By Paul Barbara
Defiance is the latest title from Trion Worlds and is essentially a MMO for console gamers. Traditionally MMO’s have failed on the console due to many reasons, but will Defiance have you throwing away your keyboard and mouse? It’s highly unlikely.
Defiance begins with an introductory cut scene that places you on-board essentially a space craft where you witness an ultimatum between what appears to be a military leader of some sort and a diplomat (i.e. a guy who feels he is quite important). There is a heated exchange of words and then some rough turbulence strikes and you’re all encouraged to take your seat. Within moments, the cabin fills with flames and your ejected from the ship and awake to find yourself on the planet, dazed and confused and it’s here your journey begins.
You play as an Ark hunter, whose role is simple: scavenge the earth for Votan debris. Moments after you wake, you’re introduced to EGO which is like a hologram except she resides within you and only you can see and hear her, kind of like Al from Quantum Leap. She is a great help in the early parts of the game as she directs you to your waypoint and goal, plus explains things like shooting a weapon, arming a weapon, choosing a load out and more. It’s essentially a flashy tutorial but it works well and you’re not overloaded too early on which can be off-putting for many gamers. You’re not given much in terms of weaponry when you commence the game and are merely armed with a pistol, shield and shotgun. Of course more weapons will become available in the not too distant future.
The planet you’re spacecraft has crash landed on is certainly hostile toward you and your team and your objective is to stay alive and find out what on earth is going on. You’ll be sent on many missions involving kill and destroy, to collect this and find this person etc. Defiance’s story missions are too few and far between with some mindless missions that have you wandering the earth for hours on end, however this is a MMO so expect that of course. The story in all honesty is quite thin, with little information as to whom you are, why you’re on a space craft, who the races are, why they want you dead etc. So many questions, it feels like a block of Swiss cheese, and that’s not good for any game especially a new IP.
As with all MMO’s the key is to levelling up your character, and you do this by collecting EGO. EGO is Defiance’s substitute for the traditional levelling system. In addition you can also level up your weapon perks and choose new and exciting load outs for your character. There are also four powers that you can have active at one time as well. Load outs are important especially when each load out can affect your character. Given I like to play as an all our shooter, run and gun all the way home, I focused more on selecting shotguns and heavy machineguns. However, you can also change your load out to that of say a healer and equip a beam weapon to heal your teammates. So be sure to assess your play style and equip your character accordingly.
Another important point that I must mention was in regards to the amount of patches required. I had to install four patches while sitting on the game welcome screen for over two hours. This is not something Xbox 360 gamers have ever had to endure, nor should they. This is a console game, not a PC title and all updates should be contained to the start-up of the game and be short or at least an optional download. There is nothing worse than having a new game and being forced to wait hours before it will allow you to play. Not cool.
Graphics & Visuals
Graphically Defiance is fine, however cut scenes seemed like they could have used a few more polygons as the facial animations and voice synching were all over the place. Also, there were many occurrences during the game where I encountered big drops in the games frame rate. There were also noticeable levels of lag as well, and was particularly noticeable when shooting an enemy. You’d shoot them at point blank range, wait half a second and then watch your enemy fly backwards as he is shot. I felt like I was playing Gears of War 1 on a laggy international connection.
Personally MMO’s are not my favourite genre of game to play, however that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy some World Of Warcraft from time to time. However, Defiance failed to capture me from a story perspective which is disappointing as I never felt anything towards the characters nor even the world I was thrust into. Building a solid story is key to engaging a gamer, and in all honesty without a solid draw card, Defiance had failed to draw me in and keep me engaged. Defiance is a fun title that will provide you with some entertainment, but for veteran MMO fans, this is one you’ll certainly want to give a miss.