The warning flags marched in like soldiers, one by one, only to be knocked down as time went by, until there were none, by which point I closed the game. The first were the votes: 1,177 of them, which is at least double the previous highest I’ve seen. Not to say all popular things are bad, except in gaming, where they are. The second were the forum posts: a desolate wasteland of clickbait, Let’s Plays, and helpful suggestions from people who have never made a game before. Speaking as someone who has made a game, during six weeks which would be described as a “religious experience” if I was an idiot, everyone is wrong but me.
The third were the graphics, which look like every other trendy game of the now: untextured square men which twist and turn like spaghetti. The blocky maps are textured with what seems to be PNGs off Google Images, or otherwise untextured… I saw a section of map textured using the Source orange default, which is an entirely different engine. Of course low budget block graphics were always popular, as 2006 Newgrounds can attest, but now it’s even more unsettling against engines which can render graphics well, and also Unity. I’ve played four Unity games this week. They don’t get better.
When you top it all off with the default Unity menus, a developer who included a dozen different weapons but only one game mode, and the good old “reload while stunned” bug which is the litmus test for developer competency, and you have something that appears to be a piece of utter tosh. I would like to leave it at that, but it isn’t utter tosh. It is, however, a very, very discount version of the games you’re already familiar with. Sing it with me: “Call of Duty and Battlefield clones”, hey!
Bleeding out me guts again
You play as one nameless civilian in a sea of about ten thousand or so, or more realistically the 199 bots you can spawn before your processor starts crying (sorry, Nano). You get the option to choose five different guns, or just one, even though you have literally no reason not to carry every weapon you can handle. You then sprint to the next objective, as there is always sprinting, and shoot all the bad guys to take over their base. Hmm, a territory – control first – person shooter. I think I’ve played a game like this, but I can’t quite put my finger on which of the six dozen of them…
You can headshot the enemies with your “AFK – 420” or whatever the generic AK – 47 ripoff is, or the shotgun if you’re a fan of getting sniped from three hundred metres. Everyone’s health is scaled so that a hit to the head is near – lethal, while everywhere else is a mild inconvenience, such as getting stunned and forced to watch your guy lie down for three seconds. Amusingly there’s a silenced pistol, even though the guns shoot fireballs, it’s broad daylight, and the game points in the direction where you got hit from. I’m not sure stealth is the right option against thirty – six soldiers in the same square metre.
I’m telling you all of this for the purposes of demonstrating it works well, but is by no means good or exceptional. If you can imagine a theoretical first – person shooter, an FPS – 000 if you will, where all FPS games are sourced and produced from, this would come pretty close. The mechanics are bog – standard, the guns are too powerful, your character is too fragile, and the artificial intelligence ranges from ten – year – old boy to the type of twitchy deviant who goes to Gamestop and picks up moms with their Gamerscore. I mean tries to pick up moms, in case you thought he had a snowball’s chance in their bras.
Datorn är din vän
The AI is sophisticated, especially so for an indie game, and the dark puppetry which makes them run should be praised, and then forgotten about for being in such an utterly unimaginative experience. I saw a soldier in a car stop in front of me to pick me up, drive effortlessly through three levels of enemy base, drive around the flag to capture it, only to get stuck between two walls three metres from each other driving back and forth, before getting bored and walking out, refusing to get in when I took the car. Well, it’s a work in progress… it’s a miracle the boys work at all.
Among other pleasant surprises is the gameplay being ever – so – slightly deeper than what you would expect from an indie game, featuring helpful UI features (and not “UX”, because I don’t believe in taking the guy who makes the graphics engine with the guy who designs app icons and putting them both under one term) such as a hit indicator and said fireball bullets, acting as streamlined aim – helpers. There’s also the stun mechanic, which isn’t as painful as I expected it to be, thanks to it being short; it is, however, brutal to kill the enemy while they’re all limped, watching them bleed as you shoot them on the ground. But it’s just paint, so it’s kid – friendly.
There is also the introduction of vehicles, which control like real vehicles in that they are cumbersome and prone to break after you crash them. In the well – designed island map, they are a luxury, as you are likely to get shot in spawn and will otherwise run them into a rock — except for the helicopter, which you will run into the ground. In the awfully – designed desert map, they’re essential to not having to walk in a straight line, holding down Shift, for two minutes straight… until you crash them and you have to sprint again. Also, protip to developers: if there is no reason not to be sprinting 100% of the time, increase the maximum movement speed and remove the sprint mechanic. It’s a redundant piece of garbage kept on for the sake of “realism” that does not exist.
Speaking of redundant garbage, I hope you enjoy shooting the same dudes in the same way on the same map (unless you’re a masochist who actually plays on Dustbowl, no not that one) with the same vehicles and the same game mode all day long, because that’s what we’re going to dooooo. Even with other bare – bones games like Quake, where the mechanics are streamlined to a pitch – perfect hardcore thrill ride, there is enough variety in what you can do with what you have which makes them worth while. Indeed, if more games would copy Quake instead of Battlefield, we would be in a much better place, as we would be if rappers would copy Outkast instead of Drake.
I recall a story from David Ogilvy saying why he never advertised for associations, as when he was offered to pitch to a Rayon manufacturers group. He asked three question: “How many uses for Rayon will we have to advertise, how many members must approve the advertisements, and how much money do we have?” The answers: eight uses, twelve companies, and $600,000. He walked out in thirty seconds. As he describes such associations: “Too many goals, too many masters, and too little money…”
With this game, there are too many weapons, too many bots, too large maps, but not enough gameplay. Even with the illusion of freedom provided, the actual game revolves around running up to enemies, shooting them all in the head, pray they don’t shoot you, and stand near flags for thirty seconds. It is a game well – endowed by what it has, but impotent in the fundamentals. It is better to have half as much stuff if one earns double the enjoyment out of it, for the flame which burns brightest will always be awe – some, while the flame which burns longest will simply stay in the background.