Warpath is a fast-paced, futuristic first-person shooter in the tradition of Unreal Tournament, where three races are locked in a bitter struggle for control of a utopian planet named Kaladi. Players will be able to choose a heavily armored soldier from the Ohm, Kovos, or Coalition races as they attempt to conquer contested territories for strategic purposes. Eight weapons are available in the game, ranging from twin-barreled assault rifles to explosive rocket launchers, each of which can be upgraded for added firepower. Also available are three different land vehicles that can be used to traverse the 3D battlefields and to blast anything foolish enough to stray in their path. Online multiplayer support is also included via LAN or Internet for up to 16 combatants. Four modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Frontline Assault, all playable on a choice of 25 maps from various locales across the planet.
In WarPath, you play as a member of one of three cultures warring for control of a mysterious planet "rich in beauty and resources." You have to take the planet's marketing firm at its word on that, since all you'll see is a smattering of nature and some truly ghastly underground bunkers during your stay on the planet. The majority of your time will be spent shooting any number of projectiles at the two races you choose to war against, of the three available. The Ohm are bio-mechanical humanoids with a penchant for shotguns and grenade launchers, and they want to take the planet for its resources. The Kovos are the obligatory noble warriors, brutish and keepers of the planet for hundreds of years. Finally, there's the Human Coalition, a race which just happened to settle in the midst of a war zone in full body armor and helmets.
The single player mode consists of an angular war zone, with roughly one-third of 16 zones on the map controlled by each faction. The factions take turns attacking and defending, and as you defeat your enemies you unlock their weapons for your arsenal. The Ohm have the advantage, as they open up with a powerful close-combat shotgun and grenade launcher, while Kovos is stuck with a pitifully weak sniper rifle and an orb gun that is nearly useless in its non-upgraded state. The Human Coalition skate by with a machine gun that's painfully inaccurate, and a slow (but powerful) rocket launcher. Each weapon can be upgraded via Combat Augmentation Modules (C.A.M.s), which are dolled out at the beginning of each match, and (in multiplayer) upon killing an enemy.
Havok Physics are set to the extreme, and gravity on the war zone planet can make you giggle. You'll jump inexplicably high, and the corpses of the vanquished often tumble through the air for a humorously extended period before clattering to the ground. While the physics won't make the game, they're probably the most enjoyable part of the gameplay experience.
The maps are all startlingly similar, and aside from the single player boss battle and a pair of levels that actually take place outdoors, appear as if they've been pulled from any generic sci-fi shooter of the past two years. While the scenery is crisp, it's repetitive and basic. Ammo boxes and armor are scattered in predetermined spots throughout each level, but the infinite ammo crates, which sometimes impede movement and are placed in bafflingly strange locations, look a lot like an afterthought by developers.
A generic futuristic techno soundtrack fuels the game's menus and gameplay, and I hope by now you're noticing that I'm running out of synonyms for generic. The sounds of each weapon aren't particularly bad, and a few of the weapons, once upgraded, sound much better than weapons in other popular franchises.
There are two major problems with gameplay, however, that knock this game below its peers. The first is the AI, which is the worst I've seen in years. Enemies will sit in a crouch, ostensibly waiting for one of your comrades to wander in front of their guns, and often will not even spin to face you until you've got your shotgun/vibroblade/rocket launcher pressed to the back of their helmet. This would be plausible - enemies and allies alike don't make too much noise moving along a corridor - if, while playing in the CTF mode, enemies couldn't bare down on you as if they were laser-guided. While some reviewers have claimed that playing on the hardest difficulty setting (Flatline) improves AI behavior, all I was able to coax out of more difficult AI was better accuracy - they still camped like robotic n00bs.
My second complaint is based on aesthetics. Even while sitting in the dark, gaping at my television, I sometimes had trouble picking out members of my own faction from enemies. Often, faction indicators blend into the surroundings, and the similarity of each faction's design means that in the midst of a firefight, you're likely to waste several rounds on a teammate. Luckily, friendly fire doesn't exist in whatever galaxy you're fighting in.
Clearly, WarPath was designed for multiplayer play. The singleplayer campaign is just too brief. The problem with multiplayer is that it, like the rest of the game, is bland, generic, mediocre, and probably several other forms of yawn-inducing adjectives. The modes are standard for the genre - CTF, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Assault. The public seems to have picked up on how badly WarPath missed the mark, since there were a total of 12, then 9, then 12 players online for North American multiplayer action during my three multiplayer trials. While you can always pretend to have friends in single-player "Practice Mode," this multiplayer-centric title has almost no fans online at any given time.
Perhaps one of the only compliments I can deliver to the team at Groove Games is this: WarPath seems to be almost totally free of technical flaws. The sole glitch I was able to extract revolved around the smattering of elevators on each level - stand too close to the wall on some and you'll be sucked down to your instant death.
In the end, Warpath misses the mark on a number of levels. AI is some of the worst you'll find in a shooter, the design is uninspired, and the gameplay reeks of half a dozen other titles. WarPath tries so hard to be other games that there's no room left for innovation or more than five hours worth of enjoyment.
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