Defiance is set on a future Earth that has seen the arrival of the Votan alien race. Despite the intro saying the Votans’ arrival was more immigration than invasion, Earth was plagued by wars between humans and Votans almost from the moment they arrived. In the game you play as an Ark Hunter, someone who searches for valuable Votan relics that fall to the Earth when derelict Votan ships crash-land. You’re on your way to San Francisco as part of a military operation when your ship is shot down. Lucky to survive you find yourself in the midst of a hostile environment home to hellbugs, cyborgs, mutants and crazy gangs. Welcome to Defiance!
The first thing you do in the game is create a character, but the options here are surprisingly sparse. You can choose to be human or Irathient, male or female. There are no classes really, though you can choose from one of four ‘origins’. Apart from the clothes there’s no noticeable difference between the four origins. Every character can use any weapon they find in the world, and no origin is more adept with any weapon than the other origins. It’s all a bit disappointing really.
The next step is to choose one of four EGO powers; cloak, overcharge, decoy and blur. With cloak enabled you’re invisible (unless you start shooting or interacting with mission objectives), allowing you to sneak up on enemies. Decoy does just what you’d expect, distracting enemies with a projection of yourself. Overcharge makes your weapons significantly more powerful for a short time, while blur increases your characters’ speed and melee strength.
As you level up you earn an EGO point that can be used to improve your EGO power, or to unlock new perks. Perks do things like reduce the cooldown time of your EGO powers, or give you attack boosts when certain criteria is meet, e.g. enemies are below you, your shields are down or you’re attacking from behind. Initially you can equip three perks, but this number increases as you level up.
The multiplayer missions come in both co-op and competitive varieties. The co-op missions I played basically involved exploring a linear area such as an underground bunker, destroying any and all hostiles you come across. There are snippets of story here, but you’ll probably skip them to keep the action flowing. There’s often a boss at the end of the area just to spice things up. The competitive missions are mostly team deathmatches. They’re good fun, but not as polished as other offerings out there, and thus are unlikely to keep you coming back too often.
There’s one other mission type I’ve neglected to mention yet, and that is Arkfalls. These missions are open to all players and offer up valuable gear and big experience bonuses to those who take part. Arkfalls occur when massive chunks of alien ships come crashing down. These crash landings bring just as many alien enemies as they do Ark Hunters looking to make their fortune, so a large-scale battle ensues.
My biggest complaint is the lack of variety in missions, particularly the story missions. These usually involve heading to an area and clearing out the enemies. Next you have to flick a number of switches (four is often the magic number), with more hostiles appearing every time you flick a switch. Once you’ve flicked all the switches you have to defend the area from yet more hostiles for a set period of time. After a while this setup is extremely dull. Yes it’s a shooter, but to defeat six or more waves of the same enemies on every mission quickly wears thin.
This is exacerbated by the enemies, who, while not especially smart, have unerring aim even at great distance. Defiance generally doesn’t make enemies tough to dispatch, but what it does is unleash so many enemies at a time (8-10 in many cases) that you can’t take them on head-on without dying multiple times thanks to their precision targeting. Instead you have to run around, separate enemies from the group and then pick them off. In moderation this is fine, but this happens non-stop from the early missions to the very end.
When you put all of that together – repetitive missions, having to use the same tactics in most missions and not getting interesting weapons (or perks) as a reward… Well after a while I found it hard to keep going.
Visually Defiance isn’t too bad, bearing in mind it’s an MMO with a huge game world. Set in an obviously war-torn section of the North-West USA you’ll see destruction aplenty with broken roads, bridges and burnt out cars littering the environment. The crash –site where you begin the game also has smashed and burnt trees, not to mention explosions and thick black smoke aplenty. Later you’ll come across warped and mutated plants growing out of otherwise healthy grassy hills. It’s a believable game-world, though by no means a great-looking one.
As far as the sound goes it’s not too bad. Music is kept to a minimum but during idle moments you can hear it playing, sometimes tense, sometimes peaceful. The sound effects work well, with different weapons sounding significantly different depending on how much power they pack. The voice-acting is a little wooden, but not bad enough to detract from the action.
Personally I’m a little down on Defiance – there just isn’t enough variety in missions, and there’s a distinct lack of kick-ass weapons and perks to keep my interest sustained. On the other hand Defiance is a fairly functional third-person shooter, and there is a stack of content here if you think this is your kind of game. If you are interested in playing a third-person MMO Defiance is worth checking out, but don’t expect anything revolutionary or particularly exciting here.
Review By: Mike Allison