20 July, 2014

Review - Show Me Your Warface

Warface may not be pushing any frontiers; technical or otherwise, but it also won't burn a hole in your wallet (or purse), unless you have a weakness for Brazilian World Cup themed smoke grenades.


Warface is Crytek’s modern military, multiplayer, first-person shooter; well if that wasn’t enough to get you excited, its free to play. Don’t worry, they’ll find a way of making you pay for something. Warface offers two modes of play; a series of short co-operative missions and of course, the genre standard competitive multiplayer.

The former game mode pits a squad of five players against a series of increasingly difficult missions, split into tiers; Initiation, Regular, Skilled and so on. These missions encourage teamwork and effective use of the game’s four classes; rifleman, sniper, medic and engineer, as the missions increase in difficulty. Teamwork is particularly key if you don’t want to purchase resurrection tokens, more on Warface’s business practices later, but in short; bring a medic. Early co-operative forays will deploy your squad knee-deep in fodder enemies for about fifteen minutes at a time, later missions will pit your team against armoured brutes wielding chain guns and huge, hulking mech suits. Mechs you say? Yes, Warface has some futuristic elements, don’t get ahead of yourself – that’s about as wild and creative as it gets.

Genre standard.

Warface’s competitive multiplayer is fully featured, but that’s all that it is – no revolutionary or exotic game modes to be found here, nor does it attempt to redefine the classics. Free-for-all, team deathmatch and capture (the briefcase, not flag) are all there. Warface also has an equivalent of the Battlefield series’ Rush game type, called Storm; an attacking team progresses through a map by capturing a series of objectives and the defending team tries to hold out for fifteen minutes. Unlike it’s co-operative counterpart, competitive multiplayer is too frantic to allow the four classes to influence the flow of the combat in any tangible way; if you die, hit space and respawn, its usually much faster than waiting for a medic to turn up and heal you.

You won't get lost on these maps.
Competitive multiplayer’s devolution into basic running and gunning, is in no small part due to the cramped confines of the maps you fight on and the frantic gameplay this setting rewards. The maps are narrow and dense, for example, the map ‘Aul’, is both lean and short; effectively two lanes with two crossing branches. In an evenly matched game, the chokepoints on a map – which is just about all points on a map, can lead to some satisfying engagements; snipers shooting over the shoulders of medic, whilst they scramble to apply their defibrillators to the chests of the downed riflemen. Where do the engineers fit into this scenario you ask, they are probably planting claymore mines behind every other corner on the map.

Medics shoot, they don’t heal.

The likelihood of partaking in such engagements is rare however; if your team is even marginally superior you’ll roll over the opposing force with ease, trapping them in the narrow hallways and streets, and vice versa. There is nothing to stop your opponents from setting up camp at the two exits of the room you spawn in and mowing your team down each time you resurrect. This frustration can be leveraged against many a multiplayer shooter, and naturally, the better team should win. However, for a class based game where player choice is encouraged,  it is disappointing that the classes, and their associated abilities, do not more tangible impact on the outcome of a competitive match.

This is not Crysis.

Crytek is perhaps best known for their graphical prowess; one cannot discuss Crysis, their premiere first-person shooter franchise, without commenting on the sublime visuals, technical and artistic. Warface looks fine and that is about the extent of it, it looks sharp but certainly not breath-taking and a lot less inspired than Crytek’s other work. Furthermore, the extremely generic (and brief) mission briefings are delivered with an astoundingly lack of personality, visually they look out of place, and the voice acting won’t make you anymore interested in the reason your shooting up this particular middle-eastern village.

Warface offers some (slightly) less common movement options from other first-person shooters; you can break into a slide mid sprint, vault over walls and low cover, and help lift teammates onto higher ground. I found the sliding to be at its best when on the receiving end – landing a headshot on a shotgun wielding opponent as they careen around a corner is extremely rewarding. Giving teammates boosts up walls and onto ledges is worthwhile, it can create some lethal ambush scenarios in the narrow confines of a map, after all there isn’t a wealth of alternate routes for the enemy to use. In stark contrast to the sliding mechanic, mantling low cover is much slower, transitioning into and out of the animation feels clunky and cumbersome. There’ll likely be at least one enemy on the other side of the wall waiting to cut you down mid animation.

As a free-to-play game, Warface is all too happy to take your cash in exchange for guns, gear and consumables. ‘Kredits’ can be bought with real money, and can be used to buy; some specific items (weapons and gear), resurrection tokens for use in co-op missions, and random item boxes. ‘Warface Dollars’ are earned through play and can’t be purchased, these allow for similar purchases as the Kredits. Finally, ‘Crowns’ can be earned, at an exceedingly slow rate by completing certain goals on co-op missions, such as; complete the mission in under X number of minutes. Oddly, items, like guns that are unlocked through the random item boxes are time based, you effectively rent these items. The weapons and clothing I purchased remained mine for one day – real time, not game time, the timer ticks down even when you’re not logged in to the game. To get the most use of your purchases you’ll want to buy them before playing, or pay more to extend the time available for use. Certain items can be permanently purchased, for a higher price, and the random item boxes are class specific, so you’ll get items for classes you use at least.

Nothing that you haven't seen elsewhere.

Warface is free, you can play without paying for anything, but will you want to? It is exceptionally middling, all gameplay aspects have been featured in other games in the genre, and in many cases, featured better. Furthermore, Crytek themselves have developed a number of graphically superior games to Warface, it simply does nothing to raise itself above the bustling pack of first-person shooters.  

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