Reviewing games often comes hand in hand with playing multiple things at once. In my personal case, it usually comes with playing a myriad of different games, because I review titles to report on them for readers, not necessarily because it fits my niche. I handle sports games when I need to, for puck’s sake. I also play shooters, though I certainly enjoy some light competition now and then.
Prior to this, I was playing Betrayer. Yup.
However, this last month, it suddenly dawned on me that no matter how many times I switched palette, I kept at least shooting some other person through the face at some point. It seems like I’ve exclusively been running the gamut of shooters. Then I watched at the sideline of what was waiting and I saw yet more of these titles waiting. In all, I currently have 5 different shooters installed right now. All of them have been released on Steam in the last month. Before that, I was already running the still terrible Ravaged Zombie Apocalypse relaunch and the troubled, customized Guncraft shooter. This can take a toll on the motivation.
At first, I thought that being able to compare between a few would give me a fresh and interesting take on what each was doing better than its peers. That’s still true, in some extent. However, as the games got added, it didn’t so much seem that one game was better, more than the other ones becoming more of a chore to work through. More so, it killed my drive to take on additional titles, since they were also headed in the same direction. That’s a punch in the gut, considering how much I had been anticipating some of them. I don’t know who is responsible to pack all shooters at the end of the summer and before the holiday rush, but it seems everyone had the same idea and that’s not exactly a great plan for consumers.
To help out on that last part, I’ve decided to classify each shooter I’m working on in a handy list, so you too may know which one is worth the time and effort. Consider this a personal mental arrangement that will hopefully cut some final decisions, to make room for others. If there are more of these genres coming at the end of the year, I fear I may overlook them all. Games like the classy World War shooter Verdun, the strategic Rainbow Six homage of Takedown and even the generic Alien Rage blaster look like something I’d want to be a part of, but going for those would truly overkill the notion. I even limited it to first-person shooters or zombie survival State of Decay would’ve made the page somewhere high up as well. Now then, I promised you a list:
Modifications of other titles often come with their own rule set, closed from larger communities. Before Insurgency, Nuclear Dawn had its hand in the Source Engine as well, but failed to bridge a gap to newcomers and instead only echoed archaic models among veteran members. This game does the same and brings troubled level design and unbalanced gameplay to the list of reasons to stay away. As a simple example: Some maps allow a well-positioned sniper to take point behind their team’s spawn point and still reach the enemy spawn. From there, it’s a simple matter to pick off people until the ammo runs out.
4) Arma 3
Inaccessibility is also Arma 3’s downfall, though not in the same manner. Here, convoluted menus and hazardous controls plague gameplay in deserted environments. It may pack a ton of visual prowess and realism in the game, to much glee, but when it comes to actually partaking in significant action in the game, only a handful of modes will work. It’s so reluctant in creating a safe haven for players that it makes warm-ups like showcases and offline challenges tougher to manage than the actual experience. It’s thrilling when it comes together, but that is a rare occasion in a sea of emptiness.
3) Paranautical Activity
It takes a different turn when it comes to shooters, but this random dungeon crawler sure knows how to make for an engaging pastime. Simply choose a weapon, dive into the first room and handle a way through the madness. That’s all that’s needed to try a hand at survival in Paranautical Activity. It is a little basic with its infinite ammo and repetitive encounters, but some pumping tunes and riveting boss fights can get the blood coursing with some might. Add a few power-ups and climbing difficulty and this basic experience is already great for a few rounds of inevitable death.
2) America’s Army: Proving Grounds
Realism doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to dreariness. In this free-to-play multiplayer game, fighting in teams is encouraged by a mostly supportive community and streamlined game mechanisms. Helping teammates and reviving where necessary are vital to victory, but so is calling out positions, leading squads and so on. Large levels with many pathways also lead to tactical matches with both penetrating paths and observing long range areas. Many rounds make use of the full breadth of options available to create for adaptive plays that change all the time. It offers the same competitive tension of other games, but for free.
It’s as much of a surprise to me as it probably is to others to see two free-to-play titles take the top spots, but Warface is the real deal. This browser game has better level design and balancing than many of its peers. It also focuses on team rewards, instead of personal achievement, which elevates the gameplay for everyone involved. Every sort of player can find a winning role in this game, from the helpful medic to the crappy gunner with a solid mind on ammo support. Add to that extensive customization. This shooter is a powerhouse, much like games such as Call of Duty, but with better priorities.
I now have Shadow Warrior waiting for me as well. Please, have mercy.