I seem to have a thing for voxel games these days. Bad ones, especially. And with the ever-increasing Steam Indie Marketplace being filled to the brim with games that were cut from the same cloth as CastleMiner Z, I find myself wanting more and more to shoot myself in the face.
But, it’s 2015, new year, new me and all that, so I actually gave one a chance. Luckily I didn’t have to spend any money on it, or so I thought, but I installed a relatively new “Free To Play” game called Blockade, a fast-paced competitive multiplayer game that splices everything people liked about Ace of Spades and made it look really shit. I played it with a few friends and we all came to the general consensus that all of the eight hours we spent mindlessly droning on about how bad the game was really wasn’t all that worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not CastleMiner Z awful, it didn’t leave the same awful taste in my mouth, but it still left me dissatisfied with the £4 I spent on in-game purchases. Let’s start by talking about the UI, because that’s probably the worst part about the entire game. While being, for the most part, ugly and disorganised, from starting the game you’re greeted with a server list and a looping soundtrack that gets played every single time you leave to the menu, regardless of how many times you press the mute button.
Joining a server is relatively quick, which I’m pretty thankful for considering the amount of games I end up leaving because of the sheer incompetence of my team-mates 90% of the time. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve actually had the upper hand (no pun intended) on the opposite team, and all of those times were about 6 hours in when I came up with the bright idea to invest into the in-game purchases of a helmet which provides total immunity to headshots (something which can be hit stupidly easy.), body armour which doubled my health and a Steyr Aug which instantly boosted my K.D Ratio up to an astounding four every single match.
It’s very easy to pin this game down as a “Pay 2 Win” game, but even before I spent real money on a free video game and spent the rest of the night wondering how my priorities were ordered, I still had a really easy time getting kills. The starting sniper is an M1 Grand without a scope and without any sort of recoil or bullet mechanics to speak of, as long as your cursor goes anywhere across a face, pthft, headshots for days. This serves to be one of the best and worst parts of the games combat, and I got frustrated more than once when jumping into a game to find I was up against a full clan of Russians whose K.D outmatched mine by a leap through hell.
The maps are pretty good, though some give more than ample opportunity to spawn trap the opposing team, and a lot of the layouts serve to give one team advantage over the other. This is why we mainly played Battle Mode, 4v4 Teams of 8 trying to capture and control middle ground. This made for a hectic domination type of game mode where my team mates and I constantly built fortifications and structures to help fend off the other teams (or at least, the ones who weren’t building tunnels into our spawn and camping us.) from taking the objective. The tank mode is absolutely fucking deplorable and we spent a whole ten minutes in it, not much else to be said. There is a zombie mode but I get truly exhausted of playing that type of mode on any game after a minimum of five minutes.
Developer Shumkov Dmitriy has clearly put a lot of time into this game, and for a one man developer I can’t fault him on any major technical bugs that would take a whole team to fix. I personally enjoy voxel games as much as the next man, and if you’ve seen my review of Total Miner: Forge, you’ll know that I really have nothing against Minecraft “clones” since I value one of them higher than the game everyone seems to compare it to, and I won’t make the same comparison to this game either. It’s a harmless little piece of work that’s far too easy to manipulate to your advantage and has frustrating mechanics. It was fun for a while, and then it just became boring. And rage inducing.
But, hey, it’s free, small, and okay if you’re looking to kill a few hours. Just don’t expect to have all that much fun after those first few hours.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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