|Release: April 10 , 2013|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
What comes to mind when you think of shooters? Gruff badasses crouching behind chest-high walls? Space marines shooting aliens in cramped corridors? Military men expatiating about how they have to shoot more brown people in order to save “the America?” Believe it or not, this wasn’t always what the shooter genre was like. There was a time when they were filled to the brim with low-gravity jumps, bullets that bounced off walls, and rail guns that fired lightning. It’s the spirit of that era that ShootMania Storm is looking to recapture.
If I had to compare ShootMania Storm to anything, I’d compare it to Unreal Tournament or Quake. It’s an arcade-style shooter that does away with all modern shooter conventions. Experience? Nah! Perks? Not in my house! Regenerating health? What are you, a pansy? In fact, ShootMania Storm doesn’t even fool around with ammo. The only thing limiting you is your gun’s fire rate and recharge time and your own, admittedly short, health bar. Get shot too many times and you are dead, pure and simple.
ShootMania Storm doesn’t even fool around with cover. Most of the maps are massive, wide open arenas where you can clearly see your opponents moving around. Sure, bullets stop when they hit a wall or pillar, but these environmental objects aren’t set up for you to hide behind. Instead, only your skill with strafing, your reliance on bunny hopping, and your surefire aim will save you. And that’s actually kind of refreshing.
There are even objects in the game that temporarily catapult you forward at super speed or fling you through the air at ludicrous heights. So even if you find a piece of cover, it’s not safe from the people who are low-grav jumping overhead. This game wants you to be out in the open, involved in intense firefights, and every aspect of it works toward pushing you into the fray.
Even the weapon design reinforces this arcadey kill-or-be-killed design. The basic gun is kind of like a rocket launcher with no AOE damage. It fires humongous, slow-moving energy shots that require you to hit your target square on in order to nab the kill. Using this gun requires a lot of aiming and leading rather than placing the crosshairs over someone and holding the fire button. Guns work on energy, not ammo, and your basic gun has four shots before it has to recharge. The only way to recharge your gun? Not shooting for a while. There isn’t any spray-and-pray here. Aim-down-sights? Aim-assist? Not on your life!
Of course, there are plenty of other weapons to fool around with as well, but you won’t be getting them when you spawn. You have to find them the old fashioned way, by searching through the map. Different special weapon platforms transform your normal gun into anything from a rail gun to a sniper rifle, allowing you to tear through the map with the greatest of ease.
Every character only has two HP, and getting hit by any bullet takes off one. There aren’t any medkits or ways to increase your HP; you only get one freebie before having to respawn (or be taken out of the game completely if you are playing in a permadeath mode.)
There are plenty of game modes to choose from in ShootMania Storm, and many are remixes of old favorites. For example, you can play in a free-for-all, last-man-standing mode where you struggle to be the final player alive. But to avoid a slow ending as both players run away from each other, instant-death barriers slowly close in from the outer boundaries of the map. Genius! You can play in attack/defense mode, except the attackers have one-way speed boosts, allowing them to catch up to the action quicker and keep the pressure on.
Maps are quite big in ShootMania Storm, but you are never left wandering around aimlessly looking for an opponent to shoot. This is partially because movement is so quick in the game. Characters speed around the map, even without boosts, and jumps cause your character to cover obscene distances at once. That being said, you can easily change direction and stop on a dime if you choose. The controls are extremely tight, and they need to be for a game that is so based on skill and twitch reflexes.