Review: Ravaged (PC)

Ravaged
Publisher: Reverb
Developer: 2 Dawn Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 10/17/2012

I mentioned in my Hands-On Preview for Ravaged that First Person Shooter (FPS) PVP multiplayer isn’t my thing anymore. I can deal with single player and co-op and can get into those pretty well, but my days of fragging in FPS were far over. Were being the operative word. The fast pace, vehicle options, and varying maps and objectives have me reassessing my love for the online FPS. Is Ravaged a fluke or something I’m getting back into again? That I can’t tell you. What I can tell you is that despite a few hangups, like personally not being able to fly a helicopter at all, I’m loving the hell out of Ravaged, and if you like insanity in your FPS, this is for you too. Let’s take a look.

As far as story goes there’s not much going on. The world has been thrown into chaos after weather has changed, water has receded, giant ice flows have occurred in some areas, and a group of Resistance has thrown itself against the Scavengers who are looking to make good on stealing the resources left for themselves. This very basic story idea drives everything in the game, from the way vehicles are designed to character looks and even the way the maps are laid out.

So let’s talk modes. It’s all online. There is no offline mode or a way to play against a buddy. This is all on their servers against anyone who hops on, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all as the game is definitely designed around running the best when you’re playing with about 20 people and up on a map. Sure you can play with fewer people, but on some of the larger maps, it feels stale and slows it down as you’re far less likely to run into another player as you’re running or driving around. On the other hand if you’re trying to master the helicopter, not having anyone else on the server to laugh at your negative score can be a major benefit.

There are two basic types of games to get involved with, a resource control that works like capture the flag with two variations and another that works like king of the hill which has you capturing bases and holding them under your team’s control until you either control them all or time runs out. Resource Control has one of two ways, one where the resource pops up in a central point between the two main bases that you have to grab and take back to your base to score, and the other where you have to invade enemy territory to grab their resource and hoof it back to your own base to score. Both of them end when a team hits eight captures or until time runs out. There is an overtime mode where you keep playing until a team captures one more resource than the other. This works the same whether you have vehicles or are moving on foot depending on map size.

Thrust, or as I called it, King of the Hill or camp control pits you against the other team trying to gain and keep control of various camps scattered around the map. This is the harder of the two game modes as camp control fluctuates rapidly as the teams swarm each other’s camps and there really is no be all and end all for class. This is all based on player skill with the controls and the team’s ability to work together to get through a horde of enemy players.

Built around the Unreal game engine, you pretty much known what to expect as far as effects go, and the game does these beautifully. The vehicles look like mods of existing stuff we have now. The Resistance obviously takes care of theirs a lot more than the Scavengers do, as their stuff looks like it’s falling apart. There is a very gritty feel to the look of the game and everything looks like it’s about ready to fall apart or is in the process of it. Some levels look a little better than others, but overall you won’t be admiring the scenery for too long until you’ve been wasted and are waiting for a respawn. While this won’t win for visuals of the year, they do the job and do it well.

There’s a thumping soundtrack going along with all the mayhem happening onscreen, but other than the loading menu theme I can’t tell you what they sound like. While it’s catchy it doesn’t stick with you, which isn’t that big of a deal. It does the job. The main voiceover during the match isn’t too bad, but his calls don’t always match up with what’s going on. Like in one match he yelled for us to get our resources because the enemy had them when we’d taken the enemies’ resources and were running them back to our base. Other than that he’s not too shabby as far as calling the matches. Vehicles and weapons sound decent enough and the rattle of gunfire and explosions around you besides the ones you’re causing help set the mood.

Controls are your basic WASD and mouse combination. Vehicles used the same basic idea with the mouse dealing with basic camera moves and steering with your A and D keys. Hitting the shift key throws on a speed bump to the vehicle. Only one of the ground vehicles has the option to fire while you’re driving, and that’s the SWAT vehicle that’s slower but more armored and can’t capture resources. Where it gets a little dicey is the helicopter. During your first jump in the cockpit, it will feel uncontrollable and you will crash. It’s a fact. It uses the mouse to control pitch and yaw and the regular vehicle controls for lift and thrust. To say the mouse controls are twitchy is an understatement, but if you make controlled and small moves the helicopter can move around the battlefield like a thing of beauty raining death on the nonbelievers below. In my hands it plummets like a great fiery ball of death. The helicopter being difficult to use is by choice. In the right hands it’s deadly on the battlefield. The same goes for the SWAT tank. It just takes a lot of patience to use the helicopter like that so it’s not going to be for everyone. Everything else works like you’d expect it otherwise.

