a lone silhouetted soldier stands surrounded by innumerable foes, and what does he do? He puts on his best rage face and spins around blasting each of the baddies to bits. Soon, the player is introduced to an enemy force known as the Guardians of Devastation, a.k.a. GOD. Who is GOD? What are GOD’s plans? Where is GOD getting the stockpile of free socks that it hands out to new recruits? These are the answers put forth to SEAL Team 12 at the start of the game. To find the answer, you’ll need to shoot every damn thing you see across 13 levels until you face off against GOD’s war machine.

The game continues its GOD-based humor throughout, and sprinkles in its fair share of pop culture references and other humorous bits. For instance, each level starts you off with another soldier in a red shirt who is promptly killed at the start of the mission, only to be replaced with another equally eager and equally hapless redshirt on the next level. And, just when you think you know what’s coming next, the game subverts your expectations and does something different.

You’ll also hear various movie and television quips throughout, such as Die Hard’s “Welcome to the party” and the indirect Die Hard quote, “Yippee-kai-yay, Mr. Falcon”, from the unintentionally funny television dub of John McClane’s famous line. The game is fully voiced, and while there is no top-shelf talent involved in the characterizations, the game does not take itself at all seriously; most lines are both written and delivered in a goofy style. When you’re in the introductory tutorial level and your instructor directs you to shoot the doors to open them because “doorknobs are for pussies”, you know all bets are off in the land of Serious Business.

There are also little bits of humor to be found within the levels themselves, such as “FREE TANKS” signs near enemy tank depots, and rooms filled with the aforementioned sock stockpiles. Oh, and you have to fight actual seals… because apparently SEAL Team 0 was sent in first and was somehow transmogrified into actual seals with weapon-equipped helmets strapped to their heads.

The game operates like a typical overhead shooter, with the added advantage of offering twin stick controls, unlike its spiritual ancestors, most of which forced you to aim in the same direction you were walking, or forced your weapons to continuously fire upward. A few games, like Jackal gave you more options regarding your firing direction, and some games offered unique hardware configurations like Time Soldiers, which allowed you to twist the stick to move and aim in 2 different directions.

You begin the game with an infinite ammo machine gun. It’s no pea shooter, but it stands as more of a fallback when your specialized finite ammo weapons are depleted (or when you’re saving them for a really big enemy). You also have a stash of 3 grenades. Unlike other games of this sort, the grenades actually replenish on their own after a while (like Explosionade), so you’re free to use them as much as you like.

Specialized weapons have limited ammo, but they’re also carried in your left hand, whereas your infinite ammo machine gun is in your right hand. This means that you can switch between them at will, or fire them both at once. Specialized weapons include a powerful short range shotgun, an uzi that fires much faster than your standard machine gun, a grenade launcher that lets you fire grenades over low walls, a rocket launcher that fires long range in straight line, and a flamethrower with a range of about half the screen. There are also 2 types of specialty grenades, one of which is a frag grenade that has a huge splash effect, and the other is a very powerful super grenade.

Explosive weapons are great for taking out turrets and fortified enemies. They’re also great for blowing up barracks and doghouses, which act as spawn points for enemy soldiers and attack dogs respectively. Enemies will continue pouring forth until the structure is destroyed. Some of the more difficult areas will put you up against multiple structures flanked by turrets or reinforced with waves of enemy soldiers.

You can also get timed powerups, which are picked up from destroyed crates or as drops from killed enemies. Powerups include shoes that let you run faster, armor that makes you invincible, a faster firing rate, a triple shot for your machine gun, super powerful uranium bullets, and even an air strike that wipes out all nearby enemies.

Of all the weapons and powerups available to the player, the greatest and most powerful weapon is the tank. Any time you find a tank in a level, you can hop in and take over (again, harkening back to Ikari Warriors). You can move and aim independently, and the tank is equipped with an infinite ammo machine gun and shells, which can be fired at short range to great effect. The tank has its own life bar, so you still want to avoid getting hit by the more powerful weapons, but rolling through an enemy encampment with a tank is a great way to dispense unbridled destruction.

Unlike many other games in this genre, you are free to backtrack as far as you like, going back to pick up special weapons or health restoratives (you have a life bar, not a 1-hit kill), or going to grab another free tank to bring back up to the front line. Killed enemies stay dead, so you won’t face any new enemies if you opt to backtrack. Backtracking does slow the pace of the game somewhat, but you only have 3 lives with which to complete a level, and failure will start you again at the beginning, so the player is rewarded for playing it safe. The player will also find the occasional 1UP drop as well, which are especially useful in levels that end in boss fights.

Enemies have access to the same range of weapons that you do, so you’ll face off against regular soldiers, grenade tossers, rocketeers, and soldiers wielding flamethrowers. Enemies wielding explosives are more dangerous, but they have the added advantage of exploding when killed, potentially taking out nearby enemies. Rocketeers fire off an extra rocket or two when killed, which will spiral around wildly, so you’ll need to be careful to avoid them.

There are a number of enemy turrets as well, the most dangerous of which are the rocket-firing variety, as these can take away a big chunk of your health with each hit, and they can put you out of your freshly-acquired tank in a hurry. The enemy also has huge tesla coils which fire off streams of electricity until their batteries are destroyed. Tight quarter battles in rooms with tesla coils can be quite difficult.

Of course, you’ll also find yourself going up against powerful military machinery in the game’s boss battles. Not every level has a boss battle, but those that do offer the standard fare of overhead shooter encounters, including hovering planes, oversized turrets, and gigantic tanks, many of which are supported by tesla coils, enemy barracks, and turrets.

SEAL Team 12 was developed by Social Loner Studios, based in Sacramento, California. The studio has a number of titles under its belt, falling largely into the casual gaming category.

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