I am a little young to remember the “good old days” of online shooters. Quake and Unreal Tournament are names that get thrown around because of nostalgia. People loved these games, dug into them and wouldn’t put them down. ILLFONIC decided to throw another one into the mix with Nexuiz, an XBLA online shooter than hearkens back to these good times of violent, online arenas. The game takes this idea and runs with it, while adding its own twist to leave a footprint in the sand of the online marketplace.
First off: the game is simple, but that is far from a bad thing. It’s simple to get into a match, and once you start rolling the game goes. There is no real story, again keeping it simple. All you need to know is that the two factions in the game, the Kavussari and the Forsellians are battling for entertainment. This sets the stage for some fast, fierce, online skirmishes.
Adding to this simplicity is the fact that the game has only two modes, nine maps and nine weapons, and all of these with just two teams of four. There is a limited arsenal with minimal variations, but what the game offers is loads of fun, making every match play differently. Despite the streamlined offerings, Nexuiz still offers players the diversity they crave. The two modes are Capture the Flag and Team Death match. You also have a bot training mode, worth nothing to your overall player score, but it helps you learn the maps and the weapons faster for when you get into the thick of it.
The nine maps are very diverse, with different levels of depth, leading to some intense firefights. I found myself never standing in one place, unless I was waiting for a flag to respawn. There are jump pads that move you around quickly, and with the already quick pace, these battles get very hectic. There are also health and shield pick-ups on all of the maps, as well as “Strength” pick-ups, which allow you to do 2X damage for a limited time.
The nine weapons in the game feel very good. Each weapon has its own dynamics, with alternate fire available for some. I kept the weapons I enjoyed most in a constant cycle, however the starting weapon can almost take you through entire matches. Still, it feels good to switch it up to the machine gun-like Ravager or the rocket launcher. The weapons stay interesting because they are what we would call “old fashioned”. Being able to zoom is gone; you have to lead your opponent because of the quick moving speed, so it is a challenge to take down an opponent.
As if all of this was not enough, the game adds Mutators into the mix. These little game-changers are augmentations that add certain rule sets for a limited time. They come in five varieties: Everyone, Self, Team, Enemy Team and WTF. Everyone Mutators add something to the overall match, and can be picked up around the environment. They can lessen the gravity or save anyone who falls to their death. Self Mutators can be earned via kill streaks and flag captures, and help you out with instant kills with headshots, or giving you the ability to double jump. Team and Enemy Team are pretty similar, either buffing your allies or tripping up your enemies. The best of the bunch are the WTF Mutators, which are tied to Achievements. This can make funny moments in matches even funnier, but I won’t spoil them here. Add in all of these Mutators, and the game turns itself upside down, making the matches even more hectic and insane.
Like most online shooters today, there is an online player card with rankings. There are five overall ranks, and five sublevels of each rank. These go up as you earn more kills and increase your kill/death ratio. These ranks are Noob, All Right, Good, Bad Ass, and Pro. This just shows you that the game has longevity in mind, and there are also clan and leaderboard support as well. The problem was that I reached the final rank within the first day. I am not sure if the levels decrease if you perform poorly, or if you are stuck with that rank and it shows that you may be better than you are.
On a down note, there are definitely some balance issues. I had a hard time with the servers on the first few days, and there were a lot of issues getting into a match overall. Even if you have a good match going, if someone drops out due to rage quitting or bad connection, the teams stay imbalanced, leading to sometimes one-sided games. There are some hosting troubles and some glitches that I found, as well. Overall, hopefully these are addressed, but they definitely bring the game down a bit.
In terms of graphics, Nexuiz looks gorgeous. The game is made astonishingly with CryEngine3, and this little baby hums. There are shining vistas, ruins with broken bricks and floorboards and a number of other very pretty environments. The sound also makes a big impression, with heavy beats constantly playing through matches while balancing an, overall, tranquil quality. I found myself relaxed by the music, but having anxiety from what is going on around me.
There is so much to this package, and it is well worth the ten dollars. I had a great time with this little downloadable shooter, and I think that anyone who is nostalgic for another game of this type, or even a Call of Duty veteran, will find something to love here. Overall, I recommend this game, as it leaves something fun to keep coming back to, time and time again.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.