S4 League Review
By Michael Justice, OnRPG Journalist
Every now and then, I get sick of playing as a magician who attains several generic spells over the course of fifty levels, and I turn my sights to the casual crowd of MMOs. Of course, there are several out there that give me the urge to start up Download Accelerator Plus and create an account within a span of ten seconds, however, S4 League was one game in particular that caught my eyes.
Having heard about this game during its Korean beta phase, I was extremely anticipated for the release of S4. From my first glance it seemed to be a very fun game which you could simply pick up and play; and it is simply that. I created my character from a mixture of baggy pants, a very questionable T-shirt and the essential short, scruffy hair. The game starts you out in a tutorial that gives you a nice feel of the game before you jump in to a real match and get your head blown off by 3 people bombarding you with SMGs. This game focuses heavily on teamwork simply because there is no “free for all” mode, at all. It’s not like you can be some lone wolf by going in, guns blazing and kill everyone. You need to seriously co-operate with your team if you want to get anything done. This is achieved through various means such as healing team mates or putting up blocks, creating a barrier to prevent the enemy from coming.
Weaponry in S4 League is varying in all types. You start out with a sub machine gun, which is pretty much your standard, basic gun that you will find more than 75% of the S4 community uses. You also start with a plasma sword, which if you use right, can pretty much kill anything in less than 2 seconds. The variant of the plasma sword is the counter sword which can do several combos as well as block other melee attacks. In the weapons shop, there are variants of the SMG (sub machine gun) which are classified as “firing weapons”. These weapons are guns that just have straight means of fire such as the Semi Rifle, which is pretty much a bolstered SMG with a zoom-in feature. There’s also the Gauss rifle, which is a really big gun thing that has horrible aim but dishes plenty of damage when it hits. The Revolver is pretty much a shotgun; it just doesn’t look like one. There are also “sniping weapons” which are guns that do a lot of damage from a far distance, like the Cannonade which does what it says, it shoots grenades which asplode anything that it comes in contact with.
There’s also the rail gun, which fires one single straight beam of energy which hopefully hits the target. “Mind weapons” are probably my favorite, though. The mind shock weapons steals health from the enemy (it works through walls!) and gives it to you. The “mind energy” weapon allows you to heal your team mates, which is good; you need healers on your team just as much as you need people to shoot things for you. There’s also a sentry gun, which kills stuff for you and stuff, I never used it, but some people I have seen use it and kill just as much people as anyone else. All of these weapons combined with skills, create a very diverse play style, so it’s not just people constantly shooting at you and you constantly shooting at them. It adds another level of difficulty to the game and that’s one of the reasons it’s great. Later, when more weapons and skills are added, the game will be even better.
In S4, there is a little yellow bar at the bottom of your screen which indicates your SP. With SP, you can do some pretty amazing stuff. You can dash (no description necessary); you can also jump off of walls to get to places like roofs and such. Skills also use SP. Skills is simply in the game for fun and convenience. There are movement skills like the wings (I shouldn’t need to tell you) and the Anchor (works like the hookshot in the legend of Zelda). There are also some skills which create environmental effects like the block (creates a big wall in front of you so you can shield yourself or block enemies from coming) and the shield (adds a moveable shield that blocks all bullets that should hit you). And of course there are your basic, stat-boosting skills like +30HP (you start with this one) and +30SP.
The game currently has 2 modes. The classic “shoot everyone till someone gets more points”; i.e.: Death Match, which focuses on, well, killing everyone on the opposite team. The other mode is called “Touch Down” (which I am pretty sure everyone thought it meant “Team Death Match” in the beginning). Touch Down focuses on grabbing a cute little one-eyed alien ball thing and running to the other team’s goalpost without getting impaled by people charging you down with counter swords. It is extremely hard to score a Touch Down by yourself (you’re walking around the enemy’s base, you think it’s that easy?) so I stress yet again how much you need your team to do things in this game. Of course, this is simply a preview, more mode(s) will be implemented later (hopefully).
One thing I really do like about S4 is how it focuses a lot of its theme. Supposedly, all of the battles and stuff is online, in virtual reality… I didn’t really think about it too much because it made my head hurt, but the entire thing is put together quite nicely. From the electronic frames when you break boxes to the 1s and 0s in your death sequence, this game has a real feeling of being involved in cyberspace.
In the store, you can also buy clothes. The wide array of poofy-shoes and zipper-coats will make any Kingdom Hearts fanboy shout with glee as they can dress up their character from head to toe. You can also customize your clothes (as well as your weapons, for that matter) to give stat-boosting bonuses like +10% EXP or +4 of your favorite weapon category. As a forewarning: clothes can be majorly expensive, especially if you purchase stats with them. When you die in any match with a permanent weapon equipped, that weapon loses durability. If the weapon breaks, you have to buy an entirely new one; that being said, if you have a full set of clothes on plus 3 permanent weapons, you just probably lost 100 PEN(the currency in S4, don’t ask me). S4 has such a perfect game system that I wish its server system wasn’t as bad. You see, S4 uses a very notorious networking system named “peer 2 peer” which makes users connect to other users. This creates sever networking issues from people who live in far distances. I can’t play with any of my friends who live in the UK or Australia simply because of the extreme distance there is. You don’t even have to be very far away to generate lag, all you have to do is start up a system process that creates a lot of networking traffic on your computer and you’ll be pretty much invincible. You’d think there would be some kind of votekick system to boot all the people who are lagging, but sadly, in S4, a lot of features have yet to be installed. This after all, is a preview, so a lot of this will get fixed very soon, however, at the moment; all we can do is wait. Some features I would hope get implemented / allowed access to be a kick system as well as the “voice chat” option I see in the options menu. Alaplaya is a very good company that maintains it’s updates with games it knows it is successful with and I hope they realize that the S4 playerbase is quite large.
So, to sum it all up, S4 is one of the best casual action games to come across the market in a while. The learning curve is simple, the game itself has plenty of features to not keep you bored and it’s just one of the games that you can jump in to and have fun.