Try telling the main characters of the Sift Heads series about the dangers of rubbing up powerful people the wrong way, however, and you’d be met with a blank stare since all of the action of this series can be attributed to Vinnie and his crew making very powerful enemies and ensuring that they are at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sift Heads Cartels: Act 1 signifies a continuation of this reckless behaviour, but this time with only Vinnie left standing and Shorty having been taken by the South American cartel, what other option does the former have other than doing what he does best in order to rescue the latter? Prepare yourself for action, because this game has it in industrial quantities.
Expect to see a wonderful mixture of new features and also a great deal of familiar ones in this action-packed game, making it infinitely more entertaining and stylish than shooters of the likes of Sniper Team and other inferior shooters. Familiarity comes in the form of the game’s wonderful “on-the-rails shooter” format, with Sift Heads in particular being famous for its dramatic and stylishly-animated cut scenes interspersed with player-controlled instances of interaction and scenes of mouse-controlled exploration of hideouts and buildings.
The action is controlled in a similar way to before, with the mouse used to direct the crosshairs when in aiming mode and mouse button 1 used to fire. During enemy encounters, the W and S keys allow you to enter a more accurate aiming mode that decreases crosshair size and therefore increases accuracy. The A and D keys allow you to go back and forth between instances of cover if you find yourself near multiple objects to hide behind.
The game features the usual array of weapons like pistols, SMGs, and shotguns, but also introduces melee weapons, used by pressing the space bar when they are in your possession and you are in close proximity to an enemy. Another improvement to the mechanics is the weapons upgrade system that allows you to place your weapon into a vice and improve its attributes like clip size and accuracy by spending ‘tools’ that are found frequently lying around in the game. 4
This weapons upgrade system injects another dimension to the acquisition of weapons, allowing you to improve the guns you have instead of simply having to upgrade to different ones when you want a change. Developer Pyrozen certainly had the right idea with this one.
So has Sift Heads Cartels: Act 1 got the mojo that the series is famous for? The short answer is yes, because it still possesses the unmistakable monochromatic and over-the-top stickman style of its predecessors and brilliant selection of weapons and enemies to kill. The gameplay itself feels a little lag-ridden however, and the movement of Vinnie and the general passage of the action during fight scenes doesn’t feel as smooth as it does in previous titles.
These shortcomings are more than minor problems because they mess with the fundamentals of the game, but for all intents and purposes, Sift Heads Cartels: Act 1 is still one of the best shooters out there.