Monday, November 4, 2013

Gore Pace - Warface Review

   Warface is a browser-based FPS developed by Crytek. You are a member of the aptly-named team Warface, named after General Lee "Warface" Warton. Your mission? To destroy the vast, infinite forces of Blackwood who are helping individuals to profit off general pain and torment in various ways. There is a literal army you need to put down with your military skills and positive outlook. Good luck with that.


   This game features a cooperative mode where you work in a team of up to five players to take down the Blackwood forces. This isn't the easiest task, as it is heavily dependent on the competence of you and your teammates along with a general knowledge of how the game works. Each player is encouraged to fill a role, becoming any of the four classes available: Rifleman, Medic, Engineer, and Sniper. When starting out, you will only have access to Rifleman and Sniper and you get the other two after leveling a couple of times. It's best not to think of this as a cooperative game, though. There is a good PvP mode available, too, for just shooting your fellow man without an scenario to go along with it. However, I should go into specifics...
   RIGHT
   Co-Op: Fun
   Cooperative missions are surprisingly well-designed, taking advantage of the abilities of all four classes. Rifleman can restore ammo, Medic can restore health, Engineer can restore armor, and Sniper can snipe. Co-op maps are built in such a way that players won't have an easy time getting through without taking damage, and snipers will be best at killing roughly half the enemies that spawn. They aren't spotless, of course. One of the main failures of the cooperative mode lies in the lack of available maps.

This is your entire selection for the day.
   There are only three co-op maps available per day, swapped every day, though Warface actually contains around ten co-op maps. There are two "Initiation" maps you can replay as much as you want, but they don't rotate. This is perfect for some people, but not enough for others. If you wanted to play Warface as just as a co-op shooter, then there may not be enough here to leave you satisfied.

   Difficulty: Just Right
   I am talking strictly about co-op again here, as PvP is a different issue. There are three difficulty modes: Regular (Easy), Skilled (Medium), and Hardcore. Regular will leave you wondering what the big deal was. Skilled will have you yelling profanities at your teammates. Hardcore will have you yelling profanities at the developers. Hardcore is the real challenge, as it turns on friendly fire and enables enemies to do headshots. Which they will do as often as possible. Players such as myself may want to play only Hardcore mode, but only one Hardcore map is available per day (same as the other modes). This goes back to the lack of co-op options, but there is still a meaningful challenge to be had.

   Customization: Delayed
   There is very little customization starting off. You choose from an array of faces and begin the tutorial. However, as you play, you will get "Vendor Points" which are separate from experience points. Vendor points allow you to purchase equipment in the shop. All of the guns, gun customizations, and armor equips must be unlocked through the vendor system. Once you get some stuff unlocked, you can press the "C" key and customize your gun on the spot.

Or just look at the locked options and sigh.
   This creates something of a double-edged sword. Unlocking things gives you a great sense of progression as you continue playing the game, since the later guns and equips get pretty cool. However, this also means that progression can be very, very slow and the higher-level players will always have a distinct advantage   . Great for PvE, bad for PvP.

   Pay-to-Win Status: Negative
   The weapons you start with are noticeably bad, with minimal stats and a lack of customization options. However, you can upgrade permanently to better weapons relatively quickly. Cash allows you access to VIP which boosts gains, and boxes. These are items from the shop that give you a small chance at something really good. Similar to them are crown boxes, which use "'Crown' Money" gotten primarily from doing co-op mode. These are much harder to obtain and they give different items. This leads me to believe that you can't quite get everything without paying cash, but you should easily be able to compete without paying a dime. Now let's look at this game's real issues...

   WRONG
   Immersion: Broken
   There are a few obstacles to immersion. First, there are the movements and animations. While nice to look at, both tend to be a little sluggish which makes dodging difficult and reloading frustrating. Keep in mind that you can not move through people but you can push them around, including your own teammates. If you want to keep a tight formation you will likely find everyone getting in the way, and if a grenade comes along then you don't move fast enough to be able to avoid it.
   The other obstruction to immersion is the bosses in Warface. There are currently two bosses and one mini-boss in the game: The Helicopter (Apache map), the Mech (Mech map), and the Heavy Gunner (all maps). To destroy the Mech you need to shoot the glowing weakpoint on the cockpit and on top of the mech. For the Heavy Gunner, you need to destroy the glowing weakpoint on its backpack. The actual hitboxes for these weakpoints are deceptively small, causing you to miss shots that you thought were right on-point. When the rest of Co-Op mode plays so smoothly, you may begin to just sigh every time you have to fight a Heavy.

