'Code Name STEAM' Review Roundup: Critical Opinion Split On Nintendo's Quirky 3DS Strategy Title

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Mar 16, 2015 10:31 AM EDT
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Nintendo unveiled Code Name S.T.E.A.M. to some confusion, the strategy tiltle fairly different from most of the famous publisher's properties. We saw was an intriguing combination of steampunk and historical figures in some gameplay clips, but how did it all come together? The reviews are in, and the opinions are about as disparate as possible:

IGN, 7.9: "Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is a strange hybrid of turn-based tactics and action, but its simple mechanics create plenty of head-scratching decisions in single or multiplayer. Carefully selecting my squad and positioning them for maximum effect on the battlefield is tense and satisfying, even when I end up watching my goofy team crumble under a brutal counter attack."

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Polygon, 3.5/10: "In other games, [failing] might have created a pleasant opportunity for experimentation, but Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is so watching-paint-dry-boring that the realization that I had the wrong loadout provided nothing but gnawing dread as the panic-inducing thought set in: "I have to start the level again. [shudder]"

"You may not have that reaction, of course. You may, like a sane person, decide that you're done wasting your time. I didn't have that luxury, as I was reviewing the game. This was a scenario that was creating no small amount of consternation for me, as I had, as of 3 p.m. Friday (the thirteenth), spent four hours of my 26-hour play time with Code Name S.T.E.A.M. attempting to beat what I was lead to believe was the next-to-last boss of the game. On the verge of death (or throwing my 3DS through a window), I was miraculously saved by review editor Arthur Gies who said I didn't have to finish it providing I'd just stop whining about it. I'm considering naming my next child after him."

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Game Informer, 8/10: "During my time in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., I globetrotted to cool places like Buckingham Palace, Washington D.C., and fictional places I won't mention to avoid spoilers. At times, I felt overwhelmed with unexpected reinforcements or extra mission requests, but then reveled in persevering. The world is cool and exciting, it kept me thinking more about my actions than most games, and yet some things really hinder the adventure. The game could use a bit more personality, and the long enemy turn time can ruin the experience. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M has plenty to love, but it also falls short in keeping all moments thrilling and tense."

Gamespot, 4/10: "Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. offers the most frustrating kind of steampunk: It brushes up against potent themes, but then turns its back on them in favor of pure aestheticization. When used well, steampunk can be great: Games like 80 Days and Dishonored use steampunk to examine the complexity of emerging technology and massive social change. But in S.T.E.A.M., all we have is American exceptionalism, technological fetishism, and the tiniest dash of diversity training. Yet there is one upside in all this: because all of these characters exist in the public domain, one day, someone will return to this idea. I only hope that they'll spend a little more time fleshing out the world and its inhabitants. And making a targeting system that works.

Destructoid, 6.5/10: "Truth be told, I feel incredibly conflicted about Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. The idea of a Nintendo studio authoring a western comicbook-inspired steampunk tale about American folk heroes is just so off the wall it's enthralling. However in practice, it really underdelivers.

"Meanwhile, the gameplay is a heady, engrossing experience. But it's also one that is frequently undermined by the tedious and protracted nature of enemy turns. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is a decent, respectable game with some truly euphoric highs amid equitably frustrating lows."

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