New developer Holospark tries to resurrect a classic shooter with Earthfall, the question is whether this is an upgrade or a copy and paste of a better game? Alright, ladies and gentlemen, strap on your flamethrowers, time to kill some zomb…I mean aliens.
Earthfall starts with giving you an option of playing solo or online multiplayer. I chose single-player and right off the bat I was disappointed. Instead of throwing me into a strong cutscene to immerse myself into an amazing story, I got to pick a menu to choose my own adventure, but they were all locked except the first option so how am I picking? This would have been fine after I beat the game, but not before. It breaks the story and ends up pulling you out of it. After choosing your mission you can then pick between four possible characters, there is no customization for weapons or appearance; this was a big miss for me.
The story is light at best. The dialog changes depending on what character you choose, but it’s the same recycled lines if you ever replay them. This makes no reason to repeat the game if you’re looking for something story based to change depending on what character you choose. Branching stories would have been an interesting mechanic and possibly made some people play it at least four times to hear all the endings, but that is not the case. At the end of the day, you have a story that ends in four hours with no repeat value.
Then there are the bots. Oh wow, the bots are the worst part of this game. Getting caught on doors and not knowing how to get out are just some of the many frustrations. Bots can and will shoot you in the back. And since Holospark turned on friendly fire, playing harder difficulties is almost impossible without other players. Friendly fire is fine if you want it, but in its current patch you cannot turn it off, so you’re stuck with bots jumping in front of your shots or them shooting you.
I am always a fan of drop-in, drop-out co-op. It’s one of the best features in games today. Co-op can make the worst games fun to play, and it was a fantastic idea by the developers to add it to Earthfall. I would have preferred that they adjust the difficulty and amount of aliens based on how many players were in the game, and not just filled the missing players with bots since it would have separated itself from Left 4 Dead by doing that.
The controls in Earthfall get the job done. I didn’t play with a controller, only a keyboard and mouse, and I had no issues with lining up shots or my character getting caught in the environment. There is a weird reticle that seemed to show where to hit before I click my mouse. There is an ability to place tactical turrets and barricades in Earthfall. While picking them up isn’t an issue, placing one on the ground can be. There are only certain spots that light up green which is where the objects can be placed, and a lot of the time you can be killed before you even get a chance to set the object down. You could say that this adds a challenge, but it felt more tedious than challenging.
Combat was a highlight. Sure, you can predict when the special enemies are coming, but those offer a needed threat. I don’t know if I ever got hit by a drone because they were so easy to kill. The special aliens are a different story though. There is the Whiplash, The Blackout, Enrager, Sapper, Thresher, and The Beast. Once you have the basics down though, the special monsters barely offer a challenge, except for The Blackouts and The Beasts. Blackouts are a tough one to deal with. They teleport to different sides of the map and are surrounded by rotating shields that do damage to you if you get too close, not to mention they shoot laser beams at you. You can get two-shotted in higher difficulties if you’re not careful. Nothing is more annoying than The Beast. The Beast attacks who is doing the most damage to it. Once it starts running at you, it’s only a matter of time before it catches someone. It will one-shot you; then it’s over. I once put a full clip of 200 rounds from a mounted gun into its chest and head, and it still kept coming. The Beast is a fun alien to kill if you have a group of friends, but it almost always wipes you out on solo though. Thankfully the items in the game offer a large number of health packs and team resurrections.
Once you play Earthfall, it is evident that this game is based upon Left 4 Dead. But the point of doing a game again is to do it better; to update the graphics and add your own spin to make it more modern or fun. Earthfall does none of that. Everything that is fun and good about this game is what they took from another title. You have to ask yourself why this game was made? I expect more from Holospark in the future.