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Greed: Black Border

Score: 69%
ESRB: Not Yet Rated
Publisher: Meridian4
Developer: Clockstone
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 3
Genre: Action/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

The very first thought that comes to mind after playing Greed: Black Border is "textbook." This has both good, and unfortunately bad, connotations. A "Paint by the Numbers" painting can be quite beautiful, but you can always tell that it lacks a certain artistic and original quality. It really felt like they ran their fingers down a list of game mechanics and themes and said, "Ok, let's have that, and that, and that," without ever having a true unique vision for the game or story. They do not currently have an ESRB rating for the game, but it is listed as a 16+ game by PEGI. So, for parents, that would probably be similar to a Teen rated game by the ESRB.

The graphics are clean enough, but they remind me of the graphics you see in your standard fare of RTS games. The isometric layout furthers this feeling of Turn-Based or RTS game play. I was instantly taken back to games like Fallout 2 or even Diablo 2. This is a compliment to the feel and mood of the game, but not enough to push it to the forefront of gaming graphics. The lighting is dark and ominous, which is, of course, textbook for a dark themed title such as this.

Sound is one place where I use the term textbook in a good way. The sounds provide both the immersive quality and directional information you expect from audio in games. Simple but clear voiceovers also provide basic information and story for the game.


Greed: Black Border is an isometric 3rd person shooter billed as a "Hack and Slay." You don't really hack anything, but some things can be lost in translation. You assume the role of one of three classes to explore a world filled mostly with robots and zombies. The three classes you can choose from break down into short, middle and long range attacks. Each of the three classes will have unique skills to their professions of Fighter, Marine, and Engineer.

Moving around in the game is not entirely mouse-controlled, but for the most part is only done by the mouse. All of your major events like interaction, movement, and targeting are controlled by the mouse. You could use the W, A, S, D and combinations thereof to dodge, but this was just above useless. Your camera is not locked on to your character and your targeting reticle does not lock to your target. When you execute a dodge, your targeting reticle moves with the camera. This can make targeting a bit hairy when you're dodging, when taking obstacles into account, and your line of sight to your target, due to the isometric view. It usually means that your dodges end up putting you in a bad position to fire on your enemies. It was just plain easier not to dodge. But it is the only way to move during combat without taking your cursor off of the target.

There is a drift in the camera movement because the camera is not locked solely on your character, or the targeting reticle. When your reticle moves towards the edges of the screen, the view drifts slowly with it. This gave me a little bit of vertigo as I was exploring and moving around. By vertigo, I mean the kind that equals a reversal of lunch. I am an avid FPS player, so I understand what some call FPS sickness, which is a form of motion sickness you get when playing or more so watching games. I just don't want to get sick with something as simple as an isometric shooter.

There is an inventory system that will allow you to collect, use, and upgrade weapons and armor. You earn points from leveling and you can then spend those points to improve your characters attributes. I sometimes struggle with the claim that these alone are enough to add RPG elements to a shooter game, but I am going to let them have that one for the time being. You can gain and use skills which break down into active, passive-offensive, and passive-defensive. As I mentioned, each of the three classes have unique skills that make playing the classes a little more interesting.

You have the ability to play Co-op LAN or Internet games with friends. I could not find any servers to play a game on, and no one ever joined one I started. A total of three players can play at one time. It is a shame no one is on playing really, because I could see the ability to play co-op making this game kind of fun.


I do not like that the difficulty in Greed: Black Border comes solely in controlling your character. I was never very sure where they wanted the challenge in the game to come from. Exploration obstacles and some timing puzzles were not enough to claim that the challenge was to come from exploring the environment. Enemies were easily dealt with as long as you made sure your weapons and armor were up to date. You needed to remember to play your character to their strengths of being either a long, medium, or short range attacker. Other than that, you spent your time wrestling the controls that were never very sure if you wanted to move to a location, shoot at a location, or interact with something.

Game Mechanics:

When it comes to Greed: Black Border, I want to go into better detail why the word textbook continuously comes to mind. This is one of those situations where a game has all of the elements that a game should have, for the most part. Yet, it is just missing that quintessential piece that makes the game anything but ordinary. Each piece of the game was assembled correctly. You had the in-game tutorial at the beginning, but the issue there was that you had pop ups that would take over the middle of your screen while you were in combat. This would cause you to be killed one more time than you would ever want to be by information on the screen, which is a textbook mistake for games. You had the ominous and generic space zombies and killer service drones which were, again, these textbook enemies. You had some big bosses to fight, and you had some puzzle-like elements if you want to dig for them. You did have to find your way around some obstacles, so I will give them the puzzle element along with the RPG element. Everything seemed to be just checked off the list in the book of how to make a game. But, it is just that these pieces did not fit perfectly together well enough to make it a masterpiece of a game.

The movement scheme was unique to me. By unique, I mean I have no clue what they were thinking. You have many well-established control schemes for computer games. I would assume that in today's market, you may even want to think about the portability of your games to other platforms and hence different control schemes. Mouse-only movement may translate to a Wii or DSi game, but starting on the PC, you should be able to control your character easier. This was a big issue, and made it hard if not impossible to enjoy the rest of the elements of the game. Page 6 in the user manual is dedicated to trying to explain the movement system. I read and reread this page, only to be more confused and dumbfounded by the control scheme each time I read it. I know from travels that there is a casual game market that likes the idea of the mouse in one hand and a beverage or other vice of choice in the other. I just don't see players sitting in LAN Rooms lining up to play this title.

So the best way to enjoy this game, for me, would have to be to fly to a foreign land and find a place that serves my favorite beverage. Find someplace with a view. I could sit there in a LAN Café and say that at least I got to travel, and have my drink. The use of save points makes it less than casual and cumbersome to put down and pick back up again later. I really do not feel that I can talk my friends into picking this game up and playing with me. As this is just the beginning for a young studio, I liked the look of the game, but playing it fell short due to controls and what I can only assume was a fear of trying anything new with the games mechanics or play. Take some risks. Have fun. I look forward to trying more from them soon.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/Vista/7, 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 or Athlon 64 3600+, 1 GB (2 GB for Multiplayer), Graphics adapter supporting PixelShader 2.0 and 128 MB ram, at least GeForce 7600 or Radeon X series, DirectX(r): 9.0c, 2 GB of free space, DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Test System:

Dell XPS DXP061, XP Pro, Intel Core 2 Quad, 4GB Ram, Gforce 8800GTX

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated