Thursday, August 19, 2010

MicroVolts - CBT impressions

Last Thursday, Rock Hippo Productions started their closed beta test for their first free-to-play title: MicroVolts. For those that don't know this by now: MicroVolts the localized title of H.A.V.E online, a third person shooter that managed to attract tons of angry Valve fanboys with its infamous teaser trailer that looked suspiciously similar to those "Meet the (character class)" videos from Team Fortress 2. Even though not much gameplay was shown in the teaser, Valve fanboys still wrote it off as a TF2 ripoff.

Then some actual gameplay footage came along and while it still looked like TF2 in terms of visual aesthetics, the gameplay resembled Unreal Tournament in 3rd person.
Here's that gameplay video of MicroVolts/H.A.V.E one more time:

I was pretty hyped for this one, so I managed to snag a beta key and I started playing a couple of days after the launch.

For starters, there doesn't seem to be a USA server available, which was weird since this game was promoted for both US and EU territories. Since no USA server was available, I join the United Kingdom server assuming that all the English speaking players would be there.

MicroVolts doesn't start you off with an interactive tutorial or anything. I guess they're assuming you already know how to play, which is fine and all but for the sake of certainty, I'm thinking they should add one later on. There is a video tutorial available in-game, but it's the same tutorial that was shown in the promotions prior to the closed beta launch.

Since this was a closed beta and all, it's obvious that there was going to be lack of content. Upon viewing what the item shop had to offer, there's only a handful of customization options available. Regardless, I was still able to pick out a nice look for my character.

Me playing as Knox

One thing that bothers me about item purchasing is that there are no permanent weapons to buy. You can only rent weapons for one day, one week or one month. I've seen this kind of thing used in games before and it's a cheesy ploy to keep the player base dedicated and for the publishers to make bank. I've already said my piece on the discussion boards for MicroVolts and I say that rent only weapons have got to go.

I was actually a bit surprised by the gameplay. From the gameplay videos, I thought it was going to play just like Unreal Tournament, but it plays out more like Quake with Unreal Tournament on the side. All weapons have their obvious strengths and weaknesses, but some weapons seem to be a bit overpowered. Namely: Melee weapons and Sniper Rifles. Strong attacks with any melee weapon can insta-kill on the spot. The default sniper rifle doesn't insta-kill (unless it's a headshot,) but the Sea Eagle sniper rifle sure does. I'm sure that when HP and defense boosting items get added into the game it won't be much of an issue, but as of now: It's bogus.

Chainsaw + Sea Eagle = Easy Mode

The modes currently available in MicroVolts are your average FPS fair: Team DM, Capture the Battery (which is just CTF with a different name,) Item Match, and Close Combat. Item match is the same as Team DM but being able to use power ups mixes thing up a little. Close Combat is a melee weapon only mode. I can see Close Combat mode getting old really fast, but I suppose it's nice to try it every now and then, plus the music that plays on the  map for Close Combat mode is a funny knockoff of music from Super Mario Bros. 3.

The map for closed combat is giant chess board... Is this awesome? [Y/N]

The four characters you get to play as: Naomi, Knox, Pandora and C.H.I.P all look pretty awesome, but their voices can pretty annoying at times, ESPECIALLY C.H.I.P's voice who at times sounds strangely like Eric Cartman from South Park, God damn. I play as Knox because he has the most tolerable voice out of the four, in my opinion.

The pacing of the game feels right. Not too fast and not too slow. In the future, though, the pacing may pick up when more movement speed items are added. The weapon switching in this game is also pretty slick and will make twitch based shooter fans feel right at home. Anyone that plays shooters like Quake or Unreal Tournament will know how important quick weapon switching is. Being able to switch weapons quickly means being able to switch firing tactics without missing a beat. Right now, people are already doing crazy things with weapon switching, and later on people will be able to decrease delay time between weapon switching even more, so I don't even want to think how insane things are going to get later on with that.

The visuals of MicroVolts look pretty great even more medium settings. The scope and scale of the environments do a pretty nice job of making you feel small, and as far as functionality and layouts go, they seem pretty balanced for both teams except for the Model Ship map.

Besides from the rent-a-weapon item shop, the only other gripe I have with this game is the god awful lag issues. The net connection system is Peer-to-peer and the speed of the room host mixed with the country server location determines the connection speed, and since there's no US server, lag is apparent everywhere. It's just no fun getting chainsaw killed by players that don't show up on my screen three seconds after I get killed by them. All this makes me feel like I'm playing vanilla S4 League all over again.

Overall, MicroVolts is shaping up to be a pretty awesome title that hardcore shooter fans can appreciated despite it being filled with living anime Barbie dolls trying to killing each other. For more info on MicroVolts and the closed beta test in progress, check out the link below.

Now I end this post with a collection of kill cam shots I took from players that destroyed me in combat (because taking pictures of me playing and doing well in battle is hard as hell.)



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