Futuristic RPG-action in an entertaining and addictive, if not wholly original, game
I'm usually not into RPG. I don't mean running around in the woods pretending to be in medieval times, fighting with toy weapons and imagining yourself to be an elf or an orc... that I'm not into either, but that's not the point(though the reasons are fairly similar). It is only in rare cases that I am interested in playing video-games that have you assigning points, "leveling" up and building a character. System Shock 2 had(and still has) atmosphere and mood enough for a whole series of games. Deus Ex had incredible freedom, a dystopic future world to explore and even philosophical undertones. Septerra Core was a lot of fun and had a great story. X-Men Legends 2: The Rise of Apocalypse... well, I'm a comic book fan and I like the characters. And this game... it quite simply has a lot of really cool stuff. Granted, parts are borrowed... but it's well-integrated and few productions today can really be claimed to be terribly original, anymore. The plot is intriguing, and develops gradually throughout the game(sadly, I was not able to finish it, due to an apparently irreparable bug in my copy, so I do not know how it ends). The level design is very good, with increasingly larger and more elaborate areas to clear of ill-willed outer space beasts. The sound is well-done, with each gun, enemy and item sounding right. The music is magnificent. The score, coupled with the shocks, will leave your nerves torn. It helps build the atmosphere, which is constant throughout the game, and creates a sense of paranoia. What makes that unpleasant feeling that something is going to come at you any second a very real threat is the way some of the enemies appear. You know how, in Aliens, one character in a tense scene(and with good cause) shouts "they're coming out of the walls!"? Well, in this game, they *do*... or, more appropriately, the ceiling. At more than a few points, no matter how you try to go about the game, enemies can and will jump down right in front of you... sometimes, enough of them to surround you. All you have to combat that(apart from, obviously, your actual arsenal) is a motion tracker... yup, Aliens, again. And the references(or rip-offs, if you prefer that term) don't stop there; in fact, the aliens in the game bear a striking resemblance to the Xenomorphs of that franchise... right down to their biology, with reasonably few exceptions. Oh well. If you're going to steal, steal from the best. The game has you going through the levels, combating the creatures(that slowly, as you progress through the game, grow bigger, angrier, and nastier) and solving objectives. Often, the objectives will simply be to kill the aliens or their eggs... or a certain amount of either. Sometimes, there are also hostages thrown in, which you are required to save. In any level, at any time, you can access the status window, which'll give you an exact count of how many aggressors you've killed, how many hostages you've saved, and let you know what your goal is, as well as how much time you have, which is typically unlimited. There are a few levels that are timed, and they are more intense than usual, but the game is always fun and exciting to play. Inbetween missions, you find yourself in the city where the CyberMercs(Cybernetic Mercenaries, in case you were wondering) live, and from there, you can restock ammo, get new guns and items, repair current ones, upgrade your Merc's body(you are automatically healed when you complete the mission, and if you upgrade your max health level, you will start the next level with that amount of health) and get your next mission briefing. The money you earn by successfully completing objectives and eliminating baddies can be used for any of the aforementioned tasks(though I must admit, I found most of my guns in the field... be careful spending too much money supplying yourself with firepower, because the majority of the guns appear in the levels). You can also sell anything you don't need. Where most RPGs(I would assume) have magic and spells, CyberMercs has items... such as the Hologram Copy, which presents a projected image of the player's Merc, for the opposition to fight, while you attack them from another angle or simply run away, if you're low on ammo. Others include the Invisibility Device, Sentry Gun, Mine, and Booby-Trap... which can be placed on doors, activated by someone opening it. The last-mentioned also comes in a gas variety. There are also more conventional items, such as grenades(again with a gas version) and flares. The camera is centered on the mercenary, and never moves without him moving. The large, intricate levels are made easier to find your way through by the map, which gradually fills out from its starting point of being entirely blackened out. The control is somewhat rigid... once you've clicked for your character to go somewhere(and yes, mouse is the only way to control him, no keyboard use, except for some rather helpful shortcut keys), he'll keep walking to that point, even if you change your mind, until he's reached it. He can also only move at one speed, making dodging and tactical movement somewhat limited and difficult. Also, in spite of what the box says, the game only does let you control one Merc... if you want more, you'll have to team up with some friends on the nicely done multi-player feature. The game is easy to get into playing, and most everything is self-explanatory. The powerful blows that the attacking forces deal make the difficulty somewhat uneven. Fighting typically consists of keeping your distance and overpowering them before they close in on you. Still, this is a very worthwhile addition to the genre. The guns and items are cool and well-designed, and the game-play, whilst perhaps limited in scope, is highly entertaining. I recommend this to fans of RPG, action and sci-fi. 7/10
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