- Refreshing to see a new competitive FPS game
- Fast-paced action with simple controls for ease of play
- Built-in map editor
- Different game modes may not provide enough variety, introducing repetitiveness
- Perhaps too eSports orientated
- May feel daunting at first in what you need to do in each games mode
ShootMania Storm is an action-fest FPS game, with more than a hint of eSports in its belly. Nadeo has stripped down the FPS genre to its bare bones and added a highly competitive framework around it. To play is simple, in fact it is hard to not notice the lack of keys required to play. However, with multiple modes of play this could be reminiscent to combative FPS days of yore.
After a few minutes of play, it is immediately clear we are looking at a healthy recreation of the mechanics we know and love from Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena. There are plenty of jump pads and speed boosts dotted around the arenas, which were things that I Ioved in Q3A. But ShootMania reduces your player to a single weapon and simple actions; jump and sprint. It is so bare metal, that the jump and sprint is assigned to a single keybind, so you cannot run without jumping… unless you hit certain areas that disallow jump. With this, the playing field is wholly level, no single person has more armour or better weapons which makes the entire experience down to pure skill.
There are several modes of play, and they vary considerably. Royal is a last man standing game, with points given to kills and capturing the pole. This mode is classed as standard deathmatch. Battle is the team version of this, whereby you capture poles dotted around the arena and also defend them from the opposing team. Elite has an interesting twist; a team of three either attacks or defends; the attacking team only has one player participating, with the objective to eliminate all three defenders or capture a point. The downside is that if you are on the attacking side, two players will be forced to observe the proceeds but it does make for some fun viewing. Joust is 1v1 and you start with no ammo. Recharging one’s ammo requires reaching one of the poles placed at opposite ends of the map, but only one pole can be used to recharge at any one time. Being in such a confined space gives a sense of survival and urgency, with frantic rushes back and forth as you keep a watchful eye on your reserves. Out of all the modes available, Royal and Battle will be familiar to most while Elite and Joust have a much more competitive edge to them. Strangely, the odd thing that occurs in Royal is respawns. Generally once you die, you stay dead. However, there have been times when I respawned and I was thrown back into the game. I’m unsure of when I do or do not get a respawn, it seems you can respawn if you die within a certain time but what with the fast-paced nature of the game, it is unknown to me when that is without clock watching.
What is important to success, is the use of three dimensional space. There’s a lot of running and jumping, rebounding off walls for you to land in a full sprint. Knowing the space around you is key to where you should be jumping to, or where someone might go. There is no map overlay and there is a distinct advantage to those that know the arena in comparison to those that don’t. Since your weapon has limited shots before a cooldown recharge kicks in and because players are constantly moving, you are more inclined to lead your target to aim ahead of them. It is extremely satisfying to see someone get caught in your fire, in an area they thought was safe. With the popularity of sister franchise TrackMania, it is safe to assume that ShootMania may follow in similar popularity.
But there is one drawback to a game so evidently geared towards eSports. It may not appeal to casual players who may want to drop in and out without getting repeatedly spanked by experienced players. Although practice does make perfect, depending on who is on the server at the time, the difficulty increases dramatically when faced with veteran ShootManians. That is not to say you cannot succeed as a newbie, but your first impressions of the game may vary depending on this. And for some reason, it feels like a F2P game instead of one costing £15. Although this will not break the bank, it perhaps may increase public adoption if it was free to play.
As much as I enjoyed playing, there was a strange graphical hitch that refused to go away. In full screen mode, the game flickers to black and back again repeatedly. Turning on VSync in the game or in the graphics drivers did not help, neither did changing the resolution and detail or downgrading drivers. Not being fond of headache inducing epileptic fits, the only remedy I could find was to run the game in Windowed mode. Unfortunately, I then lose 20 frames per second which is hardly acceptable. It’s a strange problem and one that others have also experienced when trawling through forums. It could be my particular setup with the NVIDIA GTX 690 graphics card, but it is odd considering other games that are much more graphically intensive can run fine. My hope is that a patch is introduced that can iron out these problems. What I did get round to playing with during this time is the built-in editor, which allows you to create maps of your own and encourages user content which is a big thumbs up.
There hasn’t been that many games that can steal the competitive FPS crown from the likes of UT and Q3A, but I believe this comes rather close. The multitude of game modes encourages gaming longevity and rarely do multiplayer games provide you with the same stats and armoury as everyone else. But there is a feeling that it may not be as fun as it can be, leaning too much towards competitiveness and some may not appreciate the single weapon. But with persistence, the time you put into practice and honing your skills reap satisfying rewards. You will be loathed on a server that regularly sees you commit genocide on your digital enemies, but you will also have full bragging rights. ShootMania Storm is out now on Steam.