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E.T. Armies

Platform(s): PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Merge Games
Release Date: March 3, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'E.T. Armies'

by Brian Dumlao on March 25, 2016 @ 4:30 p.m. PDT

E.T. Armies is a fast-paced, science-fiction first-person shooter. The game takes place in a future where Earth has been reduced to ashes, and it's now home to a nation that hungers only for war. Prepare yourself to rise and defend against the invasion of the Forsaken.

One of the best things about video games nowadays is that they're truly a worldwide experience, both in terms of playing and developing them. A majority of our games still come from Japan, North America, and many European nations, but the current game publishing climate and methods for distribution have also given other countries a chance to enter the market. One of the more recent examples of this is Iran, whose biggest hit so far has been the Garshasp duo of titles. With the sanctions recently lifted, there's more opportunity to bring the country's games to a wider audience. One of those games is E.T. Armies, an unfortunately titled first-person shooter that delivers on the standard bullet points.

The story almost mirrors that of Killzone, one of the development team's inspirations. Far in the future, war has once again erupted, and the idea of peace has gone by the wayside. This time, the fighting has taken its toll on the planet, forcing many to escape to the stars to find a new habitat. Those who were left behind became known as the Forsaken, caught in a perpetual cycle of seeking revenge and finding more sources of energy to keep the war machine going. You play the role of a young Parsis soldier, a sort of Special Forces dedicated to keeping the peace. After an attack by the Forsaken, your group heads back to Earth to take the fight to them.

Though the story has some interesting bits, it is undermined by an uneven translation job and equally uneven voice acting. There are several instances when verbs don't have the correct tense, or the translation from the original script is too literal. The tone is also mismatched, with some serious scenes becoming unintentionally casual due to the way a character says a line. Though it wouldn't have made the story infinitely better, it wouldn't have hurt to have someone give the script a once-over.

As for the gameplay, it seems to mash together some of the mechanics from several different shooters. You can carry quite a bit of weaponry since you don't have to drop a gun if you want to pick up a new one. You have a regenerative health system, and you have to reload your guns, though your pistol has infinite ammo. For some reason, your crosshairs don't light up when you move it over an enemy, but you get an indication that you hit a foe with your bullet.

For the most part, the shooting feels fine if you keep a few things in mind. Burst fire seems to be the best way to go, as sustained fire means you'll waste bullets on enemies that don't register getting hit during their hit animations. The game also likes to funnel you into situations where you're surrounded on all sides. This produces some interesting set pieces, like a fight that has you taking cover with a moving cart, but this type of thing happens often enough that you'll fall into a cadence with fighting and traveling without much break in the rhythm.

However, some aspects may interfere with one's enjoyment of the title. Your running speed is pretty decent, but your general walking speed is very slow. This may be intentional since you produce very bass-heavy footfalls with each step, but that sort of realism doesn't necessarily translate into a fun experience. The AI is also less than passable on both sides of the skirmish. Your AI partner may never need to be healed, but he does a poor job of hitting the enemy and leaves himself wide open to getting shot. The enemies also stand in the open almost all of the time, and they fire at you even when you're behind cover, as if they can break down everything with sheer force.

Unlike the single-player campaign, multiplayer comes with some new abilities. You can now melee enemies, something that is inexplicably missing in the campaign. You can also call on some extra tools to help you or your team like a drone, radar or turrets. Calling on those things requires points, which you obtain either by killing foes or waiting for the points to slowly regenerate. However, there is a limit to how many tools you can call upon in one match, and given the cost of each, you'll likely save the points to use one powerful tool at just the right moment.

Having said that, the online community for the game is absolutely bare, and while part of that can be blamed on the title's relative obscurity, there are a few other factors that don't make it appealing to the average player. That includes the map selection, where only two are available. Both are of medium size and have a decent layout, but they're nothing special. Likewise, the modes are pretty standard, and none feel different from the offerings in other games. Without that incentive, expect the lobbies to remain empty for the foreseeable future.

Graphically, E.T. Armies pushes Unreal Engine 3 as far as it can go. This is especially evident when you see how many effects are being piled on-screen. Lens flare and particles like smoke and embers are everywhere you look, while dirt and grime on the camera lens are always evident if you catch it at just the right angle. The environments may suffer from having that all-too-familiar steel and brown color scheme, but the frame rate is rock solid on what can now be considered low- to mid-range hardware. The guns sport loads of detail, and even the texture pop that the engine is known for has all but vanished. It is a shame, though, that the character models were sacrificed to get the other game elements looking good. Cut scenes show some poor animations at times and a general lack of lip sync whenever anyone speaks. There's not a lot of variety in the character models, especially the enemies, who look cloned down to the last detail.

The sound isn't quite up to snuff. As mentioned earlier, the voice acting is marred by performances where the tone fails to match the situation. It also doesn't help that the quality of the voices and effects fluctuates from muffled to crystal clear in the same scene. The music is the bright spot as far as this category goes, since it may be generic but nicely fits the tone of an action sci-fi game. The only issue is that the music also doesn't know when it should play and when it needs to stay silent, preventing the game from creating an appropriate mood all of the time.

In the end, E.T. Armies is nothing really special. The gunplay is fine so long as you're content with using a limited amount of weaponry against some brainless AI. The story is passable if you're OK with a presentation that's not exactly up to snuff. Without a real multiplayer community to extend the life of the game, E.T. Armies is overly dependent on the campaign maintaining players' interest in the title. It's a good effort from the studio, but it's not the best choice if you're jonesing for some FPS fun.

Score: 6.0/10

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