I wanted to mention the map system first as Zombie Studios have created a great solution to a handful of maps becoming very stale very quickly. There are 9 map layouts in total but are split over three sections which you vote on at the start of the match. You can vote on the mix of the maps in the sections which generate a combination of over 100 map layouts. While not every game will be different over time, it goes a very long way to solving the issue of maps becoming repetitive.
A montage of clips from the game
Up to twelve players can play which are split in to two to four teams depending on the match type. Team Death Match sees teams battle it out for the most kills. Hot Zone requires players to control an area for as long as possible. High Value Target is a tactical game in which one player is the target, this players team scores two points per kill so killing the HVT is a priority as the opposing team only scores one point per kill. Capture the Flag is self-explanatory and follows the standard rules of returning the flag to your area. Control Point is a conquest style mode which requires to you to keep control of three zones for as long as possible. The modes all play well, and fit with the maximum number of players and teams available.
The game mechanics rely on cover based shooting, standing out in the open will result in a swift death. The maps design are influenced by the cover system with plenty of crates, barriers and doorways to get behind and stay relatively safe. You are not immune behind cover, but you will be thankful for it. Zombie Studio have taken the option to show how much damage you inflict on an enemy as you attack them. It serves as a useful counter to estimate how much health a player has remaining if they are hunkered down behind something and wont budge. You have an attack dog which can be let loose who will either serve as a distraction or attack your opponent.
Team work is essential and if you find yourself in a thoughtful team, the results can be very fruitful. Seeing your team work closely together to attack and defend is great to experience and it feels like you are in combat. Not only that, an experience multiplier increases as you stay close to team members rewarding everyone with more experience. A bad team made up of lone wolves can be extremely frustrating as you find yourself stuck in cover with no help and little rewards!
Rank progression is a fairly lengthy affair with weapons, gear, skills and appearance unlocks spread throughout. There are over a dozen primary guns each with attachments you can choose to equip once unlocked, and five secondary weapons such as pistols and tactical knives. Gear includes the fun but occasionally dumb attack dogs who can get stuck on scenery or generally stand around pondering life, through to stun grenades and health and ammo drops. Skills not only affect yourself but also any team members in the immediate area and include increased speed, toughness and mine detection. There is a good variety of combinations and with planning and working as a team you can be a force to reckon with. Special weapons can also be found in-game via supply drops and lean to the humorous side with weapons such as a Chainsaw and Rocket Launcher.
There are a few issues with the game which can quickly rub you up the wrong way. The camera view is fixed off-center behind the right side of the player with no way to switch between left or right positioning manually. It can lead to some awkward camera angles especially when throwing grenades which behind cover can bounce off it and land beside you, great suicide! Lag does rear its ugly head and the host can have a major advantage against other players. I also experienced a few spawning issues such as spawning on the enemy side at the start of the game. Finally, the wait between games, over two minutes is far too long!
Issues aside, the game remains extremely fun and fast paced. The balance of weapons and cover system feels about right, there is nothing extremely overpowered providing you play as a team. Time will tell if the game remains popular, especially with the XBLA version, but I definitely recommend you play the game as it is one you should not miss!
Fast paced and fun over based shooting with plenty of unlocks and skills to work with as a team. A few issues do let the game down in some places.
Nice cell shaded graphics give the game a different feel to gritty looking games such as Gears of War
Good use of sound effects, guns sound the part. There was a few instances of sounds being stuck when played.