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Warpath

Score: 62%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Groove Games
Developer: Digital Extremes
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 16 (Online)
Genre: Online/ First Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

With the introduction of the 360, it seems that most companies (Microsoft included) have abandoned ship when it comes to development for the original Xbox. While this quick jump was inevitable, it robbed the Xbox of that one last swansong before going the way of the PlayStation, N64 and countless other consoles. With that in mind, Digital Extremes has stepped up to the plate with Warpath, a game that they hope will give the system one last, great experience.

Visually, Warpath isnít a dazzler, nor does it look to push the Xboxís capabilities beyond what nearly every other mid-card FPS has. In some respects, the lack of graphical power is forgivable seeing as how the game is meant for online gameplay on a massive scale. At the same time, I still experienced more than a few framerate and lag issues Ė which in a way negates the argument. Environments are varied and are perhaps the best looking aspect of the entire package. Each of the three races has its own look and style, which is a plus. Personally I felt the designs were a tad generic, though again, this is strictly personal taste.

The audio aspect that really stands out is music, which while not exactly epic, does its job well. Other than that, youíre treated to a variety of typical battlefield sounds that lack any type impact and come off as weak.


Gameplay:

Though Warpath offers a single-player game, it is meant primarily as an online experience rather than a single-player one. So, if youíre not an online gamer or donít have a Live account, you should probably stop reading now.

The gameís initial setup places three opposing factions on a planet, each battling for control. The Ohm want to strip the resource-rich planet for everything they can, while the Kovos seek to protect the planet, which they see as a holy land. This leaves the Coalition stuck in the middle as they just want to settle down and make the planet home. Of course, you wonít get any of this background information in-game seeing as how there isnít much of a story to take you through the single-player game. Instead, you select hexes from a map and compete in a number of match types. So, while it makes for good practice, it doesnít offer a worthwhile experience.

One of the gameís key flaws is that very little effort is made to distinguish one faction from another. The only real difference is their appearance and weapons Ė but even here, most weapons have comparable counterparts. So, while a weapon may handle a little differently, I never felt like one group was better at one aspect while weak in another. What I did like was the weapon upgrade system, which allows you to upgrade your weapon on the fly after collecting upgrades on the battlefield. During battles, you also have access to three vehicles, though their presence doesnít add much to the game and frankly, the use of vehicles has been implemented better in other games.

On the multiplayer side, Warpath offers four match types with support for up to 16 players. Only one of the match types, Frontline Assault, really tries to break away from the standard FPS multiplayer offerings. The premise behind Frontline Assault is to capture your opponentís base while keeping your own safe. With a well-coordinated group, this can be a fun experience. Unfortunately, most games quickly became a case of too many chiefs and not enough Indians - assuming you can find a big enough game to participate in. Capture the Flag and Deathmatches round out the multiplayer modes.


Difficulty:

On the single-player side of things, the A.I. doesnít put up much of a fight. Sometimes enemies put in a valiant effort, but most of the time they will blindly charge into battles. Even your own allied A.I. is prone to bone-head mistakes, making Warpath feel like a one man battle. Online, difficulty will vary based on who else in the match.

Game Mechanics:

Whatever ground the A.I. gives up in providing a challenging experience is more than made up by controls. The setup isnít much different from other FPSs, but at the same time, it feels very sluggish and unresponsive. The simple art of aiming isnít as good as it should be and I wonít even go into the joy of trying to tool around in a vehicle.

If anything, Warpath is more potential and good intentions than a solid game. If anything, the Xbox will always be remembered as the system that gave birth to Xbox Live, which has become the benchmark for online gameplay (at least when it comes to consoles). So it makes sense that a game aiming to be the systemís last great hurrah would build on the online aspect. Sadly, the game never really comes together, which should deter most gamers from making Warpath a purchase, even at a low price.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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