|Release Date:||March 2nd, 2007 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andrew Hemphill (Bandit)|
From developer Digital Extremes, the team that bought us the mediocre and disappointing shooter 'Pariah', comes Warpath, a multiplayer focused FPS with some identity issues. And before Pariah fans start battering down my door in protest, the fact is that Warpath doesn't really offer anything new, just a huge heap of the same old shoot, run, drive, get blown up philosophy that has served shooters for decades and was a staple of Pariah.
But anyway, here is the plot: Warpath is set in the far future, and centres on the struggle between three different races, all of them fighting for control of the only inhabitable planet in a sea of dead worlds- Kaladi. And that's it. No, really, that's it. There is no other plot to this game, no backstabbing, no double crossing and certainly no love scenes- Warpath is, pure and simple, a multiplayer shooter.
In fact, the single player game is practically non-existent. The player first gets to choose one of the three races, either the Ohm- cyborg warriors who look like walking yellow balls of wire, the House of Kovos-behemoths with shoot-me-quick glow in the dark armour or the Coalition- a group of feckless humans who have just stumbled into the battle.
From there, the player is then presented with a triangular battle grid, with each of the races fighting inward from one of the corners in a series of battle zones, aiming to reach the other corners and eradicate the other races from the grid. The battle zones themselves are nothing more than the standard multiplayer levels of the game, except they are played against bots, over and over. So, in practice, the single player mode serves as nothing more than a warm up for the multiplayer mode.
So without undue haste, on to the multiplayer, and the bottom line is that this is nothing shooter fans haven't seen before. The game offers all the familiar game modes- deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag, with the one original mode being 'front line assault,' which is basically the same as any assault mode on any other shooter- pitting players against each other over control of several 'nodes' spaced around the map, which they have to capture by holding them against enemy forces.
The multiplayer gameplay is fast and more than a little hectic on all of the modes, with bodies flying left and right and players moving so fast that their feet don't seem to touch the ground- sometimes it can seem like you are trying to hit a load of ice skating enemies with unusually large guns balanced on their shoulders.
The player is offered a selection of six guns at the outset, with each player choosing two to carry with them into each battle. The armoury includes a heavy machine gun, a shotgun, a plasma cannon, a sniper rifle, a grenade launcher and a rocket launcher, each of which can be upgraded three times using a Combat Augmentation Module, (CAM) which are dropped by slain enemies or randomly spawn in each map.
The CAM's can give Warpath's weapons a huge amount of firepower, for example, a simple rocket launcher can be upgraded to make it a heat seeking quad-warhead launcher of death, and a machine gun can become a rapid fire cannon, with bullets that embed themselves in walls and then shoot out at the next unsuspecting enemy who walks past.
The sound effects for Warpath's hand cannons are more than a little disappointing however, a player would expect a quad-warhead death launcher to sound like a full broadside from a Napoleonic era galleon, when all it sounds like is a hand clap at 50 metres. Similarly, the other guns are also as uninspiring, producing unconvincing noises considering their enormous size.
The effects that the guns have is a little better than the sounds though- the rag-doll physics of the game have clearly been ramped up to 'extreme,' as a shot from a sniper rifle will send an dead enemy flying across a room, and a rocket hit on an enemy can send them flying into the sky before falling back to earth with a sickening crunch- very enjoyable.
Apart from the weak-sounding armoury, Warpath also offers three vehicles for the multiplayer mayhem. The Razorback- a two-seater rocket equipped jeep, the Hornet- a motor-tricycle armed with a chain gun and the Maverick- a hover scooter armed with a pair of plasma cannons.
The vehicles, while fun to drive and blow up, aren't all that well implemented in the game however. They are only used in a few of the CTF and assault levels, and the small size of the maps renders the vehicles largely useless unless they are used for a quick getaway in a CTF match or as a mobile gunnery station in assault mode.
The multiplayer maps themselves are varied and beautiful to look at/blow up, with the graphics engine rendering everything from a snowy wasteland to a desert plain in bright colours. The problem is that a lot of the maps are annoyingly similar- industrial themed hallways are at a premium, keeping the action very close in and exciting, but at the disadvantage of reducing the maps to the level of a two corridor bloodbath on every single map- a fact which gets more than a little annoying when you are trying to aim at an enemy who is seemingly skating across the floor at high speed in similar corridors on every map.
Generally, the multiplayer is a fun experience, but after a while the game starts to be repetitive, there is only so many times you can fight with rocket launchers in an industrial themed corridor before it starts to get a little dull, despite the flashy graphics and big, rag doll throwing explosions.
Also, as this is Digital Extreme's second game of recent years, you would have thought that they would have learnt from their mistakes the first time and made Warpath into a better game, but fans (or haters) of Pariah may notice some shocking similarities between that game and Warpath.
For one, the menu screen's music is the same as Pariah's, as are many of the gun sound effects. Also, the vehicles in Warpath are exactly the same as Pariah- just renamed and given weapon upgrades to match the far-future theme of the game. In fact, it seems as if the developer has just taken Pariah, stripped it down to the multiplayer core of the game, and painted it in a new coat of skins, weapon fascias and multiplayer maps.
Gamers who are looking for a serious, story driven game should avoid Warpath like the plague, but if you are looking for an unsubtle shooter with big explosions and relentless action, it might just be worth a few quid out of your pocket.
- Nice Visuals
- Relentless Action
- Generally a fun multiplayer experience
Not so good stuff
- No plot
- Weak sounding weapons
- Similarities to Pariah are obvious
- Repetitive multiplayer maps