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On 03/10/2012 at 05:00 PM by Mike Wall
Fun, fast-paced gameplay overshadowed by an outdated matchmaking system
With addictively chaotic gameplay and intelligent map design aimed at thrusting players headfirst into the action, Nexuiz has the potential to be a great game. Based on an open-source PC game that was derived from a Quake mod, Nexuiz is heavily inspired by its illustrious gaming background. Sounds like an old-school gamer’s dream, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. While Nexuiz brings us classic gameplay from a forgotten era; it also delivers an outdated matchmaking system along with it.
While it’s normal for games to suffer connection issues on the day of their release, Nexuiz was nearly unplayable. The servers crashed continuously, not only kicking me from games, but preventing me from playing at all. I would often get a message stating that I was disconnected from the server. After receiving this message, all online functions would be disabled until I restarted the title. Luckily the servers have improved in stability since then, but latency issues and failed host migrations are still all too common.
These issues are only further compounded by the fact that players cannot be added after a game has started. Tied in with the lack of penalties for players who quit games, this becomes extremely problematic. With disconnects, lag, and quitters, few games make it to fruition with both teams intact. In fact throughout my experience at least 90% of the games I played have involved uneven teams.
When the stars do align to provide you with a sturdy server and full team, the game is sublime. Nexuiz revels in its simple to learn, yet difficult to master approach. Players will join one of two similar alien races, pitted against one another in 3v3 or 4v4 matches. No reloads, no cover, and no running away, Nexuiz is all about merciless in your face gunfights. Frantic and fast, the game relies heavily on precise aim and nonstop movement.
Players are kept in a constant state of flux thanks to the copious armor, weapons and power-ups scattered across all 9 maps, with each map tailored for a specific game type (6 Team Death Match and 3 Capture the Flag). However, the real beauty of the map design lies in its more subtle nuances. Learning the perfect location for a rocket jump or a jump pad trick provides new unforeseen avenues to run flags or frag enemies.
With loads of weapons and the all-powerful strength drop (which provides players with 2x damage for a short period of time) periodically spawning, constant map traversal is a must. The game offers a slew of high powered weapons ranging from your standard Sniper Rifles and Rocket Launchers to more foreign methods of destruction like the Electro, which fires a ball of lighting that explodes on impact. Each weapon provides regular and alt attacks, each of which offer different strengths and weaknesses. Every weapon hosts its own unique feel; while only some will become instant favorites every weapon serves a purpose given the right situation.
In addition to armor and weapons, players will also need to manage Mutators during each match. These random power-ups are achieved by completing objectives, going on kill streaks, or picking up power-ups along the map. Mutators run the gambit from augmentations such as unlimited ammo to the downright ridiculousness that is “farty poppy”, which replaces all in game sound effects with fart noises.
While random in nature, players can increase the chance of obtaining certain Mutators by using pips, which are earned by gaining points in matches. While the Mutators will always be random in nature, pips help to a small degree to potential turn the tables in your favor. With three possible Mutators available for selection via the D-Pad during a match, they serve the function of mixing up the gameplay and adding a new element to this old sub-genre.
Nexuiz is fun, fast, and intuitive, but the persistent matchmaking problems far outweigh the enjoyable gameplay. Considering that Nexuiz suffers from such a vast array of matchmaking problems it’s unlikely that players will put up with these difficulties with so many other shooter options available. Thus while Nexuiz is fun, the short shelf life of this title makes it a bad bet.