The game is very team oriented as far as accomplishing a winning match. While they do keep track of kills and deaths, that won’t win you the match but will make you lead the points on your team, unless of course someone taps more camps or captures a bunch of resources. I’ve led my team doing nothing but capturing resources and staying alive while the enemy team leader had racked up 17 kills and no resource returns. If you want to win though, the key is definitely to work together. There’s actually a team chat channel only your team can see for that In the maps that don’t use vehicles much there is usually interesting terrain. Even in the Liberty map, while there are paths for vehicles, the fun part is taking a sniper on foot to claim the fallen Statue of Liberty’s torch as your perch to take out enemy troops trying to go for your camp. There’s a frozen map built around what look like a fresh glacier with a torn apart ship that has you running resources all around. There are lots of levels and nooks and crannies to maneuver around making that map a lot of fun to run just for the layout. Then there’s the oil rig where the only way to go is up and down, but there’s no water to break your fall if you leap from the top. There are a number of maps to break it up and the two game types to change things up a bit. Overall though it’s a FPS multiplayer built around two teams that’s very barebones and built to move fast.

Ravaged does come with a trophy system tied to Steam and a set of Leaderboards, so for the trophy hounds and people who want to be better than everyone else, there’s that going for it. The random seeding of maps and game types, while sometimes annoying, does keep a player on their toes and with a random crew and enemy group each time it’s a totally different experience each time. Now I have heard some complaining about the price, and I happen to think it’s a fair price, but with all those iOS and Android shooters sitting around $10 or lower, the $25 price tag might seem high. With so many maps and types to play through it’s not hard to rack up a number of hours before you get tired of playing. The other nice thing they’ve done is set it up so the live game players can jump into the demo matches so if you’re not seeing a server with a decent ping and a bunch of players you can hop in and show the people looking to buy how it’s done. If you’re looking for a balanced matchup you can pretty much toss that out the window. This is all skill based as far as playing and driving and you can swap teams pretty much at any time.

We’ve gotten a good run on the post-apocalyptic stuff lately. While it may not be a popular setting on film, gamers tend to lap it up. There isn’t a lot of new things here as far as setting goes. The level design and look, yes, but not the ideas. Other than how they handle vehicles and map design based around what’s available, you’re not going to find much new or game changing. It is solid and very playable and what someone would hope for from a multiplayer only FPS. While I wasn’t all that thrilled with the demo levels I got to play at first, much of that dropped away as more people got in on the demos and especially after getting to play with the devs. The game is a lot more fun when there are more people on and it’s much harder to turn it off when you’re on a rocking server with mayhem everywhere.

I think the hard part this game is going to have is that there are so many FPS games out there, and being only multiplayer, people might be hesitant to buy it. That and some upcoming title from Microsoft and Beyonce. This is on the PC, though, so for those of us who don’t stick to consoles this is a very good time and it’s priced pretty decently compared to some of the other multiplayer only titles I’ve bought over the years. This isn’t without its share of bugs and issues. I mentioned earlier the audio glitch where it seems like the match caller is reporting for the other team, but there are a few others. There’s the usual loading times for graphic assets from using the Unreal engine, which can’t be helped. There does seem to be a bit of a lag from when the results screen vanishes and the new map loads up, usually about 5 to 10 seconds, which can feel like an eternity. When you first load up the game and check your servers, the first time you refresh or re-order them won’t stick. So if you go in and order your servers by number of players, you can bet on the screen refreshing automatically at least once after that so you have to refresh it again. It feels a little clunky here.

I do have to say, for a first game from an indie studio made up of modders, this is a solid FPS mash-up that has a lot to offer. There have been other FPS games out there with vehicles, and yes we have a apocalyptic sci-fi shooter in Borderlands, but this is a bit different in that it brings it back in on PVP and multiplayer in those respects and while the system isn’t as deep and into unlocks, it does give a fast-paced experience that held my attention far more than I thought it would and I pop on for at least a match a day just to chill out a bit.

The Scores
Story/Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Good
Sound: Decent
Control and Gameplay:
Replayability: Good
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Great
Appeal Factor: Decent
Miscellaneous: Good
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
Ravaged fills a niche in my gaming library, dropping into a slot I didn’t know I needed filled. The fast-paced vehicular and FPS combat is highly satisfying, the clean and simple modes quite a bit of fun, and the fact it’s done by people who genuinely love the genre adds to it even more. While there are other FPS games coming out on the horizon I definitely think this is worth at least checking out the demo on and it’s a decent enough price for just multiplayer. Long and short, if you like FPS and blowing the crap out of other players give it a go.

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