Old school shooter, modernised, but badly broken
+ Old school twitch shooting - modernised
+ Fast, frantic and incredibly fun (initially)
+ Interesting addition of mutators
+ Decent selection of maps
- Combat gets a bit 'samey' after awhile
- Really buggy
- Really really buggy
- To the point of being unplayable in places
Nexuiz had humble beginnings. Originally developed on a highly modified version of the Quake 1 engine, back in 2002 by a two man team; a lot has changed since then. Several million downloads later, Nexuiz is now published by THQ and developed by Illfonic, and has received a massive visual upgrade to CryENGINE3 in time for it's current release as part of House Party.
At its heart Nexuiz is an modernised and incredibly pretty arena shooter, a clone of Quake or early Unreal Torrement. Gameplay moves fast, it’s shooting where the smallest twitch can be the difference between a headshot or a bullet to the face. Not much has changed here, the core mechanics are still the same as yesteryear and if you yearn for the days of simple, fast, frantic and incredibly fun shooters then Nexuiz could be just what you’re looking for.
There’s nothing much in Nexuiz that hasn’t been seen before, just two modes - Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag - nine maps, which to their credit are all designed to be compact, action filled and use the vertical space brilliantly. You won’t find yourself getting lost and all the maps can be learnt in a matter of minutes, though that doesn’t subtract from the enjoyment you’ll get from each, especially once you learn all the hiding spaces and where the selectively placed teleporters and man-cannons drop you off. You can see clearly the pedigree from games where rocket jumps and players spending more time in the air than on the ground was the norm.
The weapons themselves are standard shooter affair. Most have primary and secondary fire modes (some of which are very similar) meaning you are getting more fire power for your buck, the only real difference is theming. Each weapon has been loosely dressed up to fit the rather limp story of a competition broadcast across the galaxy between the Kavussari (red team) and Forsellians (blue team).
Battle between the two races is, for the vast majority of the time fought online, though the addition of a training mode with bots - an element that I for one have sorely missed from recent shooters - makes the gameplay easy to pick up offline before diving on online. The training mode isn’t really to teach you the ropes of combat, in essence even with the secondary fire it is still just point and shoot, it’s more to get your head around the games’ mutators.
Dynamic mutators are scattered throughout the maps in the same way that you’ll find weapons, armour packs, and damage multipliers. When collected you’re given the pick of one of the three randomly selected mutators from a list of 118, all of which modify combat in some way. Some of these are interesting additions, such as; infinite ammo, jet packs, supercharged weapons or rapid fire, though most of these, especially the supercharged weapons, feel as though they really should have been embedded in the standard gameplay. It’s as though the most entertaining parts of combat where removed, and then reapplied, so that they could be used as a sales point. Admittedly, this doesn’t make the mutators any less enjoyable, in the fleeting moments when they’re in use.
Though what does drain the game of all its enjoyment are the frequent, and in many cases, game breaking bugs. In my seven or so hours of play I can only list a handful (possibly less) matches that played all the way through completely issue free. You’ll find bugs of all shapes and sizes in Nexuiz; from the games inability to actually perform as a 4 vs 4 shooter because it only allows six players on a map and kicks the other two before the round starts, or that when they’re kicked it forces the game to find a new host, which can take minutes, or that when migrating hosts mid match your personal score is lost. I really don’t wish to step on a game that feels so satisfying to play when it works, but glitches, such as; spawning with a reticle but no gun, completely failing to register a hit when you’re inches away from an opponent, or even preventing you from picking up the flag when it’s standing right in-front of you are crippling to the experience. The glitches extend outside of matches too, the leaderboards, medals and rankings are completely broken as is the process of changing maps between rounds. During playtime I’ve compiled a list of at least 30 issues, all of which are inexcusable for a shooter to still have when shipping, these aren’t petty quibbles to be quietly patched, they’re game breaking and completely shatter any immersion.
When you play through Nexuiz, it's easy to imagine that it could be a good, if not great little shooter. Considering that it’s priced at 800MS Points it’s fair to place expectations a little differently; the weak array of game modes, and gameplay that feels a little bit same-ish after a while is acceptable, though, allowing the game into players hands in its current condition, regardless of pricing, truly, is not.