Monday, October 22, 2012

Ravaged video review

Coming fresh off of a successful Kickstarter buffer, Ravaged is the brainchild of indie studio 2 Dawn Games, which is comprised of such industry veterans as Joe Halper. Hoping to distinguish itself from the games it drew heavy inspiration from, it's clear Ravaged contains some truly ambitious and competitive design. Blending the notable open-field combat of Battlefield with the post-apocalyptic environments and vehicles of Mad Max, the world of Ravaged will welcome you openly... with a respawn. Great as it sounds on paper, Ravaged is a ramshackle, stripped-down version of those games that helped inspire it.

Ravaged video review

As it's come to be known, Battlefield-inspired games aren't critically acclaimed for the story they provide - if they provide any at all. Ravaged builds off that same philosophy (ala Brink) and opts to take the multiplayer-only route. Yielding two factions, the Resistance and the Scavengers, all you know is that the two sides don't like each other and really, that's all you need to know. After all, we aren't here for a mediocre story; we're here for complete and utter online domination.

The two modes in Ravaged are Resource Control and Thrust. Resource Control relies on capturing your enemy's gas can and bringing it back to your base a number of times. Thrust is focused on capturing points and holding on to them to ensure victory. Both of these modes are pretty standard for a game like Ravaged and it's very disappointing there aren't more. For a game that takes its cues so heavily from Battlefield, why isn't there even a standard deathmatch-type mode? There's no attack and defend scenarios or vehicle focused game-types either. This post-apocalyptic world we're playing in begs for more creativity, but above all else, some imagination.

Behold! The post-apocalyptic dune-buggy!

Imagine playing against a group of scavengers that have to assault a resistance base for supplies, in a tiered Unreal Tournament-esque mode that'll switch sides upon victory or defeat. Doesn't that sound more enticing than capture the gas can? With some more imagination, I can see potential within Ravaged, but sadly there just isn't anything present beyond the two typical, expected modes. Substituting a gas can for a flag is a poor excuse for creativity. C'mon now.

What's worse is that both game modes suffer from some bad design choices. When capturing a point, the area you're contesting (capturing) still allows the enemy team to spawn in on that point. In one particular scenario, while capturing a point I killed a single defender. To my surprise, a few seconds later he spawns directly in front of me, halting the capture and I gun him down again. Five or so seconds go by and the same guy spawns in AGAIN, kills me and I go spiraling back to my faraway base. These kind of design decisions can make or break a game and clearly, this is a 'break' situation.

The Stryker can be a pain to deal with.

You won't be surprised by the class choices in Ravaged either. Presenting the typical setup, (soldier, scout, sniper, demolitions and support) each one plays exactly how you think, but with utterly anemic customization. Take, for instance, the soldier; he can swap out a couple of rifles and the only thing that's different about them is the scope/sights. There's no statistics on anything, no extra skins to unlock, no perks, no gun-mods, outfits, there's absolutely nothing beyond what you're presented with. Ever.

Usually there are some absurdities in a game, but Ravaged seems to have more than are acceptable. First off, the vehicle handling sub-par and in a game riddled with vehicles, that's not a good idea. 2 Dawn stated that vehicle handling is difficult and is an intentional design decision to reward skilled players who take the time to learn. This is understandable, proving successful via the Battlefield series, but Battlefield's vehicles offer far better variety and a reason why getting good with something will give your team an advantage. No one is going to become a god of the post-apocalyptic dune-buggy and provide that kind of advantage in Ravaged. Not everything is going to feel like Halo's Warthog (and shouldn't) but all I'll say is that these proven controls are established for a reason.

The helicopter, by nature, is the toughest to pilot, and this brings up another point that, once again, vastly differentiates Battlefield from Ravaged. It's the one vehicle in this game that everyone sprints to (and everybody sucks at), denying any kind of chance for a good pilot to get their hands on the sticks. Battlefield combats this vehicle-whoring by giving players who are better different abilities that a novice wouldn't have. Ravaged does nothing equivalent, which helps devolve this part of the game into the standard 'THE TORQUE BOW IS MINE' approach commonly found in Gears of War.

At least the visuals are fantastic.

I'd say that anyone could learn to pilot the helicopter in a private game with their friends, but as of this writing, you can't create your own games. You heard me right. Instead, you're forced to join pre-set servers with limited slots. There also isn't an active ability to choose what map you'd like to play and that's too bad because the visuals in Ravaged are excellent. The fact of the matter is that regardless of when they're going to patch-in and/or fix the issues, the game didn't ship with these functions. Like Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat and Dark Souls before it, if you ship a game with broken components, a simple promise that 'fixes are coming' isn't good enough to let something like this slide.

Normally, the wonderful thing about video games is that they evolve with technology and time. Ravaged is trapped in 90's-esque design with design elements that aren't excusable for contemporary games in this genre. Tank shells, missiles, bullets, they all pale in comparison to the great impenetrable wall that is the cloth tent. Satire aside, I found myself ducking for cover behind tents and small posts to avoid an untimely death by way of rocket or Stryker tank. It gets even more frustrating when you're flooring it in your post-apocalyptic dune-buggy only to be stopped dead by some rickety wooden planks in the road. These kinds of issues would have been acceptable in the 90's but they sure as hell aren't now.

So close, yet so far away...

I think the worst part about Ravaged is that there's nothing different about it; that and the fact that there's no reason to keep playing. Some gamers may complain about in-game progression via unlockables, ranks, gun-mods, skins, etc, but you don't realize how great a game feels when they're implemented in an intelligent way, and that goes for any genre. Ravaged doesn't give you anything besides a bland leaderboard, derivative gameplay and a $25 price tag, and expects that to be acceptable. With absolutely nothing bringing you back into the game time and time again, it begs to ask the question: What game is Ravaged taking you away from?

Ravaged has solid ideas within a great looking game, but it's composed of a barren wasteland of content. If all you wanted was a smaller-scale multiplayer shooter by way of Battlefield, do yourself a favor and pick up 2009's Battlefield 1943 for 1200 Microsoft Moon Dollars or $9.99 on the PSN. The $25 you saved by not buying Ravaged will thank you.

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  1. "For a game that takes its cues so heavily from Battlefield, why isn't there even a standard deathmatch-type mode?"

    Battlefield isn't known for its Deathmatch mode...but its Conquest mode.

  2. You took that a little too literal. Battlefield games are known to have a nice variety of different game modes, including ones where kills are the objective. While it's not exactly labeled 'TEAM DEATHMATCH ARRRRRGHHH' that's why I said 'deathmatch-type' modes.

  3. There are many good things in Ravaged Game like Gorgeous visuals from top to bottom and Lots of violent vehicles to drive and kill with.