MicroVolts Review –Toy Story on Crack
By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Rock Hippo Productions just broke into the free online gaming market with a quirky third person shooter title called MicroVolts. For those that don't know: MicroVolts was developed in South Korea under the name “H.A.V.E Online”, which managed to attract tons of negative attention due to the release of a teaser trailer that looked suspiciously ripped off from one of Valve Software’s “Meet the…” character class videos for Team Fortress 2. Despite the negative claims, the developers later revealed that while the game shares a similar visual style with TF2, the gameplay proved to be a whole different story.
The premise behind MicroVolts is simple: Toy dolls and action figures are fighting with and against each other over everyday appliance batteries, and you get to play as one of those toys.
Starting off, there are only four playable characters in the game and only two of them will be available from the start (Knox and Naomi.) Of course, there’s no real difference between each character in terms of how they play, so you’ll mostly be picking them by style preference. Hopping straight into the tutorial, you should have no problem getting a grip on the control scheme since it uses that typical FPS key layout that we’re all used to (WASD.)
MircoVolts’ core gameplay works just like any other third person shooter: You run, you shoot, you jump, you shoot, you crouch and you shoot some more. Pretty straight forward, but general gameplay gets kicked up a bit with the ability to quick swap. This simply means you can switch between your weapons with little to no delay, allowing you to create different combos and setup kills. From there, players have developed a slew of new attacks such as wave shots and tail shots.
This mechanic gives the game a bit of old school twitch play, and while this mechanic makes the general gameplay more interesting, you won’t have to learn most weapon switching tricks since having good aim with good running and gunning skills will be more than enough. Learning how to quick swap on the side will simply make you a more efficient killer.
Coffee goes great with a hint of burnt plastic.
You can tell at first glance that MicroVolts was made with western audiences in mind from the start, with a visual presentation that comes off clean and colorful as an animated Pixar film and clashes nicely with the death and destruction that happens all over. The map design for most areas can be a bit questionable, but the scope and scale of the environments do a pretty nice job of making you feel like a small toy in a big world, and as far as functionality with layouts go, they seem pretty balanced (maybe except for the Model Ship for team battles and Battle Mine map on zombie mode.)
The four playable characters in MicroVolts, Knox, Pandora and C.H.I.P, are chock full of personality with cheesy voice overs that sound hilariously bad. So hilariously bad, in fact, that some would say they sound quite good. (Ok, well maybe ONE of the character voices might wear on your nerves after a while, like C.H.I.P’s voice, who sometimes sounds like he’s Eric Cartman from South Park.) Each character reacts and vocalizes themselves towards different situations on the battlefield, so expect lots of banter from them to keep things lively.
Personally speaking, one of my biggest pet peeves with free-to-play shooters is when purchasing items are only available as rentals, and MicroVolts sure has it. The options available for item renting will only be one day, one week or one month. I've seen this kind of thing used in games before and I think it's a cheesy ploy to keep the player base dedicated and for the developers/publishers to make bank. Worst of all: the timer on each item you buy starts to count down once you’ve purchased it, so if you’re not much of a dedicated player, you’re going to be wasting your hard earn MicroPoints (in-game currency).
MicroVolts is simple enough to get into and enjoyable in short bursts of play, but when you get right down to it, there just isn’t enough going for it in terms of lasting appeal. Some of the game modes available are pretty basic (Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, Capture the Flag) and the other modes available are just not all that interesting. Elimination mode is just team deathmatch with no respawans, item match mode is just team deathmatch with random power-ups and zombie mode is just… well… a zombie mode (I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have to explain this one, since just about EVERY online multiplayer game today tries to shoe horn in some kind of zombie mode… You can thank Valve’s Left 4 Dead for that.)
Although general gameplay is geared towards teamwork, working with your team simply relies on how well you can communicate which can be done with quick radio chat commands and team chat. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but it’s as bare bones as team co-op can get, and most bouts in Microvolts are generally dependent on solo performance.
Most of the weapons and items that require higher levels to unlock are only marginally better than the ones you can get early on, and unless you’re into earning achievements for some extra MicroPoints and bragging rights, you may find yourself losing interest in the long run.
In terms of customization, there isn’t much available at the moment. There’s only a handful of different looks you can create for each character, so it may be hard to find a look that you can truly call your own.
One issue that players might have with MicroVolts could be the lack of matchmaking options. Once you have hit level 5, you will be dumped into a new channel with the rest of the playerbase, which means there are pros mixed in with newbies that are still learning the ropes.
Overall, MicroVolts is a simple and enjoyable shooter that’s great to pick up and play every now and then. If you are just looking for a simple shooter to kill some time with (and have a thing for dolls and action figures), then give MicroVolts a try. Just don’t expect a long lasting experience.