- Format: PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Merge Games
- Developer: Raspina Studio
- Players: 1-16
- Site: http://etarmies.com/
- Game code provided by the publisher
E.T. Armies isn’t great but it’s not awful either; it feels like it’s skipped a good chunk of the last decade’s First Person Shooters and just been made from half-remembered early noughties designs. It’s made in Unreal 4, and looks fairly decent for that reason alone; but lots of little things are “off”. Sounds, dialogue, and the general way it plays all feel as though it’s not quite there. The other issue is that it feels very limited – it starts and finishes in a very short space of time, and makes us think that it wasn’t really sure where it wanted to go in the first place. However, that does also mean that it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
This uncertainty pervades the entire game which, in a way, shows how inexperienced the Iranian team is. It mimics certain things but seems to be about ten years behind in some aspects. It has quite a few things nailed down fairly well; movement is fluid and has the right sort of feel for an FPS (which quite a few newer games still don’t get right). It doesn’t feel perfect, because the small things like being able to toggle aiming down the sights while shooting isn’t allowed, and landing after jumping emits no noise at all. These small things all add up, making it feel less polished than its competitors.
Shooting only really feels any good when you’re wielding the sniper rifle or using the shotgun properly. Unfortunately the rifles and pistol don’t really give the right sort of impact on the enemies, so it doesn’t feel satisfying. As these are the only weapons you’ll be using, it does mean that you’ll have to use less “fun” weapons often as ammo drains fairly quickly. The rifles all have certain playstyles in mind, but none of them feel particularly satisfying to use in their preferred roles.
It seems unfair to criticise the writing too much as it could be down to translation – but it isn’t great to listen to. It’s English as they teach it in schools abroad, with a fixation on the grammar. It’s robotic and lacking what makes English work in conversation. It also suffers from a main character that is likely intended to sound funny, but just comes off as whiney and out of place for a soldier.
The worst thing about E.T. Armies is the pacing of the game which has a few moments of running and gunning, but far too many moments where you just have to defend or attack a group of enemies that you need to whittle down. This is the one aspect that really bugs us, because the guns generally feel a little lacklustre and defending a small area feels both constrictive and claustrophobic causing them to become almost immediately tedious.
The lack of any forward momentum and the occasional addition of a countdown timer make it feel like a cop-out. Sit here and shoot waves of enemies that spawn a little too quickly to give you any sense of pace. Those sections are just go-go-go without the time to allow you even a moment to reload as you have to find new cover to run to away from the flying drones that constantly flank you.
Credit where credit is due though – the multiplayer isn’t half bad. The weapons feel better, but aren’t balanced. For instance, one-shot sniper kills compared to a small handful of shots from most other weapons which aren’t nearly as accurate. We were a little too successful against the opposition with a Sniper in hand and we aren’t the best at leading shots, either. It’s not great that that sort of thing exists in what are fairly open maps (of which, incidentally, there are only two) so that you spend a lot of the time either in the open or popping up from behind cover.
There are also some highly powerful abilities which everyone can begin to earn as time passes. However, those who get lots of kills will get them more often and they will also be the only ones accessing the really powerful ones. These are made up of all the non-human enemies in the game which includes flying drones, turrets, and a ship (flying). There are all ridiculously high in health considering the damage they can do, so it’s not as far from the kill streak issues of other games even though less skilled players can get a chance at them too.
It’s a shame that it’s already almost dead. The lack of guns, the lack of maps, and the lack of any lasting appeal has led to so few players that unless it picks up or you get a fair few friends together, you’ll likely never see how this was intended to be played.
E.T. Armies is a shooter that has a few highs and a few lows but ultimately is just okay. Its lack of content is its undoing in multiplayer, but its single player makes good use of your time by not outstaying its welcome even if it is a little bland. It’s a good first attempt from Raspina Studio and it could lead to better things in the future, but this game is still ultimately a shooter which fails to leave its mark on you – neither good nor bad, just mediocre.