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Author Topic: Review: Evolve  (Read 1559 times)


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Review: Evolve
« on: April 18, 2015, 07:32:24 PM »
It's been a while since I did any video game related writing. This review is partly to fix that and partly to help Eileen as she asked for my opinion on the game as she's considering a purchase of it.

When analysed from the most macro of levels Evolve is two things. There is the game itself and the business practices that the company making the game have used. It is very hard to try to talk about the game and NOT mention how the company is handling releasing content. What this ultimately boils down to is the three letters that gamers hate; DLC. But for the sake of trying to review the game and the game alone, I'll try my damnedest to avoid ranting on the DLC too hard, but we'll get to that later.

At it's core, Evolve is a one-to-five player, team based, first person shooter. It's a four versus one, or one versus four if you play as the monster, fight to the death game of hide and seek. You spend most matches running across the map trying to find and kill the monster which starts out at level one. The monsters goal is to stay alive and eat the NPC wildlife. Once it consumes enough, it can Evolve into a bigger, stronger version of itself. It can do this until it reaches level three when it becomes dangerous enough to knock out the maps power relay, which will win it the match. Of course the hunters aim is to stop this and try to kill it as soon as possible. There are some different game types that add different objectives, but the core of the game remains the same.

Unlike Left 4 Dead, where each character plays the same as one another, Evolve is class based. There are four classes and each one has a different role in stopping the monster. You must have one of each class in your team, no doubling up.  The Assault is the most straight forward, it's job is to do damage to the monster. The Medic keeps the other hunters alive, but can still damage the monster some. The Trapper's job is to slow the monster down and toss down domes that confine the monster and force it to fight the hunters. Last the Support is tasked with aiding the hunters as a jack of all trades, able to do good damage and also buff the hunters.

Of the four classes different hunters are available to fill those roles. Each one brings a different set of skills and weapons, but ultimately does the same job. For example, the first assault you get is the Russian cyborg Markov. He is equipped with a lightning gun that auto-locks onto the monster when close enough and can arc through nearby hostiles, an assault rifle with moderate damage and greater range, mines that can be laid down to deal damage to the monster, and a personal shield which can be triggered to soak up a huge amount of damage for a short time. The second assault you get is the British-accented badass known as Hyde. He comes with a flamethrower that deals huge damage but has a short range, a minigun with exceptional range but high spread, toxic grenades that slow and hurt the monster but also slow teammates, and the personal shield which functions the same as Markov's. Both of them play somewhat differently, but at the end of the day their job is the same; do damage to the monster. It should be noted that while some hunters function better than others, it ultimately comes down to the person playing them also factoring in player preference and play style. For example, I'm better with Markov than Hyde, but that doesn't mean Markov is better than Hyde.

With the core game comes three of each type of hunter and three different monsters. At the start the tier 2 and tier 3 monsters/hunters are locked and can easily be unlocked by playing the tier one hunters/monsters. It shouldn't take more than a few games to get the tier 2's unlocked and then a few games of playing with the tier 2's to get the tier 3's unlocked.

Aaaaaaand now we must talk about the big fiery behemoth in the room; the DLC. Like most games coming out Evolve had a special edition as well as a season pass. The special edition, costing a whopping $100 US, contains the season pass as well as access to a future fifth monster and two future hunters, plus bonus skins for the monster and the behemoth. The season pass, valued at $25 US, contains one new hunter of each class and some cosmetic skins for the monster which do not effect gameplay. Recently a 4th monster was added, costing $15 US to unlock. There is also a plethora of skins to unlock for the hunters weapon and monsters skin, but these have no effect on the game, they each range from about $5 to $7 US. So at this point, to have everything that the game is willing to offer both now and in the future (barring skins), you need to spend $100 US, which is fucking nuts. Again I'll try not to rant too much about the shit business practices, the numbers should speak for themselves.

However, one thing to note. Not owning one of the DLC monsters or hunters only prevents you from selecting them to play at the start. You can still be in games with them and can even switch to them if they are being played by bots, but you cannot pick to play them at the start of a round. This is good as it doesn't prevent you from playing matches just because you haven't coughed up the money for every last shred of content.

Putting that aside, at it's current state, the game is a blast and has kept my attention for dozens of hours. It's a great party game with friends and is even decent to play with bots. One word of warning though, if you plan to venture out into the community and play matches against online players, you will not have it easy. Most of the community is made up of people from the previous betas who have hours and hours sunken into this game, they tend to be very good, but also very demanding. You are expected to know your role and perform it well, otherwise matches can be lost and people can get very...unpleasant. Do yourself a favor and take your time, do some bot matches, learn the ins and outs of each class, and then jump into online. This is especially true if you want to play as the monster. Good monster players know how each hunter functions and can plan their attack around it. It's a great game to learn with friends.

One thing that the game lacks though is story, which is a shame. The in-game dialogue between characters hints at a very intriguing universe filled with alien planets, old wars, futuristic technology, and interesting groups. But the small talk between characters and the minute long map cut-scenes are all you get. The characters themselves are all very unique and have interesting stories as well, but again, the only time you learn about them is when they decide to speak, which isn't very often. It really leaves you wanting more.

Above all else, I highly recommend this game, BUT I feel that picking it up after a price drop or on sale would be the best idea.
"There's black diamond coal burnin' in my veins, and a taste in my mouth I just can't explain" - The Hunger by Kreeps