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Old 04-15-2012, 12:50 AM   #1
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Rate this Review - Confrontation

My third review here. Please do continue with the criticisms and help! Really looking to work with GC in the future.

Also, apologies on the lack of photos. Something has derped with Flickr and I am unable to access my account there.

High: Watching your squad decimate enemies with special attacks
Low: Where the hell are you running off to?
WTF: Queuing actions and clicking alternately use right and left clicks. WHY?

Confrontation is the latest game from Cyanide Studios, who are building a reputation for adapting popular miniatures board games for game consoles. Based on its series moniker, Confrontation sees the end of the world occurring and armies battling it out for supremacy.

This has translated into a squad-based single player game, focusing on each hero’s abilities to get the job done. Multiplayer has fast, frantic gameplay, but is it all worthwhile?

Buddies of mine
In single-player, players control a squad of up to four heroes traipsing around a map. Why are they traipsing? Who knows, as the story is convoluted and assumes players are already intimately familiar with the Confrontation universe – Sadly, I’m not.

Fortunately, players do not really need to care. Players will control a squad of four or less heroes during each mission that basically amounts to “Follow the flashing red objective marker”. While there are a great variety of heroes to choose from as the game progresses, one is never left confused as to what each excels at.

Each character is clearly marked as one of the three archetypical MMO roles of tank, DPS or support/heals. This simplicity and clarity shines throughout most of the single-player and helps ensure Confrontation doesn’t entirely lose its player base.

To elaborate, each hero character has a range of six skills and two weapon sets to choose from. From here all tactics arise, as players can pause the game to queue up orders before and during battle. For example, an enemy crossbowmen and a Dasyatis (Think bull demon fused with machinery) wander into view.

I pause, queuing up a charge and taunt order for Darius, the tank, followed by a protective shout that grants more armour to surrounding friends. Zelia the mage prepares a stun spell on the crossbowmen, before turning her attention back to the demon with a fiery magical arrow attack. My other two heroes decide to simply wade in instead of wasting vital energy.

Then I unpause, and watch it play out.

There are no after battle spoils to collect, just more walking down the corridors spoiling for fights. The action here is fast, clean and frantic. When it works, therefore, Confrontation’s battles positively shine in that respect. Despite dozens of skills at player’s disposals one is never left feeling confused over what they do, how to use them during fights, or stuck for options.

This carries over to levelling as well. With the aforementioned simplicity in skill and weapons, both the scattered weapon upgrades found throughout levels and level-up skill point allocations are easy to both understand and utilize. Just because every game wants to add RPG-like options to their titles doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to do it well.

Need more pals
Multiplayer is supposed to bring a whole different ball game to the equation. Here, it hews more closely to the miniatures game, with both sides agreeing to a total army point system. From there, players pick and choose units based on how much they cost before pitting them against each other.

Unfortunately, despite trying to log on during weekends and various times of the day, I was unable to find a single opponent to battle. This despite the fact that I could see leaderboard rankings showing people were clearly playing it somewhere. It might have to do with timezone differences, as this is a primarily European release. You also cannot start a battle against AI opponents (Unless I completely missed a menu option) Be aware should you want to pick up the title.

Faith, Magic, Fervor… What?
Despite the neatness of combat however, much was left to be desired in Confrontation. To start, the graphics are, to put it kindly, bad. Washed out backgrounds and blurry, muddy units left me wondering if I had accidentally put the graphics settings to low (I hadn’t) A lack of mouse cursor indicators also left me confused sometimes as to why I could not climb or surmount certain objects.

We can live with bad graphics if the gameplay is good. And while most of the time it is, when the AI breaks in Confrontation, it breaks badly. More than once, I had queued up several commands in an intricate blend and then unpaused, waiting for my heroes to go at it. And then watch as they promptly ran off in another direction. Or stood blocking the doorway preventing other heroes from reaching their foes. Or failed to respond to my rapid, massive clicking when they drew the unwanted attention of foes.

This is particularly galling when I discovered that Confrontations also utilizes the MMO idea of “aggro”. Zelia’s propensity for flinging high damage spells around means enemies inevitably stop beating on the tank to chase after her. This would be fine, except often, my tanks would simply stutter-step behind said foes instead of actively engaging them. Zelia herself would often simply stand there attacking while I furiously tried to order her to move away.

Finally, the game has horrendous, cringe-worthy voice acting. The narrator alternates between breathless rantings and plain bored speeches, creating a dissonant tone that confused me as to the urgency of any missions I played. Heroes themselves hew closely to the hackneyed tropes they spring from. Darius’s paladin-like style naturally created a deep, baritone voice booming pithy comments on how their side’s religion is better than the enemy’s.

Is Confrontation worth it? I would have to say no, not by a mile. Yes, the simple tactics and screens make for a pleasant enough diversion. And when battles work correctly they are a joy to watch. But given all the other bugs and issues players have to plough through to get to the meat, it simply is not worth the time.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 10 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 times) and 0 hours of play to multiplayer modes (There was no one online)
Parents: The ESRB has not rated this game. There is violence, blood, mild sexual themes and religious overtones. It should be all right for younger children to play this in smaller doses.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing: You don’t miss much listening to terrible voice acting. There are no voiceovers that inform you of sudden sneak attacks either, so there is no problem with missing attacks. All story missions are also fully text-based.
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