I try my best to steer clear of franchise games. In truth, Injustice and Arkham are the only two games I feel have any real merit. So when I heard about the show Defiance and learned they would also be putting out a game, I initially opted to pass on it. And it would have remained that way, but as it is with most games I'm on the fence about, I was lured into the demo world once more. It's free; no regrets.
I half expected to turn it off within the first ten minutes. Sorry but I still have lingering annoyance from MAG and I know I'm not the only one. So when I learned that Defiance was relying strongly on an MMO structure, I sat back-entirely prepared to lazily drift through the beginning and give it a chance; prove I'm not just a jaded cynic.
Ten minutes was all it took. Not to turn it off, mind you. It took that much time to get me sucked in. It started with the free reign I was given to build my character. Even the most popular in the genre like Warcraft and DC Universe don't have these many options. I picked race, facial structure, hair style, tattoos and a plethora of other options-reminiscent of the days when Smackdown was still original and exciting. I could have easily spent an hour creating the perfect character, but I didn't. Defiance actually had potential and I wasn't going to waste what little free time I had picking out the best tattoo.
I wanted to play.
Thankfully, Defiance spends very little time with introductions. Maybe that's the point though. They spend very little time explaining the futuristic civil-warred world you live in, minus a wordy text ramble whoosing by way too fast as the game loads for the first time. Later in cut-scenes you start to see even bigger holes. It seems like only a teaser-a very valiant gamble that you'll be so interested in the game that you'll end up watching the show in order to fill in the gaps.
It's a minor annoyance in truth, because Defiance isn't a game that depends on deeply rooted lore or intertwining storylines in order to engaging. I was a mercenary. That's all they really told me, but all I needed to know.
My plane crashed in the first two minutes and I'm thrust into a cold world, alone and virtually unarmed. It was then I was introduced to my EGO-a cybernetic hologram that serves as a guide and motivator, but carries with it additional perks. It was a matter of seconds before I was attacked. I plowed demonic crab-like creatures and drilled through gun totting mutants all to escape the crash site and begin the search for other survivors and eventually my contractor.
When the last enemy fell I had earned enough to boost my level, and with it came the thing that made me truly addicted to Defiance: upgrades. Like Warcraft, Defiance has a boost system with four primary powers, and sub add-ons to be earned later. The intro serves as a tutorial and opens all four-super speed, invisibility, decoy and increased firepower-to give you a feel for how each work, allowing you to choose the best option. You can only choose one, but each has specific powers that will help you through the game-anywhere from doing more damage when you're prone, increasing the chances of a dropped item or even dishing out ammo if you land a critical kill. The initial entertainment most lovers of any MMO will find is in character building; unlocking new boosts.
And Defiance gives you every opportunity to gain as much as you like. Because, see, as much as I would like to call it a Massive FPS that's only a small part of it. A good portion of the game is sand box, giving gamers a list of other things to do aside from the main story line like racing, time trials, small rescue missions. All of it takes place in an apocalyptic universe in the same style of Borderlands and Fallout. Enemies are everywhere and experience points are easily found, no matter what you opt to do. Controls are simple; the interface is easy. I think this is the first shooter I've played in a long time that comes with an automatic targeting system. Cooldowns are quick and the list of fire power is massive, giving both snipers and run-and-gunners plenty of options.
All of this doesn't distract from Defiance's main selling point, though. Rather, it supplements it. Let me just put it simply: it's huge. Dare I even say as large as WoW in its beginning years. The difference here is that this game is strongly relying on the co-op factor. Dozens, even hundreds , of people can occupy the world at any given time. Players you don't even know can enter a mission, or plow through you with their vehicle and never hurt you. If a requirement is to download Intel, rescue a fallen soldier or clear out a base full of enemies and someone beats you to it, you still get the credit so long as you remain in the area. Some areas are so overwhelming that you have no choice but to wait for another person to enter in and help you out. All of it is designed as an all too often, unspoken bond between you and the other gamers in the world of Defiance. Each and every one of you has a goal and there is no deduction if someone else lends a hand. You still garner the same amount of xp and still reap the same rewards.
But therein lies Defiance greatest flaw. It all came about too quick and I don't think Trion prepared for the game to be as huge as it initially was. I played it within the first few days and the bugs were overwhelming-minor annoyances like typos and glitches that would mute the sound at random times, to deal-breaking occurrences where I became locked in a wall or stuck on a ladder with no option other than turn off and start over. If the servers are down, you can't play and during the first couple weeks it seemed that every day required them to do maintenance. And given that I rented the game, I felt a little betrayed. I eventually got over it though. They were quick to patch and that's impressive, when you consider the fact that Defiance doesn't require any monthly fees or subscriptions. The only thing you'll ever have to pay for outside of game price are add-ons and perks like additional money and items.
It's going to stay that way, at least for now. Defiance is growing; more and more people are learning just what an incredible game this is and becoming addicted to an MMO that focuses and encourages co-op not combat, gives a massive world to every player, unique powers to unlock and countless incentives to come back every day. I would know. I'm one of them.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.
About the Author: Greg Knoll
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