By: Alex Hitchen
Nexon recently put their newest first person shooter Dirty Bomb into open beta, a fast paced team focused objective pushing MMOFPS in a near future mysterious disaster that has left London abandoned and a new battleground. The game allows players to choose from different characters, each with their own abilities and skills and actively promotes team play, assisting and “not being a dick” (their words, not ours). After a more extensive play through of the game we got to grips with various characters, tried out all the maps and overall we have to say got a pretty good first impression of the game.
Starting out the game throws you straight into an intro vid that is in place of an opening cinematic, it gives you the scoop on how to play the game, how objectives work, promotes team play and assisting your fellow teammates, and numerous times tells players to “Not be a dick”, which emphasizes the tongue in cheek humour the developers are putting into the game. From here you are asked if you want to go through the tutorial, which whilst it doesn’t have any hugely different mechanics to a lot of other MMOFPS games (first aiding downed team mates, deactivating bombs, tampering with environments, etc.) it’s actually one of the best tutorials we’ve ever played and is worth checking out just to see how well it is incorporated.
So onto the game. Each game map has its own specific objectives, three of them in fact, with an attacking team and a defending team both of which have competing “Don’t let them…” objectives obviously that must be completed before the maps time limit ends. When a map objective is complete, for example on the Chapel map the first objective is to repair the needed Extraction Vehicle, a new objective triggers, in this case to Escort the EV to the Construction Lift, then finally pick up EMP Charges and deliver them to a building to detonate them. When each objective is complete the attacking teams spawn point moves to the new location, so it is an endless push down the map with the defenders trying to hold them back.
The maps are fun, with their own little twists and features it’s easy to tell that a lot of time has been spent on the world/level design allowing for some nice open firefights or some close quarters combat where a well-placed knife can end a fight quickly. Complimented by the pretty great graphics the fast combat looks amazing and the pace, look, sounds and objectives are really immersive and at times frantic, albeit realistically the objectives on each map are relatively the same just reworded slightly (pick up Data Cores, Drugs or EMP Charges, or escorting a Truck or EV), but it’s still extremely fun.
The general feel of Dirty Bomb really gave us a Team Fortress 2 feel, which is a huge compliment, especially when paired up with the different characters that you could play as. Similar to a MOBA there is a wide roster of characters available that you must purchase to unlock, either with cash or in game gold, however, each week different Characters go on rotation letting players try before they buy. Available to us were Skyhammer, a minigun wielding tank man beast that could throw down ammo packs, call in air strikes and do a pretty good job clearing a room, Bushwhacker who could drop turrets and quickly disarm C4, Vassili who was a typical sniper that could also use heartbeat grenades to show on the map which enemies were around and finally Aura who could use her defibs to quickly bring fallen players back into battle or drop down healing stations for the team. You can see just how different the characters are, one of the great things about the games is that you got to take three of your available characters into battle, each time you die you can choose to jump in with a different character to push a specific objective or help in a certain situation, then switch back.
As far as the characters go we stuck with Bushwhacker and Aura a lot, always preferring the support roles, it was good to see our efforts helping push an assault, but we were also pretty vulnerable when it came to taking hits with no major defenses. One of the cool things about getting killed (though not dying in the first place is always preferable) is that whilst there’s no playback you have a frozen shot of your character as they got killed and a bullet tracer showing where the shot came from, helpful for pointing it out to the team and really prevents camping.
The developers have gone down an interesting route when it comes to gear, instead of being able to customize your individual items players instead unlock loadout cards, specific cards which give you new items and also boosts that can be assigned to a specific character. Loudout Cards are earned from completing games or purchased from booster packs, giving players a random card depending on the quality of the booster pack they bought, and can range from 8 different qualities that will also change the skin of your character. We’re not a huge fan of the system, always preferring customization on weapons, but it’s a quick and simple process that doesn’t require too much thought, though there isn’t much of a pay to win advantage as you can acquire Loadouts from playing the game and the chance is always random on what you get.
Each game can take around 15 minutes in standard “Objective” mode, whereas “Stopwatch” mode is essentially the same but after a game the teams switch sides and their role as attacker or defender. There’s also a Bomb Plant style “Execution” mode, which is quite a extensive 10 rounds of battle to win where players can kill all the other team or destroy an area using C4. The match lengths are fairly short, but as the objective changes it doesn’t feel like a constant slog, similarly with the ability to switch between three characters combat stay quite fresh and extremely fun and it’s quite easy for a team to make a dramatic comeback as we saw multiple times (both on the giving and receiving end).
Whilst we’re not huge fans of the loadout system, the overall gameplay and pace of combat is really well done, the characters offer a wide variety of strategy, particularly when players work with each other, and a good team can really dominate. The graphics are great and the sound and overall setting and theme is well done; with the continued addition of new maps and characters we can definitely see Dirty Bomb being a pretty big success as whilst it doesn’t completely redefine the genre it’s done a really great job of avoiding some of the pitfalls of many of the horrible MMOFPS games whose company they unfortunately have to keep. Combat requires skill and teamwork and is rarely a case of being killed the moment you face another player, which so many other MMOFPSs do where they feel “dying a lot” makes a game “fast paced and action packed”.
By: Alex Hitchen
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 7
- Performance: 6
- Pros: Lots of characters to choose from, clear objective focused games, fun level designs.
- Cons: Loadout system is a little too random and lacks the type of in depth customization we like.
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