In an era where triple A modern military shooters with loadouts are churned out in droves, Nadeo’s newest first person shooter ShootMania Storm takes us back to an era where players are allowed to zip around the map at hyper speeds and aim down sights is a nonexistent game mechanic. While the game does feel reminiscent of old school arena shooters such as Quake and Unreal Tournament, does it stack up to gameplay and fun factor of the games it draws influences from? Not quite.
The gameplay is very straightforward and bare bones compared to other shooters. Rocket jumping, a classic technique of the arena shooter, can also be done as well as a few other techniques such as grappling onto a surface with a hook or wall jumping. Three guns exist in the game: the rocket launcher, nucleus, and laser. The rocket launcher fires a slow moving projectile towards an enemy. The nucleus, which can only be used when inside tunnels, buildings, or caves, fires a ball that sticks to walls and explodes over a certain period of time or if opponents step on it. The laser, which can only be used in certain spots of the map is akin to a sniper rifle in that it fires an instantaneous beam of light over a long range. Ammo isn’t found by the player but it instead charges over time, so guns are cooldown based rather than having a finite source of ammo. There are many different game modes available to players ranging from your standard team deathmatch to defend/assault game modes.
The gameplay, while initially fun at first due to hopping around all over the place and spamming rockets, quickly becomes monotonous from the lack of variety in weapons. The nucleus and laser can only be used if you stay within a specific area of the map, so there is very little incentive to use them as a player will be stuck to a certain area rather than remaining mobile, which is an important aspect of arena shooters. As a result of this, gameplay tends to devolve into jumping around and M1 spamming until your default rocket lands a hit. However, when you land a hit with your rockets, it isn’t satisfying either because it just feels like the guy you were shooting at walked into your shots by accident rather than you outplaying him. In addition to that, when you kill a guy, rather than having an animation of him dying, the character gets beamed up into the starship Enterprise and respawns elsewhere, which is incredibly lame because it pretty much turns the game into laser tag.
The aesthetics and art style of this game feels incredibly bland and sterile. The UI for the menus are cluttered and aren’t easy on the eyes, the textures of the maps are primarily brown and have monotone colors, and the fonts and color for text are abrasive. It feels like the aesthetics of the game were designed to be as inoffensive and plain as possible, but, as a result of that, the game looks very generic and nothing really stands out about it. Guns aren’t even modeled onto your HUD so it looks like you’re shooting lasers out of your torso like Iron Man, but it doesn’t feel even remotely as awesome as it should be.
There are modding tools available for players to create their own maps, but I think the default maps should be appealing to players first rather than waiting for modders to create content. The modding tools range from a tool that will allow users to create maps using over 250 standard blocks or custom 3D blocks to modding tools that will allow players to change the visual effects of gunfire and character animations. This will appeal to those who are interested in modding the game since tools are provided directly to them.
Overall, I didn’t find this game to be as enjoyable as it should’ve been. The game’s barebones nature, Nadeo attempting to make the game be as balanced as possible, and Ubisoft pushing the game to be an e-sport results in the game losing a lot of charms that old school arena shooters had: zipping around the map, picking up cool weapons, and blasting people in the face. While I understand that Nadeo didn’t want to make a Quake or Unreal clone, ShootMania Storm’s gameplay ends up being repetitive and lifeless due to the lack of gun options. I can see why some people can find ShootMania Storm to be fun due the skill-based nature of the gameplay, but I personally don’t see the appeal of playing virtual laser tag.
Available on: PC; Publisher: Ubisoft; Developer: Nadeo; Players: 1-32 ; Released: April 10, 2013; ESRB: N/A; MSRP: $19.99: Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.