|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NoWay Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Graffiti Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 11, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
February 5, 2009 - First-person shooters are a very rare commodity on the Nintendo DS - maybe it's because the system doesn't ideally reproduce realistic visuals, or maybe it's due to the DS's association with children and casual play. Whatever the reason, core players have rarely been treated to the genre most often associated with them. It seems NoWay Studio and Graffiti Entertainment have taken this to heart - going so far as to name their latest FPS offering C.O.R.E.
In the same ilk as the recently released Moon, C.O.R.E. is a futuristic complex-crawler. Set in 2050, players will plod through a top-secret government facility, dealing with hordes of baddies along the way. This facility was constructed over a strange, blue meteorite that landed in North America in 2028. This research station conducted experiments for a full 20 years before anything out of the ordinary began to crop up. However, communication with the hub has now been lost, and you are part of a U.S. Marines force trying to reestablish contact and ascertain what has happened. As you make your way through the sprawling levels, it becomes clear that something went very wrong and that the isolated marines, scientists, and commanders have all gone mad.
Like the majority of FPS on DS, C.O.R.E. uses the touch-screen and stylus much like a PC uses a mouse. This set up allows for pinpoint accuracy and is a rather satisfying scheme. Also, players will use the touch-screen for sliding access cards to unlock doors, pecking out codes, double-tapping to jump, and using computer terminals. Unfortunately, the all-too-familiar cramp-factor found in titles such as Metroid Prime: Hunters is ever-present - I found it difficult to play for more than one hour at a time. Also, I found accessing the crouch button and alternate fire function to be difficult, because they are located on the same side as your stylus hand. As such, it looks like C.O.R.E. may suffer from the typical FPS control foibles that confound the DS. However, we'll have to wait and see what the devs throw at us when the final retail version releases in mid-March. After all, the devs have already included nice options such as the ability to change the reticule icons, flip-flop the controls depending on your dominant hand, and even invert the camera controls.
As of right now, C.O.R.E. seems to be a classic FPS, very similar to gameplay found in the original DOOM - complete with red key cards and all! Players will make their way through the labyrinthine corridors, blasting at AWOL marines, mindless sentry drones, mad scientists, and horrible mutants. These enemies get progressively more difficult as you advance, being outfitted with ever-more-dangerous equipment and greater stamina. After blasting through these minion rabbles, players will eventually confront key-toting bosses that must be defeated in order to advance in both the complex and the story.
Graciously, players will find a bevy of weapons to help them out with the enemies that thwart their advance. Gamers will start out with access to a handgun with unlimited ammo and an automatic assault rifle with a high rate of fire. However, weapons such as the shotgun, rocket launcher, and plasma rifle will be found on the charred, bloody corpses of fallen heroes. Using the entire arsenal at your disposal will be crucial to your success in C.O.R.E.
Managing the amount of ammo you use and your health and shield gauges seems to be an important part of C.O.R.E. There are limited ammo dumps, health kits, and recharge stations, and I found being frugal with these resources to be both enjoyable and challenging. Thankfully, the devs seem to have put a sufficient - though somewhat scarce - amount of save rooms and goodies to keep you going without stopping. We will have to see if this remains true, however, when players unlock the last levels in the final version of the game.
Interestingly enough, C.O.R.E. also will provide us with a multiplayer feature. Using the Nintendo DS's wi-fi capabilities, up to four players can duke it out in Deathmatch, Team Arena, or CTF modes. The best thing about multiplayer is that only one cart is necessary to play, as DS Download Play is supported.
The preview code we received looks to be close to completion, though it still has a few problems I would like to see cleaned up. However, we'll wait to give final judgment on the title when it hits store shelves. Nevertheless, C.O.R.E. looks to bring a mature audience some run-and-gun goodness to the DS - a system that is sorely in need of more edgy content. While it may not drag players away from their console shooter, it may just be the perfect solution to getting their fix while on the go.
CCC Editor / News Director