Ooh, Nexuiz on the Xbox LIVE Arcade will feature as the third title in the Xbox LIVE House Party promotions this week when it releases on Wednesday 29th February, but we have a distinct feeling that this title from THQ will be like marmite, you’re either going to really like it, or absolutely hate it – but since the FPS genre has been more recently dominated by Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield, you might have forgotten what old-school shooters were all about!
Nexuiz was originally a 2005 PC title available for free and heavily based on the popular Quake games, but it was first announced as an Xbox LIVE Arcade digital download in 2010 when Crytek confirmed that they had licensed the Cryengine 3 for Nexuiz under development by Illfonic. This is not a direct port of the PC game for the current-gen console, instead a new modernised game with futuristic worlds, but keeping the same fast-paced-old-school action. Illfonic has created the best first-person-shooter that money can buy for just a mere 800 MS Points, but at first you might not realise it.
Whilst there is not a single player campaign in sight as Nexuiz is primarily suited for gamers who like online matches – it does feature bots instead for an offline session (or to be used as training), and includes a brief back story into the games characters to get you into the mind-set of why you are in a raging battle in the first place. You play on either the side of the Kavussari or the Forsellians who have been at war for centuries, but as part of a truce the Warriors now battle for entertainment purposes in arena’s – a spectacle known as the Nexuiz Competition which is broadcast throughout the galaxy. Before each arena loads you are also given a little history lesson on why it is chosen for fighting purposes.
All arena battles consist of 4 vs 4 player games of either Team Death Match or Capture the Flag across a range of nine different maps – all heavily detailed with futuristic war torn scenery that could give the Halo design team a run for their money. In Team Death Match, the first team to reach a designated Kill Limit are declared the Winners – or failing that, those with the most kills when the timer runs out if the Kill Limit has not been achieved. Capture the Flag on the other hand requires the enemy flag to be captured and returned back to your own team’s base so if you like camping in corners as part of defence, this mode is for you…
Rather than just let gamers out on the loose with a gun, Nexuiz adds a bit of variety to each match with in-game Dynamic Mutators that alter the gameplay rules a little for a set period of time. Think of it as the FPS equivalent of Mario Kart Power Ups and how you obtain them and what you can do with them vary. Some Dynamic Mutators are pick-ups within the battle arena environments and others are achieved by performing objectives – a great killing spree or the capture of a flag will net you a nice notification reward where you can then choose your desired Mutator. There are over one hundred Dynamic Mutators all in all and broken down into four different types; those which affect every player in the game, some that just reward yourself, those that only affect your own team as a whole and finally others that only apply to the enemy team – there’s even a Modern Warfare 2-esque Nuke! The trailer shown below is a great gameplay video detailing their uses.
Going back to the old-school theme, the game doesn’t allow you to create your own ideal character and choose from a wide range of weapons, but you do get to choose your character weight from light to heavy, preferred starting team and if you want Private or Public Matches. All players start initially with a shot gun weapon and others are spread out within the environments as pick-ups ranging from futuristic energy-cell Elecro Guns, Mortars, Clan Cutters with fast bullets of damaging energy and even Rocket Launchers! There are around ten different weapon types which have both Primary and Secondary functions that alter its uses, and those aren’t the only pick-ups to make you a better player within the match. As well as Weapons and Dynamic Mutators, you have both Armor and Strength items to make you stronger and deal twice the damage. All pick-ups are there for both teams, but if you’re not quick enough to get the weapon you want or enough Armor enhancements you could end up losing the battle!
Visually as an Xbox LIVE Arcade first person shooter you can’t really expect the same high visual quality as you would from a retail disc, but this is almost up there on the graphical side for the environments. All the maps are large futuristic worlds, but because the gameplay is so very fast you might not get a chance to see every crook and cranny; however the detail in the backdrops of every map is quite simply stunning – and for 800 MS Points you do get nine outstanding maps. Unfortunately the amount of game types is a little lacking having only the two, so more objective based game types would have been a nice bonus – if there had been a campaign – hell, we’d have thought it was Christmas!
The controls are easy to master as with the familiarity of almost all shooters using the same buttons for the same task, you can even perform a decent tea-bag, but going back to the fast paced gameplay – it’s so, so fast it will surprise people, although not really in a positive way. We’re all too used to trekking around large scale maps with our soldiers on foot in other games, but unless you have experienced the same fast paced action on the Nexuiz PC game, you’re going to wonder why it plays this fast moving in the first place and that is because it stays true to the original only in that aspect. I wish it didn’t, as it feels like the characters have rockets up their backside, but you do get used to it – eventually. To enjoy Nexuiz you have to be a little more open minded, remember the old-school days of first person shooters and be adaptable to the gameplay. It is recommended that you download the trial and play a few games to see if this is for you as it will not be to everyone’s liking.
For 800 MS Points, you get two great popular game types found in most other retail shooters and nine great detailed maps with a mass of Mutators and pick-ups to make every match different – so there isn’t a lot to complain about, but If there were more objective game types and the character movement a little slower it would feel just a bit more enjoyable.
It’s a great game with room for improvement, but for just 800 MS Points it also doubles as a bargain as once you’ve adapted to the fast paced action you might find this hard to put down.