One Must Fall: Battlegrounds Review
publisher: Diversions Entertainment
developer: Diversions Entertainment
PII 500, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 1GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Dec 17, 03
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To this very day the PC industry still falls short of a decent fighting game. So, if you're looking for a good virtual brawl, One Must Fall: Battlegrounds should ideally be right up your alley. OMF is all about kicking and bashing colossal humanoid robots around across battle arenas. But, as you discover quickly throughout gameplay, there's a bit more to it than mindless punch-ups. Our last experience with the game's beta significantly raised our expectations. Diversions Entertainment, the creative team lurking behind this project, spent well over two years ironing out the game. Only a few days ago, the full version arrived to the AT premises and we were ready to kick some robot butt. In case you're still unaware, we mentioned many times in our earlier updates that One Must Fall: Battlegrounds is actually a follow-up to the classic PC 2D beat-'em-up from 1994, One Must Fall: 2097. Diversions Entertainment radically perked things up, giving the game a full 3D look, plenty of new (and some familiar) characters, 12 fighting arenas to compete in, and an optional multiplayer mode.
The game is enwrapped in a tale which continues roughly about 20 years after the original (is it just me, or does practically every sequel continue 20 years after the original?). Anyhow, times have changed and people now prefer somewhat different forms of entertainment (no, pr0n has nothing to do with it). You live in an age when clashes of gigantic robots reign as the main sport event throughout the galaxy. Well, that's about it really. There's not much of a plot structure or story progression anywhere beyond that. Parts of the story are revealed through brief character dialogue before the beginning of each match and that's practically all there is to it. Although not particularly vital to a 3D brawler, the storyline seems adequate to give you a deeper sense of the characters and their involvement in the whole concept of giant futuristic robots smashing each other to bits. (This sentence just sounds weird as hell. I don't even know how to edit it. - Ed.) Certain characters from the original have made an appearance once again; many of them have retired from the tournaments, while others fight on.
At the outset, you may choose from several different characters (or pilots), players can select one of the eight robots they would prefer to fight in. Before entering your desired killing machine, you can check out the statistics and potentials of each character. All available pilots differ in the following parameters: power, agility, endurance, and focus. While shaping your ideal fighter, you may also look into the profile and brief back-story of the characters on offer. Nothing elaborate of course, but these biographies are still a good indication of what makes these individuals tick. Choosing HAR's (Human Assisted Robots) is slightly different though. There are only eight of them to choose from, but each has a number of default attacks, special moves, and powerful combos to utilize in battle. There's also a choice of super-attacks that can only be pulled off once your HAR gathers the appropriate amount of energy - this energy is accumulated during combat. Still, these so-called super-attacks don't offer any exceptional variety in terms of combat, since they represent slightly upgraded versions of your HAR's default moves. Players must also be aware that robots are a bit slow and bulky to maneuver during combat. For that reason, you must practice the use of miscellaneous evasive moves, like rolling away in a particular direction or simply doing a backflip. One of the things we enjoyed most was exercising various additional moves. For example, players are able to fire missiles at their adversaries, using a straightforward targeting system.
In addition to presenting an easy-to-use aiming system, One Must Fall: Battlegrounds features rather simple controls, which won't take you too long to master. Intuitive controls stand as the chief fundamental of any solid fighting game. OMF: Battlegrounds is no exception. Things might work even better if you use a gamepad - there are six main buttons (or keyboard keys) you need to combine during gameplay and that kind of works even smoother with a classic gamepad.
Arenas (twelve of them altogether) are areas expressly developed for combat, which means they are crammed with diverse devices, hazards, power-ups, and other items, scattered everywhere to assist you during matches. Your robot is able to use stuff like acid sprays, energy drains, and effective nuclear strikes, to his advantage. After playing the game for some time, the air-strike was definitely one of the hazards I enjoyed the most. Basically, to elaborate on your combat tactics, you have the ability to summon an air-strike to sweep over unsuspecting foes, considerably decreasing their energy if the strike is on target. If that's not enough, you are always able to lure opponents into traps; thrusting them into pools lava or water, ramming them against spinning blades, and so on.
Leading your unsuspecting computer opponents into traps was a walk in the park really. Regarding the AI, it was a bit difficult to determine the intelligence of your CPU opponents, mainly because there was so very little of it. Frankly, chances are players won't be all that challenged during the single-player campaign. CPU-controlled robots are relatively easy to beat in one-on-one matches, leaving you plenty of extra time to carry out a preferable combo. On the other hand, challenging multiple opponents at once slightly increases the game's difficulty and comes as an excellent way of training before you start fighting against player-operated adversaries. That, however, doesn't account for weak individual AI routines.
Luckily, the situation improves greatly when you jump into some online action. Diversions Entertainment saw a golden opportunity to establish its own community by announcing an elaborate multiplayer mode in One Must Fall: Battlegrounds ... and it was so. A majority of gamers will probably like this game for its multiplayer facet. There are only two modes available though: Last Man Standing and Demolition. Nonetheless, the arenas were well-designed and contain many features thanks to which players can enjoy multiplayer matches via Internet or LAN. The game allows you to participate in 16-player online matches. The truth is that gamers are liable to enjoy these matches only if a stable net connection is established. In praxis this proved a lot trickier than we thought. It was enough for one player to start experiencing lag for the whole match to turn into a disaster. Although the multiplayer mode is quite fun when it's working, most of the time we simply couldn't get it to do just that - work!
6.0 Above Average
Interesting concept preserving the spirit of the original, controls, number of features, solid multiplayer potential;
Unchallenging single-player campaign, buggish, slow framerate, weak AI, steep hardware requirements, feeble audio.