|The trenches! IT'S A TRAP!|
While determining what pressies to get fellow Choicest Games contributor, Choona, another Choicest Games contributor, Luke, came up with the idea of purchasing a 4-pack of Running with Rifles as Choona is a big fan of co-operative games and this happened to be one of the better rated ones at 91% (Very Positive) out of 1,943 reviews on Steam. So I've dabbled with the game a couple of times so far and here are my early thoughts on it.
What I like:
- Kind of like a MOBA but not I'm not a big fan of MOBAs, maybe because there's too much expectation that you'll follow a certain build and because it's pretty competitive (which means you need to invest time into a game in order to be any good – not a good game when you don't have much time on your hands or too many other games to play). However, I'd be lying if I said Running with Rifles doesn't shares some similarities to MOBAS, mainly the mobs of AI controlled soldiers that are fighting a war with each other and you're (potentially) one of the super powerful heroes. I say "potentially" because you just start off as one of the grunts in this game and work your way up. Also the AI themselves can have "hero" characters too, so it's a bit different in that regard. Also, in Running with Rifles, like FPSs, your ability to aim a gun comes into play meaning that it requires a bit of hand-to-eye co-ordination unlike traditional MOBAs.
- Authentic weapons: No fictional names for the guns; all your AK-47s, M16A4s, PKMs and QBS-09 combat shotguns are here.
- The chaos of war: The game has a large number of soldiers fighting each other on the battlefield and firefights can become pretty hectic, especially when grenades and artillery start flying all over the place. It's really good at demonstrating the hectic nature of war.
- Ranking system that matters: I don't fully understand the ranking system yet but basically the higher rank you are, the more weapons and abilities you'll have access to. You even start receiving minions when you become a Staff Sergeant. The higher rank you are, the more responsibility you get. I like it – too bad the Battlefield games haven't adopted this formula (although Battlefield 2 was closest, especially the Project Reality mod).
What I don't like:
- Can be too confusing: While the chaos I suspect is reminiscent of real-life war, it can also become a bit confusing as to where the actual fronts are – especially since the map seems to be a rainbow of various icons. I suspect there's probably no better way of doing this but it would be good if there was.
- Hard to tell the height of terrain: The game is played from a top-down view similar to old run and gun games like The Chaos Engine. Consequently it can sometimes be quite hard to tell if you actually have line-of-sight with your weapon resulting in you firing several rounds into the crest of a hill but not actually resulting in you killing the enemy. Worse, you may empty a clip only to be ambushed by an enemy on your flank and it's game over (at least for that soldier).
- No end: To be fair, I've only played the co-op mode to this called "Invasion" I believe. Consequently I've only got this mode to judge by but it seems like the mode has no end. Last time I played the game I think I played for well over an hour and it was just a big tug-of-war with the opposing force, neither of us really grasping victory – although can you even do that? I don't know. If you can't, then I can see the games becoming rather unsatisfying and the game being more akin to a game like Subspace Continuum where you only pop in to get a few kills then jump out again.
- Experience system is grindy: As far as I can tell, killing the enemy awards you XP which level up your character. However, dying causes you to lose XP which means there's an extra element of grind. The good thing about this system though is it tends to reward promotions to those who are probably smart enough to stay alive before those who are gung-ho (like myself). Although technically someone acting as a sniper for the whole game would probably do well at being promoted as a consequence and I'm not sure if that's behaviour you actually want to encourage. It also means if you have a few bad rounds you can undo lots of work delaying your chances of ever being promoted and leaving you stuck with one basic assault rifle, machine gun or shotgun and not much else.
- Lip-service tutorial: The tutorial is really short and only covers some of the basic concepts in the game. It also doesn't inform you how to do things (you basically have to experiment). Consequently while I know how to move my character around, check the armoury for weapons, shoot, pick up items and use the radio, there's not much else I do know. You won't learn how to gain promotions and what abilities are linked to each of the promotions.