VGToday

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20/10/2012 - 15:00

Quick Impressions: Warface

Warface’s PvP component was instantly familiar when I managed to get some time with the forthcoming Crytek shooter. At the Class Selection screen, I decided to go for Medic – a class that, thankfully, happens to spawn with an assault shotgun, the perfect fit for the rather tinchy map we were playing on.

In less than 30 seconds, I had sprinted across the map and unloaded my shotgun into somebody’s face. First blood. If you have ever played a first-person shooter before, class based or otherwise, you should feel right at home here. Guns hit hard, sound satisfying, and even in the twenty-or-so minute game I played, I started to feel right at home – sneaking around the map, tossing grenades into convenient corners, and making sure to engage enemies in my personal, up-close-and-personal comfort zone of shotgunny death.

The flipside of that familiarity is, well, the fact it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I haven’t played a Call of Duty game since COD2 on my original Xbox, but even to me Warface seemed awfully similar to Activision’s behemoth – the small, confined maps with tight corridors, the instantaneous deaths, the customisable load-outs. That’s not a bad thing, but on the over-crowded PC first-person shooter market, you can’t help but ask exactly what Warface will do to stand out from the hordes of wannabes.

It does have one, rather obvious edge – it’s free. Warface won’t cost a single penny, meaning every man and their metaphorical dog can give it a try for nothing at all – and while it may have felt comfortably familiar, Warface most definitely doesn’t feel cheap. Free or or not, this remains a Crytek game, built using the same engine that will power Crysis 3, and it shows.

It’s really, really pretty. From the models to the textures, lighting and sound, everything looks and feels top-notch. The map design, while often a little too enclosed for my liking, remains three dimensional and well thought out, with multiple floors, a variety of approaches and some wide open areas to mix things up a little. Purely as a game, free or not, Warface felt very good indeed.

Of course, I didn’t have to actually buy any items at all: on the build I played, four classes were unlocked, and you couldn’t buy anything. It will be interesting to see how the payment model will work out when the game is finally published in Europe in a few months.

Games that are competitive and free-to-play walk a very, very fine line, and while everyone playing will have to accept the possibility of becoming second-class-citizens, they can’t feel disadvantaged. Any pretence of competition goes flying out of the window the moment a player feels they should be paying to win - and that’s especially important for Warface, because Crytek hopes this makes a serious dent in the world of E-sports, and that can’t really work if it isn’t fair.

Thankfully, in Russia – where the game has already been released – that doesn’t seem to have been a problem, with it already boasting over one million registered players. Will it succeed similarly in Europe and the US? It’s hard to say. We’re talking about a very different market, and Warface will in fact be run by an entirely separate company in the west – Trion Worlds.

Still, for the one match I had, I enjoyed myself, and that’s without trying to unlock anything, or even touching the co-operative mode. Will Warface have the impact Crytek is obviously hoping it will have, or will it fade away in the flood of perfectly good free first-person-shooters? It’s still too early to note. There is a perfectly good game here, but is that enough?

Warface is currently expected to launch in the west sometime this winter. Keep an eye out for a VGTODAY interview with the game’s producer, Peter Holzapfel, in the coming days.

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