is an action RPG set in the Dark Future, a world torn by ravaging wars and global catastrophe. The world’s traditional countries have dissolved, to be replaced by governing mega-corporations. These corporations control city-states, islands of humanity surrounded by mutant-infested wastelands. Of course, like any action RPG, these wastelands are also filled with destroyed cities, warehouses, and bunkers. All of these are perfect “dungeons” for a post-apocalyptic shooter.
Not wanting to venture too far from stereotype, Restricted Area
keeps things nice and familiar in their selection of characters. Players can choose to play the Heavy Weapons Guy, the Amazing-Mind-Powers Gal, the Futuristic Samurai, or the Elite-Hacker-with-Her-Pet-Robot. Each of these characters has their own unique feel, at least after a bit of leveling and customized upgrades. Most players should be able to find at least one or two characters to fit their playing style. For example, Heavy Weapons Guy just wades into combat, guns blazing. I became a bit bored with my first playthrough using him, and was pleasantly surprised at how much different and refreshing it was to try again with the Hacker character.
The gameplay is classic, Diablo-style blast-n-slash. This is in no way a bad thing, as this style game managed to suck me in with the classic carrot-and-stick approach of “kill things and take their stuff.” Restricted Area
does fumble a bit, though, with a limited number of monsters and goodies. After an hour or so of gameplay, I saw almost all of the monster and item types. A Level 5 Fat Mutant looks and acts in all ways like a level 12 Fat Mutant, differing only in the amount of damage it can dish out and absorb. Likewise, item acquisition became dull all too quickly, as there is only one “type” of each weapon or cyber-enhancement. Each item differs widely in statistics, but the feeling of sameness as yet another “Pistol” or “Cyber-Heart” falls to the ground is tough to shake.
On an amusing note, armor in the Dark World of Tomorrow is non-existent. Through the miracle of technology, characters are able to protect and enhance themselves by swapping out their sorry, low-grade original body parts for the shiny new cyberware or bio-engineered replacements that just happened to be carried by the gibbering face-hugger mutants. In addition, installation of these body parts couldn’t be easier. Even when hip-deep in the corpses of freshly-slain mutants, characters can quickly change that pesky old leg for a brand-new, shiny Cyberleg. And if that isn’t amazing enough, characters can even swap out their skin, hearts, and brains on the field of battle.
Combat is very straightforward. Shoot and/or slash at the hoards of ravening mutants until everything stops moving. Monster AI is rather poor, as just about every enemy acts in exactly the same fashion. Melee monsters charge headlong into withering fire, while ranged monsters stand back and shoot. Occasionally I would notice a wounded monster try to wander away, but more often than not most monsters would just keep advancing until dead. This resulted in combat being fairly easy, although large swarms of enemies and the occasional boss monster could prove to be difficult.
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