The new weapon system is mirrored by a somewhat different style of level and enemy design. The stages in earlier Contra games were looser, geared toward a fast run-and-gun style of play. It was easy to negotiate many challenges with various weapons -- some might have been more effective in a given circumstance, but the enemy patterns weren't specifically geared toward particular weapons. Shattered Soldier, in contrast, tightens the screws significantly, making pattern analysis and weapon selection absolutely vital to success. Learning what weapon to use in what situation, and what patterns the bosses follow, is essential to survival and completing the game with only those three continues.
While the new weapon system cuts down on the amount of flash in the player's arsenal, there are still more than a few special effects on display when the bad guys cut loose. Realtime lighting effects are used throughout to spruce up the backgrounds, regardless of where the camera presents itself, and there are plenty of other little punctuating effects like missile contrails, smoke puffs, and flaring fire. Cooking the bad guys with the flamethrower weapon never gets old, of course. 2b1af7f3a8