Nexuiz is a callback game to the Quake/Unreal Tournament era of Arena shooters. It’s actually quite a bit more than that, (it’s a re-release of a freeware game made to emulate Quake-era shooters, but built on a weird version of the Quake engine already) but I promise you, this is what you need to know. Nexuiz exists to show us what we’re missing. With our camping Xbox Live 12-year-olds with the proper time on hand to teabag an opponent only to get taken down by a spawn-killing sniper, this game stands as a counter-argument to the Call Of Duty-era.
Focused on tight controls, insane CryEngine 3 visuals and fast paced, fun-focused twitch-shooting, Nexuiz may be a beacon of light to those who want nothing more than to slip back into the soles of a floaty, heavy-armored speed-marine. In Nexuiz, it’s shoot, then think and not the other way around. With everything it has going on and its eyes fixed squarely on the early aughts, is Nexuiz opening a pandora’s box that should have stayed closed? Or is this generation lining up to say goodbye to iron sights forever?
In spite of many shooters these days having preliminary laggy netcode or buggy handling, Nexuiz comes fully packed with a functional and smooth multiplayer suite. The controls feel great, whether offline in training or online, the movement is always fluid and the game never seems to slow down, even when latency issues occur. THQ should feel proud that right out of gate, they pulled off a competent online shooter. Don’t fear the usual inevitability of dysfunctional online team deathmatches until a month after it’s release. Nexuiz is here and it’s ready for you.
Further more, the controls work beautifully, CryEngine 3 has done justice to the original Quake engine and the control scheme feels lifted right off Unreal Tournament. The addition of adjustable stick sensitivity isn’t exactly unwelcome, especially in a twitch shooter where your survival depends on how fast you’re able to turn around. If functionality is all you’re looking for in an online shooter, then consider Nexuiz a purchase. But that’s not all you’re looking for, is it?
The original Nexuiz was graphically unimpressive. Uninspired art design and decent polygon counts, though still fun. Thankfully, the new Nexuiz improves the graphical fidelity of the original on both fronts. With the CryEngine powering Nexuiz’s look and feel, this may be the prettiest game we’ve ever seen hit the downloadable market. If this is what the CryEngine is capable of, then the best is obviously yet to come. Secondly, the art design has vastly improved, turning into a specimen vaguely reminiscient of a love child between Tron and the Neo-Victorian era.
Although often cluttered, there’s no reason, after seeing Nexuiz in action, to think that the downloadable market isn’t capable of much more extravagant experiences, even though the file size for the game barely breaks a single Gigabyte. There is clearly some potential in the CryEngine that hasn’t been fully tapped and the future looks promising for visual fidelity in budget games. So the game looks very very nice, but that’s not the only reason you buy a game, right?
Beautifully Giddy Fun
The game simply gets it right. Minutes after getting into your first match, everything will make sense. The shooting is quick, reacts nicely and everything feels simplistic. As an antithesis to the modern shooter, the game eventually proves to be less about an overly labyrinthine control scheme and finding places to regen, hide or camp and rather is about who is simply the most skilled. If this game teaches anything, its that making a callback to earlier shooters isn’t a devolution and may in fact be the next step forward in the genre.
Simplistic is the word and the game is made around its relatively simplistic control scheme to create a game balanced and worked around its recalled mechanics. Camping points are discouraged, every area is open enough to where hiding and regenerating health is not an optimal solution and movement always seems to be a more sound strategy than staying still at any point during the game. So this is a beautifully conceived and well-designed twitch-shooter. But is this enough to justify the purchase?
The bane of the modern shooter, the matchmaking is tedious and actually pretty unpredictable. While never actually having any glitches or oddities that would lend themselves to flaws to the system’s flaws, it’s apparent that this is an area that could have used a more technical or player-friendly polish. The game doesn’t let on to when a match might start or how many players it will accept, it simply shows you the lobby and the people you’ll be playing with and sits still until the game decides it’s ready to play. In the process of making the game appear to have cleaner, less glitchy matchmaking, it would have been preferable to know when a match is simply broken and won’t be starting. By no means is it a deal-breaker, but maybe grab a book to read in between matches.
While the game has a respectable amount of maps, weapons and mutators, the game has no aspirations to keep you playing any longer than a match or two, banking on its actual gameplay to keep its players going. While this may seem like an admirable and confident idea, in the end, the game could only last as long as you don’t get bored with its selections of maps. The mutators, while a fun gameplay addition, don’t keep the games value as a long-term addiction.
It may be a perfect, modern addition to the long defunct arena shooter, but it’s not an evolution of any kind and tends to simply mire in the inherit samey-ness of a game with no structure. Treat it simply as a game to cool off, not to make any sort of movement or progress in. It’s simple fact, the game could have benefited from any sort of structure, whether it be an upgrade system, loadout system or even a short single-player campaign. As it stands, it just barely manages to hold up the weight of its ten dollar price tag.
Every flaw that Nexuiz has could be combated with the argument “it’s only ten dollars” and this would be a valid point. Nexuiz is a ten dollar game through and through. For its money, Nexuiz provides just enough to stay addicting for as long as its price would substantiate. It’s fun while it lasts and is certainly worth the money, if only to experience its astounding graphical prowess, trigger-happy gameplay and to show support for the bygone genre, but its fun is ultimately fleeting. Nexuiz is not the genre’s revival, but may be a humble new beginning.
[Editor’s Note: Nexuiz was reviewed on the Xbox 360 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Nexuiz Review,