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Defiance (PC/360/PS3) Review

Written by Jazzking2001 - Owner on . Posted in Video Games

What do you get when you add 7 alien species, collectively known as Votans, onto an already overpopulated earth? Just to make things more interesting, throw in any accidently released alien terraforming technology, known as Arks, which have haphazardly and radically changed both the earth's biospheres and geology? The answer is simple; you get a video game and a TV-show crossover series, known as Defiance.

The story of Defiance is not your standard, cut and dry alien story in which there is an intended invasion of earth. Have you heard of the saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." This saying is perfect when defining the world of Defiance. The original intent of the aliens was simple to find a new home world, after their former star system was destroyed.

However, after 6 years of negotiations, a war between the two species eventually broke out. The war lasted several decades but ended at the Battle of Defiance, which occurred in San Francisco. The story takes place several years after this final battle. Players take the role of "Ark Hunters" who are hired by Karl Von Bach (CEO of Von Bach Industries) to travel to the Bay Area. The job of "Ark Hunters" is to search for advanced and expensive alien technology.

It's now time to talk about the various types of enemies you will face while playing Defiance. Currently there are 5 enemy types: Mutants, Hellbugs, Raiders, 99ers and the Scrappers. The Mutants were once Human soldiers, scientists and powerful Bio-Marines who have mutated. Hellbugs are fast-moving non-pedal creatures, with a hard outer shell, who were created as a result of the terraforming that occurred.

The Raiders are a group of scavengers and cannibals, comprised of various races, who operate on the borders of this new world. The 99ers are cyborg beings who were once human that decided to give up humanity in their pursuit of productivity and the acquirement of gulanite and other minerals. Finally, the Scrappers are a race of hostile, somewhat intelligent, robots who live in the Bay Area.

Like any MMO, there are a variety of initial choices you much make before you start. First off, you must decide both your gender and race; male or female, human or alien? In additional, you are able to customize your character to your own liking. Unlike other MMOs, you do not select your class; be it healer or mage, but instead you are choosing your “origin”. Origin does not affect what abilities, weapons or player outfits you are able to use.

The next decision you much decide is what EGO power you will start off with. EGO or Environmental Guardian Online which is a symbiotic, neuro-muscular bionetic implant developed by Von Bach Industries. EGO is what helps players navigate the Bay Area and gives them access to unique abilities.

You have 4 initial EGO abilities to choose from. Will you go with cloaking, decoy, overcharge or blur ability? As the name suggests, cloaking allows you to become invisible for a short amount of time. Decoy allows you to create a holographic copy of yourself which shows up in front of you and distracts enemies to firing at the hologram instead of you. Overcharging is used to increase weapon damage. Lastly, blur makes your superfast, so that you can dodge enemy fire and melee attack them.

As previously mentioned, you initially pick your starting ability. You need not worry too much whether you picked a good ability or not. The reason is that all four of the initial starting abilities are shown on a grid system, known as EGO grid. As you level, the grid system allows you to eventually unlock some of the other stating abilities. The grid system itself has around 50 or so abilities, I did not count them, which in turn can be upgraded 4 or 5 times. It is up to you whether you want to unlock new abilities or to upgrade an existing ability.

The graphics are downright awesome and you sometimes cannot believe what you are seeing. The trees look like trees; grass looks like it should be, thanks to great attention to color detail. Of course, there are tons of vegetation and creatures that no present day humans can recognize. As such, I will simply say that both these unknown plants and animals also look good.

I like that your custom designed character is actually included in the great looking and sounding cut-scenes. The sounds and lip-sync of the voice acting is great but I am disappointed that your character does not speak. I truly hate it when games allow you to make your own character but do not give them any sort of voice. Anyway, the various clothing, equipment, powers that you have at your fingertips also look very realistic. Throughout the game, you are aided by the hologram known as EGO, Environmental Guardian Online. The EGO hologram looks very lifelike and I do not mind getting help from her, I mean it.

The gameplay is pretty is straightforward, and at this time I have no issues thus far. This may sound stupid but the enemy is pretty smart, I do not know why this surprised me. When I fired my first shot at an enemy unit, the enemy I fired upon came running towards me. On a side not, it takes multiple shots to kill enemies. Quite often, in several games I have previously played, the enemy just randomly stands in place and does not return fire when fired upon. Once you have cleared a given area, you are able to pick up money and other loot.

Another very important aspect of any MMO is how travel is accomplished. Travel is so important because unlike other game genres, MMOs are so massive. In Defiance, you are able to travel in a variety of ways. The first, most basic way, is that you can simply walk wherever you want. The second way is by using vehicles. Defiance offers a variety of vehicles: ATVs, Dodge Challenger, and several others. The final, most advanced way, is via the use of a "teleporter" like device which are scattered around the world.

To add even more incentive to explore the world of Defiance, you are able to participate in the Ark Hunter rewards program. This allows you to improve and increase your chances of survival. How do you do that? Simple; you collect Arkfall codes which are scatted across game intel material. Once you find the codes, you enter the codes to unlock multiple rewards as you level up.

    My EGO: Press Here - This link, the official website link, is where you enter the codes you find to get rewards.
      Update: All of the codes have been unlocked prior to the game being released. There are a total of 120 codes that will provide various unlocks. It should take 10 to 30 minutes to input the various codes. It is worth your time using these codes because the rewards are worth it.
    Arkfall codes list: Press Here - The link shows the various coded and rewards you can unlock.
Unlike most MMOs, the user HUD is often overcrowded with countless pointless windows. The HUD you use here is perfect with just the right amount of windows showing; health, powers, ammo, area map and current mission objective. You are still able to bring up other windows by pressing a few buttons. The menu bar, pressing ESC button, is easy to navigate. The menu bar included every piece of information that you will need.

The biggest complaint I have is with the PC version’s menu bar. It was not as simple as simply pressing ESC and exiting the game. Instead, I had to go through a number of menus to exit the game. I spent the majority of my time on the PS3 version of the game. I did not have the menu complaint that I had with the PC.

It took some time to get to this point but I will finally talk about how the game ties into the TV-show, with the same name. The events of one will impact the events of another. Thanks to a Gamesindustry.biz interview, I am able to get perfect example of this directly from the horse’s mouth. Nick Beliaeff, senior vice president of development for Trion Worlds, stated the following;

    "In one of the episodes of the show, we have an Indogene doctor who figures out there's this nanite contagion spreading and it could doom the town,"

    Beliaeff said.

    "So she reaches out to her counterpart in the game in San Francisco and now the players in the game have a series of missions that they can fulfill, getting reagents an trying to help the doctor in San Francisco create the cure. The time pressure on the players is they need to do it before next week's episode airs."

    What happens if the players fail?

    "You should watch the next week's episode and see"

    Beliaeff laughs.

    "We have our plans; how this goes forward and how this works, we have it closely choreographed. We feel very confident in our plans and whether you're a fan of the show or the game you're going to be satisfied with the outcome."

Defiance does not do anything truly different to the gameplay aspect but it does raise the bar when the story crosses between the MMO and the TV-show. Without a doubt, Defiance will be looked upon as a title that should be used as a starting point for what both future game and series tie-ins should strive to be. Regardless of whether you are a expert or novice MMO player, Defiance is definitely worth trying.

9.5/10