Level design is fairly solid and varied enough to keep you interested. There’s a nice collection of labs, underground areas, and office areas so that you don’t get too bored. There are a few alternate routes to get to some places but nothing too fancy and nothing that distracts you from reaching the end goal of the game. I think there were only a few moments where I didn’t know what to do next which is a nice change of pace.
As I mentioned earlier the first few levels did drag a bit for me though but once you through them and out into the world the game does pick up a bit. There are a few nice set action sequences in the game and a fairly decent end level boss battle. The game does scale it’s difficulty up and down as you are playing so as go through the game it adjusts itself to your playing style. If you constantly die in one part of the game the game will change the bad guys around a bit the next time you enter that part of the game. I had this happen a few times when the game removed a chain gun guy from one area of the map after the third time he killed me.
I have to hand it to Ritual, the song that plays over the opening menu of the game is excellent and really sets the mood for the game immediately with a definite kind of James Bond feel to it. The rest of the sound effects get the job done and all of the guns have a nice oomph feel to them. The voices are decent and while not over the top they don’t grate on your or make you want to turn them off.
The folks at Ritual have done a pretty good job with coming up with some decent models and textures for the game. I do question the need to model in OPL for Jessica Cannon but other than that the game looks good. While the graphics and firefights aren’t quite at the level of F.E.A.R. they do a pretty good job and provide more variety in five hours of game play than Vivendi’s FPS did in 15.
The game also has a stats engine that sits in the background monitoring how you are playing the game. Want to know how many times you’ve jumped in combat? It’s there. Want to know how well the game is scaling up/down to your level of play? It’s in there as well as a host of other interesting facts and figures about how you choose to send enemies to the electronic afterlife.
All in all I think Ritual did a solid job with their first outing into Episodic content. I did have the game crash on me a couple of times (which might have been the result of out of date video drivers) but I run into a few bugs during the game that looked like real defects. In one part of the game you are given a ride in a car and have to get out of the car in order to clear out some obstacles and I somehow got stuck in the car and wasn’t able to get out. From looking at the patch that was released this week it looks like that bug was addressed though.
I also have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to release the game during the week of E3 as the game seems to have gotten a bit lost in the shuffle of everything that was going on. I initially was going to pass on purchasing and reviewing the game (I’m back logged as it is) but then I saw this post and decided that $20 wasn’t that much of a sacrifice to support a good developer and after playing the game I decided to go ahead and review it since it’s a pretty good FPS game.
The few glitches aside I don’t have a real problem recommending the game to FPS fans as you’re definitely going to get your $20’s worth as long as you manage your expectations about the game. Not only do you get a new gaming experience but Ritual is throwing in a copy of the original game (which has multiplayer) into the mix. I’m looking forward to seeing where Ritual takes the series as the first episode was a decent start to a new franchise and hopefully they can build on it.
A good first step into the world of episodic content, the game is not perfect but
Emergence is a decent way to re-start this franchise and kick off this new type of gameplay.
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