First-person shooters; for years, they have dominated the console market with stellar titles like Halo, Unreal Tournament, Battlefield and Killzone. Now, they are making their appearance on the XBLA and PSN. While they aren’t as abundant as their console big brothers, they are slowly but surely making a name for themselves as downloadable titles. CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars from Ubisoft is one of the first of these games to ever blur the line between a downloadable game, and a retail one. If you are familiar with Unreal Tournament, you will feel right at home with this title.
Powered by the Unreal Engine, CellFactor plays just like its bigger brother, Unreal Tournament. The thing that differs between the two is the powers you get in CF. There are three different classes of character you can choose from: the Bishop, the Black-Op and the Guardian. Each class has their own challenges and powers. The Bishop has the ability to shoot a laser from her fingertips (in place of a pistol), can fly for a short amount of time (by double tapping the A or X button), and has the Psi Cache power (used by holding the RB or R1 trigger) which allows you to charge up your Psi energy then disperse it at your enemy. Think of it as the Force Push.
The Black-Op has the ability to teleport and the Guardian has the ability to carry two different weapons (fired by the RT & LT or R2 & L2 triggers), can super run (by holding the RB or R1 triggers) and can dodge attacks (used by holding the LB or L1 triggers). The rest of the controls are similar to those of Unreal; switching weapons is done with the D-pad, reload is done by hitting X or the square button, move with the left stick, look around with the right and the Y or triangle button is used in different ways. If you have played an FPS before, then the controls will come natural to you. For those of you not familiar with the genre, well there is no better way to get acquainted with it than with CellFactor.
The challenges (single player mode) are, again, like Unreal. Each class has ten challenges to complete plus a tutorial to get you familiar with the differences with each class. Each challenge has you completing different objectives that range from kill an enemy with every weapon, to using your Psi Push to kill so many enemies. Of course, the challenges start off really simple, and as you progress can get a tad bit difficult. As you complete each challenge, you earn rewards that let you upgrade and customize your character. In the customization menu, you can pick what rewards you want to use (you can choose two) which can be anything from better weapon range to using less psi energy when using specific psi attacks. So there is some incentive to complete each challenge. You can also earn different colors to change up the way your character looks.
Visually, the game is impressive looking. For a $10 game, you really cannot find a better looking game. I know the comparisons to Unreal are getting old, but CF looks and feels dead on Unreal Tournament, which is not a bad thing at all. There is some slight pop-in, however, but nothing that hinders gameplay in the very least.
Of course, if you didn’t like the single player mode in Unreal, you probably won’t care for it in CellFactor either. So why not take the game online? This is where the game shows what it is really made of. There are four different game modes to be played on seven different maps. The four modes of play are your typical FPS online modes: capture the flag, deathmatch, team deathmatch and assault. All modes support up to twelve players, so the action can get pretty intense. Playing CellFactor online is a blast. Running around shooting people and using your psi abilities just adds to the fun. Although it can be hard to find online matches at certain times, when you do it is a blast. Hopefully as word of mouth spreads the game will become more popular, and the community will begin to fill up with players.
All-in-all, CellFactor is an incredible game. With easy to learn (and use controls), cool psi powers and action that is faced-paced and addictive, it is an excellent addition to the PSN and XBLA. With the release of this game, I hope to see more first person shooters of this caliber hit the arcade scene. The only thing I see holding that back, however, is the lack of people who bought this game. This is not a negative on the game, but on the lack of those that passed it up. The challenges are fun and the online is intense and very similar to Unreal Tournament. So why have you not bought this game yet? Go do it now; you will thank me after you’re done demolishing bad guys with your sweet psi powers.