(This content was originally posted on NYGameCritics.com.)
It was a wild night downtown. The developers from U4ia flew into New York and made their way to the Critics Circle on Monday. Entering a dive in the East Village that we chose, they carried a big Mac monitor, a WiFi card, a Mac laptop and a ton of cables. Six or seven of us checked them out out with suspicion… that quickly turned to glee. That’s because we played a fair amount of their premier game, Offensive Combat: a free-to-play, multiplayer browser-based shooter that’s influenced by everything from Duke Nukem to Unreal to Counter-Strike.
So here are six reasons you’ll likely want to play Offensive Combat today — the open beta was released on September 27.
The Crazy-Ass Humor
When Dusty Welch unveiled the obese-to-the-max graphic of William Shatner as a caricature I could play, the vision I saw was a creation that’s happily irreverent in the way Vanity Fair can be irreverent. I definitely want to play as a parody character of someone who sings “Iron Man” like this. What’s next? How about a Nintendo Reggie character?
The Holy-What??? Pedigree
Welch came up with the idea for Call of Duty while at Activision. That’s enough for me to go into the beta to see what’s going on – even if I get my butt kicked (which I will because I’m bad at shooters). Other members of the team have worked on Need for Speed, Command & Conquer and other landmark titles.
The Console-Type Aiming & Shooting
Although I was using just four buttons on the keyboard and two on the mouse, I felt this was a legitimate approximation of an elite console game. It was fast, furious and unforgiving. Gird your loins.
Come Together in Unity
The Unity engine allows Offensive Combat to look very close to a console game – even in the beta stage. I was happy to see that the graphics looked finely detailed in a browser. They need to add some humor to the environments to match the weapons and characters, but once they tweak this thing, tons of folks will be playing.
The Weird Weapons
I’m part Polish. So when I saw the links of kielbasa you can use to whack at your enemies, I just had to add them to my character. There’s a kind of early Duke Nukem satire going on here. Heck, I even heard Pac-Man arcade game audio at one point before I chose the kielbasa. U4ia knows its gaming history and is having fun with it.
The Social Throw-Downs
There’s a fine line to walk here. Is paying for upgrades the right way to go for U4ia? How much isn’t too much? When is the humor spot-on and when is it too offensive? But more importantly, will you mind getting Facebook disses and taunts from your pals posted on your timeline when they kill you? If it’s a close friend, I won’t mind. If it’s someone I know casually, I’ll definitely not like it. But I’ll give it a try in open beta to see what happens.