GDC 2012 Day 2: Arctic Combat
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Remember the good ol’ days of FPS games on the N64? Games like Goldeneye that stressed chaos and hilarity over realism and balance. Well Webzen is taking a stab at recreating the past with a new FPS called Arctic Combat. Built on the Unreal Engine 2.5, this game packs some serious potential without losing sight of what made us all fall in love with FPS games to begin with. Let’s take a look at what it offers.
Modes and Options
Arctic Combat offers your basic expected modes, including deathmatch, search and destroy, and free-for-all for a true fragfest. Of course the real fun comes in by splicing in the sub modes into main mode matches such as pistol only rules, rocket only rules, and tons of other goofy options such as the immortal only knives that is so popular in most FPS games that offer it. In the current build of the game they have managed to get up to 16 people in a battle at once, but they are still experimenting to see if it’s viable to up that number.
The maps are really well designed to give a feeling of a middle ground that is too dangerous to cross unless you are carrying a significant advantage. Players can either station themselves in strong defensive positions to hold back advancing troops or go for the greater risk greater reward option. By this I mean there are some pretty hairy parts of the map that you’ll likely have to kill one or two people to reach alive, but they offer some spawn points for some of the strongest weapons in the game if you reach them. I’m talking about lasers to call in airstrikes, remote controlled UAVs, helicopter assistance, rocket launchers, and concussive flash grenades. If you have to be the star then I highly suggest taking the risk to acquire these items as you will get credit for any of the kills obtained via the aerial vehicles.
The Unreal Engine combined with a truly dedicated sound team have done an amazing job of setting the mood in each battle. Every map will really feel like you are apart of the Arctic World War III setting the game takes place in, with screams and gunfire echoing from the distance at all times. Distinguishing between back ground noise and actual combat can take some time to adjust to, and allows for sneaky players to get away with assassinating untrained foes far behind enemy lines.
Motion capture technology also allows for some truly realistic run and gun animations in this game. The high quality graphics combine with it to really add that feeling of umph when blowing your foes away with a rocket launcher. They’ve included the whole shebang with body parts falling off and incredible rag-doll physics, but the squeamish can feel free to shut this all off and enjoy a more vanilla experience.
Guns, Equipment, Skills, and More
In terms of gun selection, Webzen has done a superb job of creating a feeling of near future warfare. Expect your typical modern weaponry as well as a few tough to unlock futuristic weapons, each rated in the categories of damage, fire-rate, stability, firepower, mobility, range, ammo per clip, and total ammo to help you get a feel for the weapon prior to even using it in combat. You are able to carry two weapons with you at once so choose wisely to give yourself a balance of range and duelist guns to fit any situation.
In addition to choosing your weapon you can also choose your characters skills in an RPG style leveling system. Passives and actives that allow you to run fast, jump higher, instant lock-on aim, or instant reload are among some of the skills they had on display at GDC. Learning how to use your skills in combination of your weapons is what’s going to separate the casuals from the pros in this game.
A final feature I will mention before ending this write-up is gear. Players can acquire special suits that unlock more skills and alter the stats of your character a bit as well. These are mostly obtained through a trophy system that rewards players after each match with some nice goodies like weapons, costumes, or nifty bragging rights by marking their profile with a badge. For those worried that the gear might make players OP and ruin the fair FPS feel, Webzen claims that for every strength a suit offers, a counterbalancing weakness comes with it as well allowing players to become specialized based on their gear but never being pro at everything all at once.
My initial impressions of the game were good. Everything felt incredibly smooth and polished, and the map designs were very reminiscent of Goldeneye. The helicopter strike weapon was amazing and I was so glad I was on the team allied with it as it leveled the playing field and scored me 7 kills that I wouldn’t have even been aware of it not for the little pop-ups provided. Unfortunately I was playing against bots since PvP has not fully been implemented yet so a full review of how balanced the combat feels will have to wait till later this year. Luckily we won’t have to wait long as this game will be hitting stateside by the second half of 2012.