War Tech Fighters (PC) Review

Developer: Drakkar Dev | Publisher: Green Man Gaming Publishing || Overall: 8.0/10

War Tech Fighters, the second most clever way to say “What The Fuck,” (the first being Work Time Fun) is a game that allows you to control a big robot and blow shit up. You shouldn’t expect Zone of the Enders, but something more like Gundam plus Transformers. The story is set on the backdrop of a war between Group A and Group B, and neither seem to like each other, so they fight and lots of people die. Such is war; if only the Obama administration didn’t pull us out of Iraq, we wouldn’t have to pull out of the Ares Colonies. Thanks Obama!

The robots are referred to as “War Techs” and are revered as the most efficient killing machines in the universe. However, there are still spaceships of varying degrees flying around, which is typically the stuff you’ll destroy on a massive scale. Each War Tech is equipped with a certain regiment of weapons, including fast bullets/lasers, slow bullets/lasers, missiles, and a sword. The first three categories are left to your preference what you decide to use at any given time, but they’re all efficient at killing things to a similar degree. However, you can’t use the sword except in 1 on 1 War Tech fights; it would have been nice to be able to freely use it, but then I guess it would be too much like Zone of the Enders… which really wouldn’t have been a bad thing.

There are a lot of different cutaways integrated into the gameplay which break the fluidity of the combat. The most disrupting are the cut scene executions of the common enemies, which reduces the intensity of battles significantly. It would have been if these were “in-game” executions instead of repeat cut-scenes that aren’t very diverse. You’ll start seeing new ones as you progress in the game, but a lot of them are kind of lame/slow. You can skip them, however, it requires you to hold space for a couple of seconds. There is a benefit to doing them, which includes recovering health/energy, so it’s kind of unavoidable.

Most of the game is centered around completing mission objectives. There are side goals to find hidden items and collect resources to progress your research/war tech and you can also replay missions for XP and resources. There are a lot of missions to play, but most are centered around blowing the same sorts of things up so there’s not a whole lot of diversity. Most don’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to complete. Occasionally there is an interesting spin on the formula, but missions primarily progress the barebones story. There’s a lot of “cool names” for places with little else happening as you go around and destroy Zatronian Empire outposts. If these guys are so easily defeated why do they even have an empire?

You’ll also take control of other characters and their War Techs to see different side stories before your main character gets involved. There are enough of these where it becomes questionable if your research actually makes a difference during these missions, which in turn reduces the value of completing side missions and upgrading your own War Tech.

The upgrade path is unfortunately very convoluted from a user interface standpoint and is set up like 15 different “tech trees” for each different part of the War Tech. Since you don’t find any equipment in the field, you just buy all of your upgrades as you research more things and get more resources. A loot system could have easily made the game more engaging and worth killing hundreds of enemies for. Really, I would have just taken something a little less visually confusing in its design at the end of the day.

The graphics are nice. There are a lot of filmic aspects that the developers added to give it a more cinematic feel. The designs of the War Techs are pretty unique, and the weaponry is mostly cool-looking. There are lots of explosions and the sound effects of your weaponry are satisfying. Music is just heavy guitar constantly, which gets pretty annoying after a while, but it isn’t really bad music. It would have been nice to have a variety of moods instead of just having energy of the music at 11 constantly.

There’s some stupid stuff in the game that seem to be included just because it is “cool” to have, like launching out of the hangar of a small ship with rocket boosters that detach as soon as you leave it, just a couple hundred feet away. Like, why? Might as well just drop out of it if you aren’t going to keep the rocket boosters at all for the initial part of the mission. A lot of the battle cut scenes are sort of like “robot porn” and get tiresome, like a robot grabbing a ship with one hand and crushing it. WOOOOO!!! AWESZZOMMEEE. There are also some annoying typos/grammar issues. Despite this sort of stuff, you can definitely tell there’s a lot of “love” put into the game since there are a lot of uniquely designed models flying around in the game. It is also continuing to get updated with quality of life adjustments and even some new features a year after its initial release.

