Retro Review : Millennium Soldier Expendable (Sega Dreamcast)

Millennium Solider : Expendable was developed by Rage Software. It was ported from the PC and was one of twelve games launched with the Sega Dreamcast. It provided one of the first true experiences of the arcade style games that the Dreamcast would eventually be famed for.

In the media

The Official Dreamcast Magazine gave Millennium Soldier : Expendable a 7 out of 10 citing that while the game looks great and has a great arcade feel the experience was ultimately short-lived and lacked substance. This was echoed somewhat by DC-UK, who rated it a 6 out of 10, but they drew more attention to the retro and repetitive nature of the game play. Lastly we have the highest rating of 80% given by Dreamcast Magazine. They seemed unconcerned about the mindless nature of the game, listing this as a positive, and were more concerned about their fingers.

Gameplay Video:

Playing the game

As stories go there is little to write about – everything you need to know is presented in a short, but amusing, scene setting FMV. Also any developer who takes the time to render the player characters genitals gets immediate respect. You play a cloned Soldier who is sent to various planets around the galaxy to reclaim them from a fearsome alien invader. Essentially this is run and gun in its purest form – simply put - your mission is to run through 1 of 20 levels and destroy everything in your path.

Firstly a personal warning – always read the manual. I utterly failed to comprehend both the control system and weapon power-up methodology during my first hour of play. I had missed the fact that the trigger buttons allows the player to strafe which without its use renders the game almost unplayable. Secondly the power-up methodology of the weapons encourages tactical play as rather than simply hoovering up all the weapon powers-up, picking and choosing allows you to power up one of three weapons to higher levels, which is essential if you are going to make any progress.

The good news is that Milllennium Solider : Expendable is VGA compatible and still looks good now. For those without the VGA option both 50hz and 60hz display options are available. Either way it’s easy to see why the early adopters of the Dreamcast were dazzled by the graphics at the time.

Its arcade intentions are obvious from the start and it does seem to be a pretty simple run and gun shooter but Rage mixes in a few other ingredients to spice things up. The levels themselves are seldom boring – they twist and turn, laser beams block paths and environmental hazards are everywhere. The enemies spawn all around you so you need to be on your toes and some are immune to specific weapons. A number of the enemies are clearly inspired by Aliens especially the face hugger type beings who erupt from hostages and have acid for blood!

Furthermore you are limited to a mere 7 credits, which is in no way enough to complete the game on any difficulty, although fortunately there are cheats available to give additional credits and lives when needed. In addition to this each of the levels are limited to a very strick time limit – run out of time and you die. These issues combine to make Millennium Soldier a very hard game indeed. Even the assistance of a second player does little to offset this issue. Then of course there’s the repetitive nature of the game. It does quickly become a grind but clearly as an arcade title it was never the intention to provide a title you should play for hours on end.

Treat this game as intended - drop in a few credits, coerce a friend to join you and play until those credits are gone then turn it off and move on. Do this and you’ll find a decent little shooter which is well worth a play today. If only I could find a way to retro fit the Dreamcast pad with a second thumb stick....

 


Last Updated ( 19 January 2011 )  

Comments 

(Link to this comment) Tepid Snake 2011-01-15 00:58
Excellent review! I always assumed this game was some sort of FPS, I'll definintely have to check it out now.
(Link to this comment) GMass 2011-01-19 21:47
Thanks for the feedback. Its a fun little title, just don't play it for too long.
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