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- REVIEW: Pillars of Eternity
publisher: Tri Synergy
developer: Freeform Interactive LLC
PII-450, 128MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Apr 02, 03
|» All About Purge on ActionTrip|
Back in the early days of Quake there was a mod called Future Vs. Fantasy (FvF for short). It was one of the first team-based and class-based mods, and was a competitor of the first incarnation of Team Fortress. As time marched solemnly by, leaving the Quake 1 engine in the annals of history, Team Fortress went on to great things with Valve and FvF seemingly got left behind, as an almost forgotten memory. The keyword in that statement is almost, as now, in 2003, Freeform Interactive has taken the older LithTech engine and done the sequel to its mod, which is now called Purge.
I'm mean because I'm bald, and I wear a red toga!
Lots of shiny lights make this reviewer happy.
Purge's gameplay is multiplayer only and revolves around whooping your opponents' collective asses and blowing up their portal while protecting your own. Essentially, this is a class based mutant capture the flag. Both sides (The Order, who use technology to achieve their goals, and The Chosen, mages and warriors who are very powerful in their own right) have ample defensive and offensive strategies and both sides play on the two extremes of identical and nothing alike. There's also an interesting element of role playing where you gain points by not only "purging" your opponents or destroying their portal, but also by helping your team via the health packs, portal shields, radars, ammo drops and other things you can create with one of the three abilities each class has. The points that you earn can enhance the stats (Strength, dexterity, intelligence, et cetera) of your character along with each class having subclasses that specialize in individual things. So the question remains - is this game any good?
Purge, despite not having the best graphics ever, is chock full 'o' fun. The game doesn't play like most first person shooters; it has a slower pace that allows teams to utilize different tactics than in a faster twitch-based shooter. All of the characters have a distinct feel to them despite having the same goals in mind. For example, the Android and the Mage both have the same goal of healing and defending the portal as well as taking down the enemy's defenses - yet I found that playing the mage was very different than playing the Android (Both teams are very different in general, The Chosen never have to reload but it takes longer between shots) and, at least for me, being a chick with a magic stick was more fun than being a robot. The game goes for the heavy demo classes, the Monk and the Wastelander, were as the Monks telekinetic bubble attack is almost always a one or two shot kill, it's very well balanced against the Wastelander's chemical grenade attack that can do immense damage to the enemy's portal as well as keeping the enemy out of the area with the damage is doles out, yet both are charged with giving out health and ammo drops and a super attack as their abilities. These differences make both sides very different to play, which, in turn, encourage the player to try every class to find the one that suits you best. Also, when the player bores of any one class, playing another is a significant enough change that the game takes on a whole new approach.
The role-playing aspect is very well implemented. Toying around with how you want to play, not only as an Order Commando but making your character even more of a sniper than he already is via more dexterity adds a lot of depth to play and replayability even after you've played lots of multiplayer games in the past. Getting XP not just for killing but also for simply giving health packs or shielding your team's portal makes the game not just a "run in and kill everything" type of game. The gameplay is much more interesting. Do you create shields and protect the portal, or do you scout the area and set up radar stations, or do you create health packs and ammo drops, or do you simply destroy the enemy and try to take their defenses down? There's a lot of different ways to play this game.
The game may use aging technology, but at thirty bucks, it's a steal. Besides, for that price it's either this, or another Sims expansion (Perish the thought - Ed). Plus the decision to base this off of an older graphics engine allows almost any system to play it flawlessly. The net code is also very nice - once when playing with a group of people from all across the western hemisphere I experienced no lag except for once when a player had huge network problem. This bodes well for Purge's future.
More LSD-induced action.
I'm hiding behind my yellow base, but I'm not yella.
The levels are varied and amazing in design in a many cases. For example, one has gigantic skeletons all over the place for you to run around in as you make your way towards the enemy. Another is filled with gigantic trees with one base at the top and one base at the bottom, yet the map is balanced since the bottom base is enclosed and the higher base is out in the open so the longer uphill run is balanced out.
The game did not have a huge budget, and sadly, it shows. The game is not a technical marvel by any scale, the aging engine shows its limitations and the sound is iffy in some spots ("THE _______ WINS!" at the end of each match is hell on the ears with its graininess). The developers do show their skill with what they had to work with, however, and hopefully, given time and a serious budget, we can see good things coming from them in the future. That being said, I found myself ultimately unsatisfied by how terrible the game can look in some places. On the level Canopy the constant repetition of the grass texture really took a lot away from the level. It looks almost amateurish. I felt that something was missing as I was playing, like I was trying to force myself through a brick wall to play it even though I was having fun getting killed.
Which brings me to another point; sometimes the teams can feel unbalanced. The Chosen can get mowed down on the more closed in levels, as the guns really do play different. The faster rate of fire and the lack of places to escape to make them easy targets, but the same goes for levels where it's more open, the Chosen can molest the Order by simply being able to hide and forcing them into a corner or surprising them.
I also find that some levels can have parts where you can get stuck in, or are so easily defendable that it becomes almost futile to attack the enemy at all. Getting stuck and having to jump out of it at an inopportune moment can suck, or having an enemy that places shield arrays at crucial choke points that you'll find yourself constantly getting killed (Touching an enemy shield at all is instant death) can add a lot of frustration in some cases, especially when you first start playing and can get so disoriented that you have no idea what the hell is going on.
Being a smaller, independent title, it might not get the community that other games have in terms of size so, you might not always have someone to play against or there are very few people. The game does not have a huge amount of hype and currently there are very few servers. (Especially since the game just went gold and next to no one has it - Ed) (Yet - Smap) (You're right. Hopefully, we can help change that. - Ed)
All in all, if you've got the thirty dollars and you want a fun distraction and something new to do, I'm would ultimately recommend Purge. It's a lot of fun - even with its flaws - but if you can overlook the lacking technical aspects of the game and concentrate on the fun gameplay, you will enjoy this title, although there are other places to throw your 30 dollars (once again, it's only thirty and for games today, this is mighty cheap for a full title) but if you have the means, than by all means, pick it up. It might be what TFC junkies need to hold them over until the big one arrives.
Lots of multiplayer fun, interesting RPG aspects, lots of replayability, only 30 bucks, low system requirements;
Looks and sounds like hell, Budget title, Weird Balance, Disorienting.
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