Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Nexuiz

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageHaving been on the radar for quite some time, Illfonic’s Nexuiz is finally available to download for Xbox 360 via the Xbox LIVE Arcade, and is coming soon to PlayStation 3 and PC. Having begun life as a community project based on a modified version of the QUAKE engine, the original launch of Nexuiz was as a groundbreaking free-to-play title. The popularity of the original Nexuiz lead to the interest from Illfonic, and with that all had changed: using the CryENGINE 3 as it’s basis, Nexuiz looks every bit the aggressive modern arena based first-person shooter (FPS) that it should to have a publisher such as THQ backing it’s launch.

The tale of Nexuiz is one of interstellar hatred, of two races not joined by a Romeo & Juliet warring of houses, but by a brutal galactic broadcast. What started as a feud developed into war, taking both the Kavussari and the Electronic Theatre ImageForsellians home planets in its wake. Such devastation forced the two races into a truce, but such hatred does not just get swept under the rug, and now they compete on the grand stage, a kill-or-be-killed league known as The Nexuiz Competition.

With that as the setting and a history involving the innovative QUAKE franchise, any serious gamer over the age of twenty five will surely be able to predict where we go from here. Nexuiz is a no-holds-barred, high-speed FPS in which every action has a repercussion. This is QUAKE III: Arena and Unreal Tournament just as they where twelve years ago, spit-polished and brought kicking-and-screaming onto modern hardware. There’s no place to hide, and nowhere to run: Nexuiz is all about the bigger guns and the better aim.

To bring players up-to-speed it’s an easy recommendation that they take part in the ably customisable bot matches first. Unless you’ve been playing arena shooters everyday since their heyday in 2000, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a good time jumping straight into online matches against human opponents without a little practice first. Electronic Theatre ImageThe bot matches provide all the same gameplay mechanics as when playing online, both in Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag mode, and allow players to adapt to the pace, weapon set and Mutators of Nexuiz.

The Mutators are arguably Nexuiz’s ace-in-the-hole, the reason to invest your Microsoft Points here as opposed to in the already available QUAKE Arena Arcade. Players have a series of Mutators available which affect the way matches are played, and can be activated mid-match. Simple additions such as decoys and team location alerts are placed alongside infinite ammo and health regeneration bonuses, and then again with more oddball additions such as the piñata mode, in which all kills result in a bounty of ammo and weaponry. Of course, Unreal Tournament has long been the frontrunner in the field of ruleset mutators, but here in Nexuiz it’s not just another option on the menu, it’s a mid-match tactical strike, and one that can turn the tide very quickly.

As with any modern FPS, Nexuiz isn’t just a case of one-off matches against unknown foes. There is a levelling system to work your way through – although it’s not labelled as such – in which you can upgrade Mutators and unlock new ones. It’s a simple and necessary addition, and does provide a reason to return to the battlefield with or without friends online.

Nexuiz features nine maps and a small number of character models, of which the player has been afforded no customisation options. A simple choice between light, medium or heavy armour is all that is provided, and this is merely a cosmetic decision with no bearing on in-game performance. The level design is clearly a product Electronic Theatre Imageof iteration, with many nooks and crannies to provide ample sniper spots without becoming unreachable to newcomers and open bowls for quick brawls. It’s not a sophisticated design, but then the rush-shooting brawls of Nexuiz could hardly be said to be a thinking-man’s videogame.

There’s no doubt that Nexuiz is an impressive modernisation of a decade old formula, and for many it’ll be a return to form for the FPS genre, having grown weary of the strive towards realism. That in itself is both the videogame’s greatest strength and it’s biggest weakness: for every gamer who is aching for something different, there’s ten more who just want another Call of Duty clone. The recent Xbox LIVE Arcade catalogue has effectively offered a design to placate each gamer’s tastes, Nexuiz for the long standing core gamer, and Gotham City Impostors for the Call of Duty era. Both are entertaining if flawed, and both have their unique position in the market.

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