Wednesday, December 1, 2010

S4 League - Review

Back in 2008, Alaplaya graced Europe territories with a futuristic third person shooter that featured stylish team based gameplay and an even more stylish cyber world atmosphere, and it was called S4 League. Created by Pentavision, this third person shooter title was teeming with moderately fast action, style, twists on classic gameplay modes, style, ridiculous fashion and even more style. S4 has seen a lot of changes since its debut and now in 2010, Alaplaya opened its doors for US players to jump in.

But with more shooters titles appearing on the MMO market, is S4 League still in style, or out?

Starting out

Creating your first character in S4 League will sadly be devoid of any style as there are very slim pickings available for character's top, bottoms, hairstyle, etc.

S4 League's tutorial explains the basics of gameplay and will only take you around five to ten minutes to get through. It explains movement, some weapon usage and how several gameplay modes play out.

Afterwards, you'll be given a vibrant new sub machine gun, semi-rifle and plasma sword to get you started.

Stylish presentation

S4 is oozing with style from its visuals to its music. The game world of S4 is completely artificial with the environments you play on are all digitally rendered and destroying enemies in battle will make bits of binary data flow from their bodies. Basically, the world of S4 is one giant virtual arena, sort of like the arena thing that TRON had going for it.

Stylish battlegrounds!

All the characters designs in S4 will make players look like some kind of assassin's guild reject from No More Heroes. The outfits are generally covered with enough belts and zippers that they would make a J-RPG fan squeal. Still, there are plenty of outfits to choose from and you'll most likely find a look that suits your tastes.

Stylish fashion!

The creators of S4 are also the same fellows behind the DJMax series, and they've manage to pour a whole lot of its flavor into S4. The music filled with tons of techno, hip-hop and electronica, most of which were pulled directly from recent DJMax games. S4's stylish music either relaxes you or hypes you up for battle, and it's all accompanied by the most outrageous battle announcer ever, who will make even the tiniest moments exciting. Seriously: I'll never get tired of hearing the announcer yell "WHO DAT MAN?!" everytime someone scores a touchdown.

Stylish gameplay

S4's gameplay is all about gating with style. The control scheme is about as average as they come for shooting games, but what makes it so stylish is with the amount of weapons and skills available.

Stylish action!

You have access to submachine guns, rail guns, sentries, rifles, shotguns, handguns and everything in between. And then you got your skills like using skateboards as grappling anchors, being able to turn invisible, summoning walls to block off paths or even grow a pair of robotic wings to fly around with.

Mixing and matching between your weapons and skills allows you to create stylish combos. Example: Using Mind Shock + Detect skill makes you into a legit wall hacker or using Handgun + Invisibility turns you into a spy that can cover ground quickly and un-detected.

Game modes in S4 make stylish twists on classic shooter game modes and sports. While Team Deathmatch is basic and straightforward, game modes like Touchdown and Chaser are futuristic versions of Rugby and Tag, respectively.

Stylish opinions

One feature that I still enjoy about S4 is with its semi-destructible environments. Some objects on maps like boxes, bridges and rooftops can be destroyed. When these objects are destroyed, you can see an outline of those objects from where it was originally placed and it will respawn back onto the map in a set amount of time. Destroying objects to alter the battle environment adds a small but stylish layer of strategy, and it's always a joy to destroy a rooftop with enemies on top.

S4 League started out as a team based shooter, but now it's starting to lean towards solo performance with Chaser mode and the inclusion of Battle Royal, which I can dig. It's just sad that during these modes, there is no half-time show, so no adorable alien robot will come in and start dancing for you.

Stylish chibi-robot dancing!

One thing about S4 that disappoints me is that it adopted my biggest pet peeve with MMO shooters: Rentable items! Several patches ago they removed permanent items for everything except from capsules, and speaking of which: Capsules are basically another one of those gachapon systems that are used in some MMOs, except with somewhat outrageous prices.

G-capsules are only available for AP users (paying players) and they have a chance of giving very powerful permanent weapons that are overpowered compared to normal one (and in the case of the bunny capsules, skills and accessories). Note: it's only a chance that you can get permanent weapons/skills though, because unless you're insanely lucky, you might end up spending a ton of money before you get a permanent item from them. For a game that's loaded with style from head to toe, using an outdated gachapon system that favors paying players is just so out of style.

Not so stylish gachapon!

But wait! There IS an alternative to G-capsules, because for the very low price of EXPENSIVE, you can buy an I-capsule using PEN (S4 League's in-game currency.) On the upside: Timed weapons and skills don't start counting down until you use them in battle and prices on most other items are fairly cheap enough for gamers of any preference, but the lack of permanent anything is just so very... un-stylish.

Oh, and there's also hackers. Hacking players still seem to be around in S4, but they only to show up once in awhile, so you won't have to worry about them too much.

Stylish verdict

Despite some poor changes, S4 League still manages to be a stylish and enjoyable experience with overall fun and exciting gameplay. Alaplaya has been doing a decent job of hosting S4 so far, and they seem to be improving their efforts as of late. Most G-capsules will soon be available to PEN users as I-capsules, so cash shop balance may be improved by this in the future.

My verdict: S4 is still in style.



Fantastic gunplay
Team and solo based gameplay
Ridiculously outrageous outfits
Futuristic and digital battle arenas
Colorful visuals
Dancing robots

Lack of permanent items
Somewhat overpowered gachapon system



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