Crytek, the developer of Far Cry and Crysis, has taken console gaming’s initial plunge into free-to-play first-person shooters with the Xbox 360’s Warface, and they’ve done so with mixed results. The controls are good, the graphics are appeasing and the game’s foundation is solid, but the experience is burdened by the generic nature of the gameplay and level design, and the lack of any real innovation.
With Warface, Crytek clearly earns a round of applause for making a fully accessible, modern-looking multiplayer first-person shooter that can be played completely free. In this regard, Warface is a groundbreaking title. This achievement is likely to be underplayed among the gaming community and gaming journalists (in no small part due to its generic nature), but it likely marks the start of such games becoming rather prevalent among consoles.
In Warface, purchasing extra items such as guns, bullet-proof vests and boxes with random gear/weapons requires you to either pay a certain amount of in-game cash – earned through playing matches – or a certain amount of Kredits, which are purchased with real-life money. Kredit packs start at 400 for $4.99. Two of the early guns you can purchase cost 390 and 490 Kredits, with some of the later guns costing around 1,000. Given that a pack of 840 Kredits is $9.99, a single gun in the game can cost $12 or more, which is a rather absurd price.
Warface does deserve strong accolades for its current plan to add new co-op missions daily and new competitive maps regularly at no additional charge. With these additions planned to be free, upgrading gear at a considerably faster rate will be the sole purpose of Kredits.
The gameplay of Warface will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has played first-person shooters before, especially Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as Warface mimics its control scheme almost precisely. The left trigger aims, and the right fires; B crouches, and A jumps; pressing the left-stick sprints, and pressing the right bumper tosses a grenade. Pressing the right-stick does a melee attack. Overall, the controls leave little to complain about and will make most gamers feel right at home.
Competitive matches (up to eight players per team) are fast-paced and fierce, with death coming easily, and for most people, often. If you don’t have a large amount of recent experience playing games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare and Battlefield, you’re likely to die a lot. Even as you get better, death will come regularly, with focus being the key to survival.
For those who have played a decent amount of first-person shooters, the game will immediately stand out as particularly generic and uninventive. You start the game by picking your class (Rifleman, Sniper, Medic or Engineer), and then you choose from one of three multiplayer modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch or “Plant the Bomb,” which is where you rotate between attempting to plant a bomb in your enemy bases and defending your own team’s bases. None of these classes or modes are particularly interesting, nor do they offer anything different from the standard shooter. In Crytek’s defense, being in beta means these modes and classes could change substantially, but in their current form, they do little to improve upon the core action.
Currently, there are only a few levels to choose from, but additional levels are planned to be added soon. Of the levels that are available, they are, to be frank, boring. The first few play-throughs of each map are enjoyable enough, and the setup is decent for a multiplayer match, but beyond that, there’s nothing that makes them stand out as interesting, and they quickly become rather tedious to play.
Those who don’t have a lot of experience with multiplayer first-person shooters are likely to get the most out of Warface; although it does little to stand apart from games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare, it handles the core gameplay of these titles surprisingly well for a free-to-play title, which could entice some gamers who aren’t as familiar with the genre.
Warface’s cooperative mode suffers from the same fate as the competitive mode; it’s relatively fun and technically sound, but it’s also incredibly generic and often times, quite dull. Enemy AI is unimpressive; the levels lack excitement, and the story that attempts to justify the action does nothing to improve the player’s overall enjoyment.
Warface boasts impressive graphics for a free-to-play game. Though it’s not likely to wow many regular gamers, it’s also not likely to draw much criticism. Some aspects of the environment, such as water from certain angles, look considerably good. The quality of the game’s physics and character models are average, though nothing more. The sound quality is decent.
Overall, Warface, the first free-to-play console first-person shooter, is a mixed bag. The game controls well, looks good and is relatively enjoyable. However, the gameplay and level designs are generic, the game is entirely lacking in innovation and the game’s model of purchasing extras, where it can cost over ten real-life dollars for a single gun, is rather outlandish. Given the game is in beta it will grow and improve over time, but the core gameplay will do little to excite gamers who have any degree of experience with first-person shooters. Those new to the genre may find a lot to like.