Nexuiz
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Colour-blind Mutation in action

Before the reign of the modern day shooters that now churn the First Person Shooter genre wheels. There were such games as Quake and Unreal Tournament. In these games if you weren’t deadly with a weapon and fast on your feet you became fodder for the opposing team very quickly. There was no aiming down sights and no kill streaks to help you on your way to dominance. Simply you, a gun and some health pickups scattered around the warzone. Nexuiz is a throwback to those days and attempts to bring the high speed twitch gameplay to the 21st century with an arsenal of new and old gameplay mechanics to boot.

Nexuiz has been released before as creator Lee Vermeulen’s attempt to bring a free to play quality arena FPS to PC, Mac and Linux in one package. The Nexuiz under the microscope today is a reboot of the original recreated by IllFonic that has been released for PC and the current generation consoles.

Now on with the review. With no formal tutorial other than to play alongside AI controlled bots, those new to the twitch factor in games may have a little trouble getting used to the frenetic gameplay of Nexuiz. However the two game modes on offer are team death match and capture the flag. Both game modes that common FPS players should be fairly familiar with.

The twist in the tale is that these game modes aren’t just your basic get to the kill limit or capture limit. Like Arena games before it Nexuiz has ‘mutators’ these goodies which Nexuiz has over 100 of, change the way the game plays. Fairly if not completely unique to Nexuiz is the fact these mutators can actually change during the same match through small pickups that allow players to choose from 3 different variables per pickup. To describe each one would take all day so here is a small selection of what is on offer:

  • Colour-blind – This de-saturates the screen turning everything black and white. Making it nigh on impossible to tell friend from foe until they launch a rocket in your face.
  • Mix up – A cool mutation which changes everyone’s weapon randomly at certain timed intervals.
  • Evil Summon – This crazy effect makes all enemy players teleport to your location so must be used wisely.

The arenas or maps in Nexuiz are possibly one of the most stand out points of the game. This is in no small part due to the use of Cryengine3. Although arenas are nothing too complex and conform to the usual map standards (CTF maps are mirrored etc) The use of colour and lighting mixed with the Sci-fi art style in the engine simply make these a joy to play in again and again, and as there are only 9 maps with some feeling rather similar to each other this is certainly a good thing. This does however come at a price. Due to games like Nexuiz relying on decent frames per second to keep the action entertaining and smooth you will need a relatively high end PC to hit the top of the graphics options and enjoy the engine to its fullest.

A crucial part of any FPS is the balancing. So it brings me great joy to report Nexuiz has this covered. Weapons in the game have their own strengths and weaknesses but you never find yourself finding and sticking to one weapon as you need to utilise the full arsenal to remain effective in the arena. The main downside is that on occasion it can feel as if your weapon is firing blanks. As sometimes combat can take a while to resolve, but it never feels like you have less of a chance to kill than any other competitor.

Nexuiz differs from alternative FPS games on the market through the player count. At the time of writing Nexuiz supports up to 4 vs 4 teams. This may seem like a low amount in comparison to the numbers other recent games have been able to offer, but the design of the arenas rarely leaves you wandering alone looking for the fight. The decision to have a low player count is to attempt to create the competitive feel of clan vs clan action rather than having clans and regular players all on a team and thus try to keep Nexuiz in the E-sport spotlight.

As with all multiplayer driven games Nexuiz will live and die with its community. At the time this review was written the game is only 5 days old and therefore is still a new release. It is consequently not going to reflect the true player base this game will receive and with a strong player base this game will thrive and grow. I can imagine content updates and maybe new mutations or game modes in the form of DLC becoming available should this reboot of Nexuiz become a success.

By not being afraid to take inspiration from older arena titles and the ambitious style and delivery of the game Nexuiz has managed to recapture the spirit of the turbocharged FPS. At only a fraction of the cost of a new release title Nexuiz is difficult not to recommend. Although limited by only having 2 game modes and nine maps the mutators keep the game feeling fresh. The superb balancing means an enjoyable game can be had almost everytime. Those with lower end PC’s may want to check their system against Nexuiz here on the site however before parting with their money due to the demands of Cryengine3.

The use of Cryengine3 really delivers stunning visuals, but at a cost