Hands-On: Nexuiz (Xbox Live Arcade)

Nexuiz  - 875201

Remember the classic days of the first-person shooter?  Back before kill streaks, head shots and multiplayer perks?  I’m talking about the golden days when all you needed to be entertained on a Friday night was a souped-up computer, a bottle of whatever you felt like drinking (soda, beer, whatever), and a few rounds of Unreal Tournament or Quake III Arena.  Well, if you do, you’re not alone, as the development team at Illfonic remembers those days as well.

The ten-person developer, who’s actually based right here in my home state of Colorado, has been working feverishly on a new shooter called Nexuiz (pronounced Nex-iss, and not Nex-eez like we’ve been accidentally doing), and it’s gotten the attention of THQ, who has stepped up to publish the game.  Now it’s set to be one of the four releases in Microsoft’s House Party promotion, set to kick off in the middle of next month.  To get ourselves better acquainted with what to expect, we decided to take it for a test drive.

Now, despite the fact that the game is dipped in retro flavor, we can honestly say that it’s as high-tech as any typical shooter these days.  It smoothly runs on the new CryEngine 3, developed by the fun-loving folks at Crytek.  It has no problem retaining its 60 frames per second speed as you run around each of the maps, both vertically and horizontally, taking in the futuristic sights while keeping enemies in targeting range.  The game is made up of different robotic and superhuman soldiers, who run around like crazy and use booster pads while continuously shooting their weapon of choice, be it a classic rocket launcher or the all powerful shotgun.  (And of course, it wouldn’t be an old-school shooter if you couldn’t accidentally stumble off the stage into an empty abyss.)

Just because the game has nostalgic value in its presentation doesn’t mean its gameplay is stuck in the past.  It’s got “twitch shooter” written all over it with its array of weapons and stylish kills (Teen-rated kills, but stylish none the less).  What’s more, Illfonic has managed to throw in some cool modifiers to keep each match interesting.  Known as mutators, these can be activated at any time once a player picks them up over the course of the match, either finding them randomly in a stage or achieving one as a reward for a kill streak.

What these mutators do mixes up what happens in the match almost instantaneously.  Some have an effect on enemy players, while others provide boosts for your team.  Then there are those that do something to everyone in the match, such as activating low gravity or turning on a color blind filter, so you can’t see who’s plainly on your team and who’s on the opposite team, save for what color they activate in your targeting sensor.  (But by then, it could be too late.)  There are over 100 of these available in the game with plenty of variety to offer, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for the better ones, including the one-shot instakills.  BLAM!

Though the final player count hasn’t been confirmed as of yet, it’s looking like Nexuiz will support up to eight players in a match at once.  Trying to floor it with more players would probably be overkill (literally), so that seems like a fine balance to us.  What’s more, you can keep track of your progress and help define your battle team better within just a few matches – the clear sign that you’re playing a solid first-person shooter.

Nexuiz

Nexuiz isn’t too far off from release, just about a month or so away on Xbox Live, and shortly thereafter on PlayStation Network and Steam.  If you’re someone longing for a throwback, first-person shooting experience, you should sign up without hesitation once this sucker releases.  Be sure to check back for the full review soon. 

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Robert Workman
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Games: Nexuiz

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