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Next week one of the most ambitious games in recent memory is slated to launch on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The game, Defiance is a MMORPG that intertwines post apocalyptic adventuring, loot hunting, quests oh and it ties into a TV show airing on SYFY. The game has a lot of hurdles to jump and a lot of molds to break, luckily we've spent some time with the Beta of the game on the Xbox 360 and we can tell you what to expect and how Trion worlds has done with all the obstacles.
Lets start of by getting important things out-of-the-way, this is not a full game review, this is my impression of the Beta for the Xbox 360. The Beta version is over a month old and a lot of the hiccups and glitches within the Beta have either been resolved or will be patched. The Beta is more an opportunity for Trion to get their servers and back-end set up in order to make sure the launch goes smoothly especially with so much riding on a successful launch.
I've been monitoring the progress of this game for quite some time, from the initial announcement with potential cross-platform play, through its evolution to platform independent versions. The idea of a game that took everything I loved about Fallout, mixed it with Borderlands, and added in some WoW in an evolving world that tied into a TV show, just seemed to outrageous and promising to be true. When the opportunity to try the Beta was announced I did everything I could to make sure I had a chance to get into the Defiance universe. Even though it is only a Beta there is so much in the game to already be excited about, but there are also potential pitfalls that might sink this project long before SYFY decides how many seasons the show may or may not last.
The game greats you with a cut scene to throw you right into the Defiance universe, introducing you to characters from the upcoming show. You have to customize your character, which at this point isn't very robust. You can choose a male or female from two races, then select one of four classes and then do some minor customization to the appearance. Once you're done customizing you jump right into the game, with mini tutorials on how everything works. After getting started in the game you are greeted with a world that feels familiar if you've played Fallout or payed attention to the idea of any post-apocalyptic imaginings of the world. There are slightly reminiscent land marks that look like they could have been a memorable structure before what ever happened, happend.
The visuals are in line with Fallout, but this game isn't trying to make it on impressive visuals and effects, it is trying to make it on story and gameplay. People will get hung up on the idea that since the visuals within the Beta aren't bleeding edge that the game is going to be bad, first off it's a Beta so we don't know exactly what the final graphics will look like. Secondly graphics aren't the only thing that makes a great game.
The world is large and impressive, even in the Beta where you're only exposed to a portion of it, you still feel the magnitude of what this game has to offer. You also know that this game has the potential of taking a lot of your time, the hope is that it can live up to the potential and promise that it has. The story and game allow you to move at your own pace, and explore you want. You can either follow the story line directly and not veer off, or randomly interact with the world and the things that are happening then go back to the main story quests. It offers players of different styles ways to enjoy the game and play the way you want to.
The game does a good job of introducing users to the world of Defiance and getting you accustomed to the gameplay. You're guided along with your EGO implant that shows you the ropes, guides you to story points and keeps you in contact with the world around you. Think of it as a cross between PIP-Boy and Eve from Mass Effect 3, she is a familiar voice that helps you through out your game.
Loot is another factor in this game, and similar to Borderlands you can end up scouring the world for better weapons and gear. This can be a blessing and a curse, you can either make it an enhancement of your game or a compulsion that drives you insane. At this point in the game, it feels that the loot is sparse and hopefully that's just because nothing found in the beta actually carries over so why waste showing people good stuff?
The gameplay mechanics are solid and you can tell that the development team really thought about how much they had to do to make the game feel good on consoles. It isn't a port from PC that never feels right, it feels like a console game should.
Very reminiscent of Fallout 3 but online multi-player through the roof. It really does a great job combining great features from other games and making it feel cohesive and thought out.
The story is intriguing and even in the Beta there are a lot of well thought out elements. The full game should really take that even farther especially with the T.V. show tie in.
The game isn't as intimate as some of its competitors (Fallout, Mass Effect, BioShock) and there is no real "single player" mode, everything happens in the online world, so if you're not connected to the net, you're out of luck.
There is a lot of space in the world and traveling from area to area and mission to mission can get tiresome. Vehicles help, but you can easily get sidetracked by submissions or just get lost.
Since it's a Beta there are hiccups, problems with sound effect timing, specifically voice overs during combat, but hopefully this will be resolved in the final release.
Communicating with other players is difficult, voice chat isn't enabled by default to save your ears from 500 people talking all at once, but joining up with random travelers or communicating during an Arkfall really should be easier than it is.
Right now there is a LOT of lag, this is the point of the Beta to work out the kinks in the server system, but at times it is just crazy. For a game that needs to be played online this needs to be fixed.
Unique story and potential are the big drivers here. The game is going to survive with people joining their friends and experiencing the story. There isn't one thing that this game does that makes you go "wow I've never seen this before" or "This game does (insert anything here) better than any other game", it combines features from other games fluidly and builds on them.
The potential for this game is huge, there are so many things that can happen and the sky really is the limit. If the character customization is beefed up in the final game, and the weapon customization and loot system are enhanced the game will feel a lot more whole.
If you love adventure games, and you're a fan of post-apocalyptic worlds that offer a huge variety of gameplay, you have to get this game. I honestly can't wait to get the final version of the game and really explore and build a group of people to play with.
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