Review: Nexuiz

Undoubtedly the greatest arena-based first-person shooter since Quake III Arena way back in 1999, Nexuiz ditches the tired trend of the stagnant pond of multiplayer-only XBLA shooters and, instead, presents players with something completely different: incredibly fast-paced, beautifully smooth gameplay combined with a nearly unlimited number of randomly generated game-changing Dynamic Mutators – essentially power-ups – that can do as little as give your side unlimited ammo, but can also do as much as putting the match into debug mode, stripping the map to a white and grey field of ‘behind the scenes’ modelling structures, practically changing it into a completely different map altogether.

Granted, it may not sound like a lot on the surface, but in play it is insanely brilliant!

Who’s who? Who cares – it’s clobbering time!

It is, at heart, a multiplayer-only shooter (not counting the offline bot matches), mixed up only by the fact that it has something of a lore running through its veins comprised of, putting it frankly, a completely disposable cliché story of two waging alien forces that is just that – disposable and forgettable – and is only really there to add a misguided something to cutscenes between matches. It brings to mind Battlefield 3‘s campaign, or, more precisely, the question as to why in the heck it even existed in the first place in all of its entirely unnecessary shoved-in-ness, but, like Battlefield 3, does nothing to sour what Nexuiz has to offer. (Still draws questions of its justification, though…)

Matches begin with but one weapon, the humble shotgun, a particularly low damage, short-range firearm that subtly forces players to go on the hunt for more high-powered weaponry pick-ups should they wish to succeed at all. Only, will it be you who gets your hands on that coveted über assault rifle or will someone from the other team who got there first blast your head clean off with a Nex sniper rifle before you’re even able to get within smelling distance? It’s all about moments like this that make Nexuiz so damn exciting, and even after the hundredth time – dishing out and/or receiving – it’s still an absolute blast. The weapons are great, but where Nexuiz’s true genius (and boomtastic fun) lies is in its Dynamic Mutators – basically a series of randomly generated power-ups that offer all manner of game-changing effects for you, your team and even the entire roster that can be found strategically scattered about the maps. Combine these with some pretty devastating weaponry and Nexuiz is no doubt a shooter that separates itself from the crowd.

Sucks that it lacks a split-screen multiplayer option, but going head-to-head against an army of bots in a bot match? Friggin’ awesome! Easy, but friggin’ awesome!

Maps are big and varied, always offering a surprise

Perhaps the game’s only let-down, along with slightly problematic melee kills that have a tendency to feel a wee bit random, the lack of a free-for-all mode in Nexuiz is a particularly sad note indeed. I mean, you can only work with teammates for so long before you start wondering what their insides look like, and none moreso than in this game, a game that thrives on chaos but commits itself to ordered team-based games across two modes – Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag – with maps tailored to the respective modes to help keep everything nice and simple, but for those looking to spill alien blood from everything with a pulse in the game’s otherwise all-out techno brawl, many will be left disappointed.

And sure, it can be argued that some of the Mutators (particularly ‘Team Locator’) should have been built into the game as a default feature rather than as a power-up, but whether it be down to the mega fast-paced combat and/or the fact that you really shouldn’t be actively hunting for your teammates in the first place, it’s not all that much of an aggrievance. On the flip-side, however, ‘WTF’ Dynamic Mutators, unlocked through Achievements, are a friggin’ genius idea, and it’s so utterly bizarre how, despite having more Dynamic Mutators than actual weapons in the game, everything feels so, so exceptionally back-to-basics – something that we should all welcome with open arms.

Shield pick-ups will become your best friend on the techno battlefield

The round-up

Granted, it is all a lot to take in at first – and the game certainly doesn’t take any prisoners – but, given the fact that it is a game that anyone willing to invest in will no doubt want to commit to because of exactly what kind of game it is, there should be absolutely no problems learning the ropes and scattering shiny alien brains given the time in what is arguably 2012’s greatest shooter so far.

Inevitably a title that is fated to go completely under the radar – which is an absolute travesty, in my opinion – at least multiplayer-wise anyway, but then that is where the replayability value gains a whole lot more weight given the friggin’ excellent, well-executed bot combat. It’s just a shame that they have a tendency to go all retarded on you so regularly, but, thankfully, this doesn’t detract from the overall excellence of the play by a single iota, though a little more intensity and ferociousness to the otherwise target practice enemies would have made things a whole lot more interesting.

2012 saw the advent of a number of multiplayer-only shooters, but it is undoubtedly Nexuiz that stands tall amongst the otherwise mediocre stock.

8/10

 

Author: G H

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