Developer: 2 Dawn Games
Publisher: 2 Dawn Games
Available on: Windows PC only
I have a love/hate relationship with Kickstarter campaigns. On the one hand there’s always a voice at the back of my head that tells me that if the design of the game was good enough, then it would find a way to be made without begging the community for help. The more dominant side of my brain tells me that it’s an amazing way for games that would usually go unseen and unmade to see the light of day. Sometimes those games are ones that wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but there are times when a game comes out that fits in perfectly with the current gaming climate, a game that would feel right at home on the shelf of any retail store along with any other AAA release. Ravaged, developed by 2 Dawn Games, is one such Kickstarter campaign, a multiplayer vehicular First Person Shooter that sets you loose in a post apocalyptic world to see how much damage you can do. Is it a game that people will be happy that they put their own money on?
STORY: Ravaged takes place in a post-apocalyptic future earth where (according to the game’s official website) the planet has been destroyed by solar flares from the sun. This fact isn’t really conveyed through the game, although once you know what’s happened, the signs are obvious. Massive climate changes such as the desert encroaching upon New York City and the centre of Paris being turned into what looks like the newest polar ice cap. Players don’t really needs to know about the story of the game world though, it’s not important in order to be able to play the game and with no single player portion as long as you do what you’re told at the start of each of the levels then you won’t go far wrong.
GRAPHICS: Ravaged makes good use of the ageing Unreal Engine 3 from Epic. The environments are all well designed and look quite good as you’re running around them attempting to take pot shots at the enemy. There’s nothing quite like running up a downed Statue of Liberty as a sniper, taking a position at the top and taking down a couple of Scavengers or Resistance fighters (depending on which side you’ve been assigned/chosen). The major downside with the visuals, and the use of the Unreal Engine, is that you’ll often see the world’s assets load in at the start of each match. It’s not really a big deal, by the time you actually start the game everything will be loaded and it’ll all be fine, but it never gets any less visually displeasing to see an empty game world when the match first loads.
There’s also the sense that the world is too big. The developers have attempted to alleviate this problem by providing vehicle in the spawn points, however, if you’re half way between one point and another, and come off of your vehicle due to the less than stellar vehicular controls, then you’re going to be doing a lot of walking or running which can get old very quickly.
SOUND: The sound design in Ravaged serves its purpose but it’s nothing particularly special. All of the weapons that you’ll be able to use (which vary greatly depending on which character class you’ve chosen) sound quite good. The vehicles too, one of the major selling points when it come to Ravaged, sound especially good. Whether you’ve picked a standard All-Terrain Vehicle, or one of the rare massive tanks that are on a couple of the levels, most players won’t be disappointed with how impressive they sound rolling up on their enemy’s capture points. When it comes to a FPS title, it’s important to be able to hear your enemies trying to sneak up on you and Ravaged does a good job at that too. If you’ve got a decent set of headphones on while you’re playing the game, you’ll be able to hear which direction they’re coming from and act accordingly; if you’re fast enough that is.
GAMEPLAY: At its core, the gameplay in Ravaged centres around capturing and controlling points on the map. However, the gameplay changes slightly depending on which game mode you’re currently playing. The ‘Thrust’ gameplay mode tasks the players with capturing each of the spawn points in sequence, pushing your way towards the enemies base and attempting to hold it in your possession for a full minute. Failing that, if you can’t control your enemy’s spawn points, the other way to win the ‘Thrust’ gameplay mode is to have control of the most spawn points when the session timer counts down to zero. It’s surprising how quickly a control points can change hands too, so don’t go getting complacent just because you control four of the spawn points, things could change within the next minute or so if you’re not paying attention; I speak from experience.
The second and final game mode is ‘Capture the Resource’. In this game mode you’re tasked with capturing fuel and bringing it back to your own base. You can still capture a spawn point, as you can in ‘Thrust’, but this no longer gives you points and only allows you to spawn closer to the fuel should you be killed in action, which you will be; many times. The team that brings back the most resources by the time the match is over will be crowned the victor. Obviously each player will be ranked within their own team, based on the resources they collected in ‘Capture the Resource’, or indeed how many spawn points they rescued/captured in ‘Thrust’, but when it all comes down to it, Ravaged is a team game and if you’re not playing as part of a team, with all the tactics that come along with that, then you’re not playing the game properly and you don’t deserve to win.
The rest of the game plays exactly as you would expect from any other FPS that you may have played. Depending on which class you choose (from a choice of five on each team) you will have a selection of weapons as your disposal which usually comprise of a main weapon, a support weapon, a grenade and a melee weapon. Most of the weapons are relatively similar to each other, so the only weapon that you have to worry about is the main weapon. As is usual from First Person Shooters (especially multiplayer ones), once you’ve found a class that you enjoy playing as, you probably won’t change all too often, especially considering that there’s no perk or levelling system in place to keep you swapping to different characters in order to level them up.
The other main aspect of the gameplay, and the main selling point of the game, are the vehicles. Unfortunately these only really serve as a method of getting across the map quickly to the spawn points that may be being taken by the enemy. The keyboard and mouse that players are going to want to use to play the shooting sections of the game aren’t really suited to driving vehicle, so the vehicle controls feel clunky, laggy and not very well implemented. The game supports the use of a controller, which feels much better when it comes to controlling the vehicles, but this makes the first person areas of the game more difficult to control. It really is a catch 22 and it’s up to each player to determine which is more comfortable to them. At least the option is there though, and options are always a good thing.
LONGEVITY: As a multiplayer game, the longevity of Ravaged relies entirely on how long each individual player wants to spend with it. That being said, it’s a fun game to play, and the modes that you’re able to play are similar enough to other game modes that you’ve played in other games, while being different enough to keep your attention. Hopefully 2 Dawn Games add a couple of other modes in the near future though, because people aren’t going to be content with just two game modes for too long. 2 Dawn Games have made the intelligent decision of released a free demo of the game, too, and while this isn’t too surprising in itself, they have also allowed the demo players to play along side the owners of the full version of the game. This means that there’s a greater chance of there actually being people to play with at any given time. A multiplayer game lives and dies on whether there are people in the servers and this is certainly one way of helping ensure that that’s the case.
VERDICT: Everybody who pledged money to make Ravaged a reality should be proud of themselves, they backed a game that is quite a lot of fun to play. Ravaged is similar enough to other games in the genre to get people in the door, but just about different enough to keep those same people playing for the long term. A couple more game modes and maps would make the game even more enjoyable but the guys at 2 Dawn Games have promised that all of that is on the cards. Ravaged has a few areas of the game that aren’t as well produced as its more successful counterparts but it does enough things correctly to warrant a long, hard look. Now, I’m going to have to go, there are some Scavengers to take down…