The console versions recently came out for this title, and is now currently available for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. There are honestly not that many “big robot” games that look and play well, and while it’s not a perfect game, it is a competent one with enough thought behind it to be an interesting excursion. While it would have been nice to have a bit more of a fleshed-out story to attach the gameplay to, there’s certainly enough content for the entry fee.

 

Destination Primus Vita – Episode 1: Austin

Developer: Epsilon Games | Publisher: Green Man Gaming Publishing || Overall: 8.5/10

Destination Primus Vita – Episode 1: Austin is one of those games you’ll always have to copy and paste their full name because it’s too long.  When you have to have a dash AND a colon, you know you’re in for a “trip.”  Destination Primus Vita aims to be an episodic series of introspective analyses of characters who are off to fight the good fight against water-stealing rock aliens.  But enough about those aliens.  The real point of the game, at least with this episode, is the surrealistic simulation that our first character Austin is put through during cryosleep on a 4 year space trip.

While there are puzzles and exploration involved throughout, some fairly complex and unique, the main focus is obviously on the story.  The story is actually written pretty well, to my surprise, and is leagues ahead of the game I reviewed earlier this year, called The Station.  I was fully expecting it to go full ham or make some stupid political point, but it ended up just being a nice story wrapped in a science fiction foil.  The characters we were introduced to were all unique and also written very well.

At times, the puzzles were actually pretty complex and really made you sit and think about how to complete them.  There is also a nice variety of the type of tasks you have to do, even with some being timed.  As you complete certain rooms, you are introduced to memories in Austin’s past.  This changes the pace of the game as you take “breaks” from the main task at hand of researching armor to fight the “Shattered.”  During these interludes you’ll have to “make sense” of the memory by discovering details.  Some details do not appear until others are found, which can make these parts feel a little more linear.

Dialogue choices occasionally come up when conversing with other characters, prompting you to choose the correct ones to “progress” Austin with her relationships with them.  There doesn’t seem to be a payoff for getting these answers correct other than hearing what they say.  There might be some sort of point to this system once more episodes are released, but sometimes these things don’t come to pass with episodic games…

The puzzles usually require you to collect a set of clues to help you complete them.  There is always an exploration area that allows you to roam around, find clues, interact with the other characters, and find “mementos” that give information about the lore of the game, which is quite developed.  The developers took the time and care to create an interesting story and think through the aspects of how the events that occurred affected human civilization.   The only laughable thing is that despite rock monsters stealing practically all of the water from Earth, 400 years later the humans are still trying to find them and take back their water… without much of a plan.  It sort of doesn’t make much sense as they’ve been able to survive 400 years, have intergalactic space travel, and probably could just get water from comets or create it by collecting hydrogen and oxygen.  There’s a lot of those chemicals in the universe, by the way.  So it does seem a bit petty so long afterwards to go after the aliens “for the water,” when the goal of hunting down the Shattered should have been a bit more grander than that.  But, I digress.

The art, voice acting, and sound design really compliments everything else that’s going on.  The surreal mind program simulation thing ends up being a really unique storytelling device and a good excuse to just put whatever the fuck they want into the game.  The functional purpose of having Austin experience this simulation slowly reveals itself; it certainly didn’t make sense why they were doing it at the beginning of the story.  Many of the rooms started to utilize 3D space in such a way that walls became the floor and the ceiling would eventually be where the next section of the level was.  I was starting to get a headache with all of the angle turning, which doesn’t usually happen, but if you get motion sickness it can potentially be unpleasant.  As an aside, Austin’s voice actor reminded me of Claudia Christian from Babylon 5, which I am currently trying to get through.

Despite some of the misgivings about where the story may eventually lead, I did enjoy this title quite a bit for what it was.  It was a quick play of about three hours, but your mileage will vary.  It could probably be done in two hours.  I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next and hopefully the writers don’t get lazy along the way, otherwise it’ll be yet another episodic series that should never have been episodic.