Why don't you just cover it up...
   Balance: A Little Frustrating
   One thing I neglected to mention earlier about the different classes is that they also each control a specific type of weapon. Rifleman can only use assault rifles, Medic can only use shotguns, Engineer can only use smgs, and Sniper can only use sniper rifles. I should also mention that all classes can use their abilities on themselves. This means that the same class that holds the shotgun, the Medic, can also heal itself. Unsurprisingly, if one person survives a team wipe-out in co-op and proceeds to get to the next checkpoint, saving everyone, then they were most likely medics.
   In PvP, players frequently take advantage of Warface's sweet combat slide. The slide puts you close to the ground, looks awesome, and lets you shoot with high accuracy as if you're standing still. This makes it most useful for shotguns. However, I don't want to give the wrong impression. All classes are equally represented in PvP... except for Rifleman. Snipers are always a popular class because they're easy and get a lot of kills, Medics have the slide-shotgun monopoly, and Engineers have claymores. Yes, claymores are in this game. Riflemen, however, don't seem to have any special advantages in PvP. They have the advantage of using arguably the best primary weapon, but that skill is mainly useful for their role in co-op (along with their infinite ammo). After all, an amazing rifle isn't going to help you against a bullet to the brain or a claymore to the shins. My point is that if you are deadset on playing Rifleman, you are going to have play quite a bit better than your fellow soldiers.

   GFace: Go Away
   Here is a simple, controversial fact that you may not be aware of: Warface is not a browser game. It's not. It pretends to be one, but it belongs as a standalone download. If it was, there would probably be fewer instances of you waiting around for loading screens and browser lag. A browser game should not be this inconvenient.


Loading...
   The first time you try playing Warface, you will have to wait for it to download around two gigabytes of data, and you will also have to wait every time the game updates. You will then also have to sit through a somewhat lengthy loading screen every time you enter or leave a match. I personally recommend that when you start the game, you go into the options and turn off Fullscreen. This stops the game from having to switch back and forth between fullscreen and window whenever you enter or leave a game, and also lets you see the GFace chat bar on the left (seen on the first screenshot in this review).
   GFace is the website you have to go through in order to play Warface. Crytek will post updates on the GFace page and you are encouraged to accrue GFace "Connections" to chat and play Warface with. The reason I say "Go Away" is because I have a feeling that the reason Warface is in a browser at all is just so GFace will have an easier time interacting with it. However, the two entities are separate. Adding someone in-game does not add them as a connection on GFace and vice versa.
   I also have a problem with GFace's user interface, but this is a review about Warface, not GFace.

   Safe House: Empty
   There is a button at the top of the main menu enabling you to enter your safe house. However, besides testing weapons, there isn't much to do here. Even being able to just hang with friends in this area would be nice. I'm confident that Crytek will improve this area with time, though.

...how did I even get here? Was I that high last night?
   Minor Problems: So Many
   In the interest of order, I'm going to list the rest of the problems in a bullet point format. These problems aren't large enough to devote a whole section to, but they are too numerous. I do apologize for this wall of text.
   - Tutorial: Certain key aspects of the game are not explained until you have leveled up and unlocked the rest of the classes.
   - Tutorial (2): Unlocking the next class automatically boots you from your room to take the tutorial.
   - Bugs: Players have frequently complained of bugs that stop them from doing various things until they die.
   - Hackers (Few): Hackers are a rare event, but they are definitely in the game.
   - No Solo: There are no solo missions in the game, and you can't start a co-op mission by yourself.
   - Announcer: The announcer is Warface gets very repetitive in the PvP mode "Storm", and can simply be very annoying in Co-op as she tells you to shoot the Heavy Gunner in his back.
   - Mouse Acceleration: It is built into the game but there is no way to turn it off. Attempting to move the mouse too slowly will result in your crosshair moving excessively slow, if it moves at all.
   - Uninstallation: As said before, it installs at least two gigabytes of data, but there's no option to remove it. To uninstall the game, you have to delete the browser plugin and delete the Program Data file manually.
   - Contracts: You can accept "Contracts", which will bestow a small reward if you complete them. However, you can only accept one at a time, you can't cancel them, and there is no confirmation dialogue on acceptance. Time to expire? 24 hours.
   - Assists: Don't give any points in any mode. Causes complaints of stolen kills.
   - Enemy Spawns: Enemies in co-op don't all spawn at once. In a couple of instances, an enemy won't spawn until you get very close to their spawn point, making some maps artificially more difficult.
   - Starting Customization: There was only one black avatar? D:

   Final Score: 3.5 out of 5

   Warface mainly just suffers from a lack of options. The game has tremendous potential and I really want to see it go places. With support and an influx of players to fill out its population, it could grow to be the best free FPS available. Right now, however, it has a lot of wrinkles to iron out and a lot of content that needs to be added. There is still more than enough there to keep you interested, so I would encourage people to overload their servers as often as possible. Just make sure to keep an extra window open so you have something to do during the loading screens.

