Warpath PC Review - 18/03/07

You could almost describe Warpath as an updated version of the old Unreal Tournament. It adds vehicles, but while the gameplay is very reminiscent of that game, it isn't nearly as fun.

Like in Unreal Tournament, there's no real story to the single player game. In Warpath, you have three factions all battling it out in a Dynasty Warriors: Empires style map system. You can click to attack, or be attacked and forced to defend. This 'strategic' element is completely lost in the scheme of the game, and what everyone really wants to do is get into the fast and furious first person action.

However, the actual gameplay is pretty disappointing. It all looks really good, and of course, being based heavily on the Unreal engine it plays well too. The problem is that it just has no depth. There's a set of just six weapons (although they can be upgraded), and while the supply of maps is plentiful, they are all pretty unoriginal and drab and so you will be forever getting lost amongst their mazy corridors. It's not that they're designed badly, but there's just not enough of the breathtaking scenery or varied environments of most FPS games today, despite some clear glimpses of greatness which should have been built upon.

The weapons, as mentioned, are only six in number. As you win battles in the Deathmatch, Capture the Flag or Attack/Defend game modes that make up the single player game, your faction receives C.A.Ms. These are nanotechnology upgrades, which alter the fire rate, power and capacity of your guns, as well as more noticeable features, such as shot style. One for example allows the rocket launcher to have a homing device upgraded onto it, and another gives a much more powerful fire rate to an assault rifle.

Some of the graphical effects are really something, but the AI lets it all down

These add variety, and it's certainly a welcome innovation to the genre, however, the lack of guns overall still means it gets stale very quickly, and having to lose your upgrades every game in multiplayer is likely to leave you frustrated with having to go back to a virtual peashooter after a rampaging game and all the best weapons in the previous round.

There is a selection of vehicles on a few of the maps, and they perform really well, rivalling Halo's Warthog for pure enjoyment and ease of use at times. However, despite looking and feeling great, they play such a small part in the game on such a small amount of maps, that you could play through most of the game without ever using them. The levels that the three vehicles appear on also don't seem naturally suited to mobile combat, with tight nooks and crannies that force multiple self-righting of the vehicles in every game. You have a hovercraft-like recon vehicle for one man, a three wheel bike for one man, and a dune buggy for two, and it's a well balanced selection which ultimately feels wasted on the developer's part. However, the game has been out elsewhere for a while now, so it may well be the case that the modding community has released new maps with vehicles more in mind.

The graphics are well polished and smart, if not a little flat. Character models and animations are also good looking, but that's where most of the praise ends. The AI lets down the rest of the game horribly, and in a title which relies so heavily on the other team in its single player component, this is inexcusable. On all but the higher difficulties, the AI wanders in straight, seemingly predetermined courses through the levels – if you shoot them while they're running away, they wont turn and fight back, but run on exactly the same course until you kill them, and the four other team members they were running with. They seem to have commands to group together at all times, meaning their stupidity in numbers allows multiple kills with one magazine of your weapon.

The action is so fast paced that you won't get a chance to admire the view out of the window

On the harder difficulties, the AI still tends to group together and generally look stupid, but they're far more accurate and inflict more damage, making it more challenging to stay alive on the whole.

Multiplayer is where this game should come into its own, and the fact that you can use AI bots online makes it a little more fun. However, there is very little online activity at the moment, most servers are empty and it's very difficult to get a game. Playing it over our LAN made for some good fun battles, with two human players on each team, but obviously not many people are going to be able to experience this.

Production values on the game seem to be pretty low. It comes on two CD-ROMS, and the install sequence is almost laughable. I remember having to insert disk one, then disk two, then disk one again to end the install on older PC games – now though you have to repeat this two or three times before the end of the installation. You don't need the disk to play though, and the appreciatively cheap budget price is probably a factor in the choice of storage medium.

Ultimately, if you're desperate for a cheap first person shooter, then Warpath is a very good option – especially if you've enjoyed the old Unreal Tournament's run and gun fun.



Digital Extremes
PC - Xbox (2006)