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developer: 4D Rulers
PII-300, 32MB RAM, 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 05, 02 (released)
|» All About Gore on ActionTrip|
The FPS gaming scene has become increasingly unforgiving for smaller development teams. Just look at some of the block-busters that are out today: Jedi Knight 2, Soldier of Fortune 2; or the upcoming heavy-hitters like Unreal 2 and Doom 3. That's not a pleasant crowd of competitors for any development team, let alone a bunch of people who obviously don't have a triple-A budget to contend with. (Still, there are exceptions to this rule and proof that originality and talent can go a long way - just look at Croteam's Serious Sam.)
Meet Shaft's older brother.
Hey, put out that torch pal!
You could say that Gore is one such project - at least when it comes to the game's production budget. Gore has been in development forever and a day, it seems and all the while, Joel and his 4D Rulers gang had to struggle with delays, lack of a decent publisher, and all sorts of other problems that go with the territory. Luckily for them, all the hard work, the blood (gore?), sweat and tears have finally paid off - Gore is now resting on the shelves with a big ole' DreamCatcher logo (the publisher) slapped up on the box.
And now it's time to face the critics - first the numerous game reviewers (such as myself), and ultimately, the gaming crowd. It's been a while since I've played the MP demo of this game. I remember thinking at the time: "OK, the graphics are, well, a tad dated, but the gameplay does have certain upsides to it." Bear in mind though that this was quite a long time ago and that today computer graphics are galloping faster than a bunch of hamsters chasing that guy (Eddie's fellow professor) from Nutty Professor 2. So as time passed, so did Gore's chance that it might NOT look dated once it finally hit the stores. On surface, the game looks, well... retro. It supports nice high-res textures but the dynamic lights are overly elaborate and too 70's Disco; the gameplay models are funny, blocky and poorly animated.
As for the gore in Gore, you could say there are plenty of gibs flying around, but since they're rather poorly done and cartoonish in style, it all looks far less brutal than Soldier of Fortune 2, even with the violence lock. Gore is not a game about superior 3D graphics, nor is it a masterpiece in terms of sound effects and the featured musical scores. However, bearing in mind the obvious low production value of this project and the fact that the development team had to carry the whole thing on its back, the bells and whistles of Gore are not nearly as bad as I thought they might be. It's no Serious Sam mind you, but it's still good enough to keep the more aesthetic FPS players from uninstalling the game right of the bat on the grounds of crappy visuals. A few of the environments in the game look appealing. Some on the other hand, look like Jason Hall had a few things to say about the art design. All in all, I'd say it's dated, but it actually pleasantly surprised me on a couple of occasions.
The segment where this game comes through for the more patient of shooter fans is the rather balanced and dynamic gameplay, and an excellent variety of well-balanced weapons. The story in Gore is hardly worth mentioning - you're a UMC soldier fighting in future against a band of thugs and hackers known as the MOB. MOB wants to control both the real and cyber world, and it's up to you to thwart their plans. As I said, hardly worth a mention, but the gameplay build-up, and the balanced arsenal is evidence that the team 1) knows their FPS gaming, and 2) has spent a whole lot of time play testing this game. I guess they realized that they cannot compete with the big boys in terms of 3D code bells and whistles, so they turned to making the gameplay experience as fluid and intense as possible. Here is the proof of Gore's simplistic approach to game design - there is no use button. You won't have to open any doors or pull any levers, let alone solve any sort of jumping puzzle. Gore is all about racing through levels at breakneck speed and shooting everything in sight. Some of the newer FPS fans that are more into storylines and cinematic sequences might think that this kind of gameplay is a cheap substitution for Space Invaders, but there are many of us (especially old-school FPS gamers) who believe that this kind of gameplay can still glue you to the screen for a couple of hours a day. The old school FPS fan thinks that if it's balanced enough, in terms of pacing the action and the number of enemies, and it provides enough new weapons to keep you busy, it just might be fun enough to play through the end.
This is where Gore becomes very gory!
This place could do with a new paint job afterwards.
It is my opinion that 4D Rulers has succeeded in this. The bosses are tough, but not too tough, especially if you're playing on the 'above average' difficulty level. The enemies keep coming at you, and although they're not the smartest bunch ever, they will chase you and a dodge left and right when needed. There are also some neat tricks, like when you hit an enemy with bolts of electricity, the shock causes him to wield his weapon uncontrollable and shoot in all direction. The (relative) variety of the opponents and their combat styles can keep you going throughout the single-player portion of the game (MOB's fat bikers for example charge at you like raging bulls, only much slower, with a beer can in one hand and a whole lot of fist in the other, while the gun slinging vixens try to use their agility to dodge your bullets; the bombers on the other hand will use flash bangs to blind you and then have their way with you).
Moreover, I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of available weapons - ranging from nuts and bolts rifles, to various types of shotguns, a flame thrower, rocket launcher, etc. All of these weapons have an alternative firing mode, which makes them even more versatile and interesting to use. For example, one of the shotguns can generate a shield of a sort, which will protect you from enemy projectile fire but it doesn't protect you from flames. For true close-quarter firepower though, you should probably switch to the heavy-shotgun, which fires four barrels of buckshot at once if fired in an alternative mode. Nearly every weapon in the game is unique and useful for something, and that is, you'll agree, a commendable quality in a 3D shooter. 4D Rulers has also included a locational damage model and hit zone system, so hitting an armored (yes, some enemies wear armor) in the head will most likely knock his helmet off, and make him more vulnerable.
One other neat trick that adds some spice to the gameplay is the fact that there are various character classes in the game (which predominantly comes in handy in multiplayer fights). The player types mostly differ in physical abilities and some even have decent default weapons. Gore also introduces a concept of stamina. If your character is running a lot, and he's fat, his stamina will go down fast and he'll become slower than a molasses running uphill. However, this feature is not nearly as influential on the gameplay as developers probably thought it might be.
Lastly, once you're done with the single-player, I recommend hitting some of the online game servers and playing a few matches. It ain't exactly SOF2 MP, but it's decent fun and in a different, retro way. The biggest and best part of the multiplayer is that the net code is rock solid. After playing a few rounds on a few different servers (> 150 ping) I noticed little to no stutter. That's a very very good thing to have if multiplayer is your bag, baby. And for the price tag of $29.99, PC shooter fans with not so many dineros to spare should try this one out.
All in all, I think that this was more a game to show the world what 4D is capable of technology wise. If they were to hook up with some more creative game designers, this technology could make for some very nice, inexpensive games in the future. 4D definitely set out to do what it intended, however. To make a solid, fast-paced FPS that is solid in both single-player and multiplayer settings. Now if they get the design part down, they would have had a winner. Alas.
However, if you're a casual fan looking for a proper bang for your buck, I say skip this one and try out some of the more quality titles like Jedi Knight 2 and Soldier of Fortune 2.
Dynamic gameplay, nice variety of weapons and opponents; weapons balancing; given the circumstances, engine is very solid;
Way too retro, Poor model quality and animation, this style of gaming doesn't sell all too well anymore.
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