Bonus! Of course I cropped the sidebar chat off these images for a reason. I was Engineer this game.
   Extra Things to Know
   - You can help other players up designated ledges. It's a nice animation, but you are locked into it for the duration. Pressing "E" again lets you boost another player up without going up yourself.
   - If your team gets wiped in Cooperative, then you must restart from the beginning. Checkpoints just refill resources and revive players.
   - Maps don't change with difficulty. There are, however, different versions of the same map. For some reason, they aren't labeled differently. Two different versions of the Mech stage will both just say "Mech".
   - There are "Commander's Orders" your team can complete every Co-Op mission for 10% more earnings.
   - There is a First Win of the Day bonus. You can get it for each Co-Op mode every day.
   - There are 148 challenges you can complete to earn "stripes", "marks", and "badges" to customize your username.

Achievements ARE the modern age of video games.

6 comments:

  1. What is this? Words? No one likes words. No one likes a face full of warpaint either. The internet does not wish your warface to be shown.

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  2. You summed up this game surprisingly well; although I disagree with the rating (more to my own personal opinion, though), everything was well explained and well done according to my experiences. There's a few things I would like to address, though.

    -I've never had mouse acceleration or noticed it. Could it potentially be a problem relating to your mouse or GFace or something like that?
    -On the topic of balance in PvP, the problem I noticed even more than riflemen being hardly represented by anyone other than the class-locked beginners is that this game's PvP is Call of Duty: Splinter Cell. Engineer (and his green-dot mask) is by far the most played class, and every room has at least half or more of its residents playing him. I find it mostly due to the fact that his SMG is highly versatile in most situations (attachments for long range gunplay) and you can't walk around five feet without triggering a claymore. In fact, I tested the blast range myself and found it to be unbelievably powerful. In the few times that you actually catch sight of one before triggering it, you have to take quite a number of steps back before shooting it, making it one of the fastest ways to get a quick kill and to end a spree out of bad luck. Health is hardly a concern in PvP due to how quickly you die in it as opposed to co-op, and many maps are medium-short ranged, making it somewhat difficult to snipe. It seems as if though they gave the all-purpose role of the rifleman to the engie.
    -Enemy spawns feels more like an 'extra things to know' sort of thing to me. It certain doesn't help with immersion, but for those who find the game too difficult, it's seen more as a factor you take advantage of. One common strategy is to send one or two players to activate a wave and then camp back so riot shielders and CQB aren't mixed with snipers and Spec-Ops.
    -Something to add to the bugs category is that you can fall into the tank in a convoy mission and use it as a shield, and that in one of the maps, you can render the Mech useless by attracting his attention to a spot that he constantly tries to mow down in failure, making him a sitting duck.
    -One minor problem to add: If you die in hardcore (even by friendly fire) at the end of the mission, your rewards are reduced to crumbs. What if some rager didn't like how his team played and went on a killing spree in the helicopter?

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    1. First, I would like to say thank you for reading and thank you for the compliment! The score is arbitrary; it's based on fun-value. I had a lot of fun playing the co-op, but the limited content forces me to play PvP which isn't quite as fun in my opinion. Besides the score, I definitely agree with most of what you're saying.

      - You may not have noticed the mouse acceleration thing because your mouse doesn't have it available or you haven't turned it on. Many games have an option for mouse acceleration to be turned on or off in-game so that you don't need to go to your mouse's settings. I considered maybe it was just me having this problem, but upon doing a Google search on the matter, I've found that it is an issue.
      - Nothing to add here. I think you're totally correct about the Engineer.
      - The enemy spawns I considered a problem specifically BECAUSE someone always has to go forward and trigger it. It reminds you that it's a video game and, personally, I don't like having to do it in Hardcore. On some maps, they use it as an excuse to "surprise" you with CQBs (which usually instakill you on Hardcore). I know exactly where they are and where they're going to spawn, but I have to go forward and take damage anyway?

      - I didn't mention the tank or mech bugs since they don't harm gameplay as much as blocking controls. However, I guess they are things people should know about, since Hardcore Mech is ridiculous to fight fairly and some players might think the tank bug is a hack or something. Hopefully people will read the comments.

      - I didn't even know about that one. Every time someone raged in Hardcore, they killed everyone immediately in the middle of the map. Guess I'll have to take extra care from now on.
      Lastly, make sure to add me in game or on GFace (same name). I'm currently still playing it.

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    2. If you don't get my friend request, my IGN is Luzoto (lol I'm too lazy to log in)

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  3. Great article. I've imagined the game to be different, but it's still a great game. Co-op is ridiculously pitiful and to find a right team? gg
    They need to consolidate the channels, I have created 3 new accounts cause there isn't anyone playing late night (ny-est) 1-12 // 12-50 // 1-7x pwn nibs all night. gg
    Although I often prefer Engineers as well, Riflemen is the only class which allows you to pick up a different gun and reload it fully. When playing storm, it allows you to become an Assaulter, to a defending Camper with a sniper. Yeah we can just die,respawn blah blah, but I like to keep my kdr sexy and it's more fun utilizing all of the skills properly. gg

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    1. That's actually a really good point. Weapons always have only one clip in them if you picked them up off another player, but since you're an Assault you can just refill it. That literally never occurred to me. Thanks for the tip!

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