October 18, 2017

Raiders of the Broken Planet - Review

Games that are delivered in episodic formats can fall one of two ways, the first is that they keep people entertained with solid story and great gameplay, or they fail to deliver and then fade to nothing before the final chapters are released, MercurySteam so far, are looking towards the first group.

Raiders of the Broken Planet does not hold back, dropping you into the action right away, telling you the basics of the story, in that the reason you are going into action and then that is it. From there you are dropped into your first mission, to break into a ship and rescue the prisoner that is being held, but of course, how you get there will vary, depending on the character you have selected and if you are playing solo or with friends. The first mission had me play as Harec, the sniper guy, who while nimble has a slow fire rate and his special ability to warp around the map makes him interesting to play as, but as that mission comes to a close, you can swap characters and choose from a few different fighters.

This is where the biggest strength of Raiders lies, in its characters, not so much in their personalities, as some of them are less than interesting, looking at you Alicia, but each character has a pro and con for choosing them. Between missions, they return to their hideout, where they can prep for the next mission at least, in cutscenes they do, before heading out to the next mission. Harec and his group of merry men and women, are attempting to locate 3 artefacts, which when activated will transport all humans off the planet, back to earth and make it a one-way trip at the same time, but they are not the only ones looking for them. Each mission has a final goal, but there are mini objectives to complete as you are making your way towards the end and that is where the fun comes in.

Each of the character has a set weapon and special attack to use, but where characters like Harec and Shae are similar, they are the opposites of Lycus and Alicia, who are vastly different to Konstantin as well. With the character selection, your weapon choice is pre-selected, early on Konstantin was my go to, as he comes with a machine gun, but he is very slow, so using him in a mission that requires more dexterity, is quite a challenge. Each mission also provides a recommended character, but you don’t have to use them, but if you select another character it will tell you if that will be more of a challenge, for example using Harec in a mission that has you taking down waves of enemies in an arena style space.

The biggest issue with the game right now, is that it is episodic and while you can get value from replaying each of the missions with a contrasting character, either online or off, it’s still a short experience. What does help make the game much more fun to enjoy is the antagonist mode, if you ever played Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64, this is much like that counter agent mode. You might be playing with a friend or two, but one of them is an enemy in disguise, their goal is to stop you from completing the objectives, but they must do it in a way that does not seem obvious. The level of subterfuge that is required will likely vex some players, but if you are predisposed to that style of teamwork, it is a riot.

The presentation of the game is where I am the most divided, the look of the world is great, the environments are detailed, the enemies are interesting and the bosses are unique, but the characters are mess. Harec is your first playable character, the problem is his design promotes his sniper ability, but does nothing to prove why he is a leader and when Shae appears, she is essentially a female version of Harec. Konstantin is a stereotype, as he is Russian, big and wears a lot of armour, but he is also the one that provides the most in terms of story progression, which does not match. Each of the character has an interesting look, the problem is that nothing combines when they are together, they are just there.

Sound wise, the games soundtrack is nicely done, it has a western feel, but with a touch of sci-fi, it is always present when you are playing, which is nice as well. Voice work is another mess, Konstantin again is Russian, with the accent to prove it, the problem is all the characters tend to embrace the stereotypes way too much, again looking at you Alicia. With the lack of character depth at this point, each time a character acts a certain way, or states something stupid, it removed me from the experience. Given that the game is episodic, I expect more characters will perhaps change how the current group behave and perhaps the existing characters will tone down their stereotypes, but for now it’s better to ignore the chatter from them.

Part one of this four-part story is off to a solid start, while the characters in this character based shooter are very much overdone, the co-op and anti-co-op gameplay help make the game worthy of your time. As an episodic game though, it is hard to buy in, given the unknown nature of the developer, Telltale have spent years building their reputation and MercurySteam have to prove they can deliver the same.

Thanks to MercurySteam for supplying the game for review

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