At this year’s E3, there were plenty of spectacular games that impressed gamers, journalist, and developers. However, there were not many surprises during the press conferences, but there was something that a few E3 goers were able to notice. The show was interestingly filled with plenty of free-to-play games. Games like Hawken and Dust 514 were showcased during the event, and they were not only fun, but they looked phenomenal. These games showed us that free-to-play games can rock and look good while doing it.
With that in mind, welcome to the world of UberStrike HD. UberStrike HD is a free-to-play first person shooter game that evolved from a small game known as Paradise Paintball. UberStrike HD gives OS X players a rather fun experience with HD graphics that make the game stand out. Sadly however, the game has a few deal-breakers that stop it from being all it could be.
UberStrike is a game that goes straight to the point, and does it with no remorse. Upon signing up, you’re guided through the game’s tutorial — which is actually pretty cool. Once you are done with all of that, you’re immediately taken to the main-screen where things get a little messy. The first impression, is that this game actually looks good, but the menus and icons can get you a bit confused and overwhelmed at first. Soon enough though, you start to get the hang of it.
As you get familiar with the UI, you will start to notice that there are quite a few things to mess around with before actually playing the game. There is a clan feature, private messages, a chat room, and plenty of items to customize your character with. These features make this free FPS game a full gaming and social experience unlike other free games in the Mac App Store.
The problem with the clan feature and most of the character customization options (including weapons and armor) however, is that they all require you to spend credits or money — which can add up to make a hefty amount.
This is perhaps UberStrike’s biggest drawback. The brief tutorial at the beginning of the game doesn’t explain how the credit system works or the imminent need of in-app purchases, so at this point you’re pretty much on your own realizing you have basic weaponry and practically no armor.
This becomes very frustrating when you start to play the game. On top of that, the game doesn’t reward you with new guns or armor as you progress and earn levels either. Instead, you will need to purchase or rent mostly everything.
This micro-transaction system featured in UberStrike follows an I-wanna-take-all-your-money model that will not only make your game experience suffer, but your wallet could suffer as well. Other free-to-play games have a micro-transaction system as well, but they focus on cosmetic upgrades and tweaks rather than armor upgrades and weapons that ultimately make the game feel utterly unbalanced.
Let’s put the game-breaking mechanics aside for a moment, and focus on UberStrike’s graphics. Although graphics don’t always make or break a game, it is always nice to be able to have striking (no pun intended) graphics that immerse you even deeper into the world.
With UberStrike, the “HD” graphics add that immersive feeling, making it a much more appealing game. Sure, it doesn’t look like Crysis or Modern Warfare, but it is fantastic to see that it isn’t just a lazy port to the Mac. Instead, the UberStrike team took the time and effort to make this game look prettier on your desktop.
If you are comfortable with FPS games, UberStrike will immediately feel natural to you. Aiming down the sights of your weapon and firing is fast and painless. There is no sprint ability, so at times you will feel like you’re power walking even though you’re moving fairly fast.
In any case, the gameplay itself is a simple first person shooting experience without any crazy new ideas added to it. This makes the game incredibly fun to play and very addicting. Add to that the fact that the level design in this game is pretty clever and fun to play in, and you have a robust experience at your finger tips.
With that said, let’s sadly go back to the crippling mechanics of the game’s shopping system. Once you hop on a game, you will be killed quickly unless you happen to be some kind of FPS God, and even then, killing others and staying alive will be a hard task — not to mention the frustration you will have when you are killed over and over by a bunch of jumping opponents.
Let’s be honest here, they have better guns, better armor, and most importantly, a tremendous amount of advantage over you. The basic weapons that you have can help you survive the game and score some kills, but compared to their weapons and armor, you don’t stand a chance.
If you want to balance this problem out, you are going to have to either spend time getting lots and lots of credits to rent the guns for a few days or buy the gun permanently with actual money. This completely makes the gameplay feel unbalanced and broken because people have more powerful guns than you do. After a few matches, you’ll want to retire and walk away for a while.
UberStrike HD is without a doubt an awesome game. The gameplay is solid, the graphics are sweet, and the fun factor is superb for a game of its kind. The only thing holding this game back, is the balance, or lack thereof, when it comes to guns and armor.
Let’s put it this way: if you know your enemy has an RPG or a laser gun that can kill you in one shot and he is protected by a bullet-proof vest while you have a small pistol and a bat, would you go out there and try to pick a fight with him?
If your life depended on it, probably. That isn’t the case however. Sacrificing the integrity and balance of the game in order to compel players to buy weapons, isn’t a nice model. Nevertheless, it is true that you can come out on top as long as you have that temporary sniper rifle, and it is also true that you can have plenty of fun with this game.
And remember, feel free to join our brand new Steam Group in order to play with or against Mac.AppStorm writers.