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Anthony Ford Posted:
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Repulse, a new online first-person shooter by Aeria Games, has had a fair amount of time in development to work on bugs, and has been released on February 1, 2012.  To that point I was able to spend some time in the closed beta, and in the subsequent open beta, to participate in the game and offer some information on what promises to be an entertaining (and to many players, familiar) trip into the old school-style pastime of fragging.

If you have a hankering to participate in mindless online violence, this game should be right up your alley, although my personal take on it is that there is not a lot that’s new about it – it takes me back about ten years or so.

Look familiar? Unreal Tournament FTW!

The game is very reminiscent of the old shooter, Unreal Tournament, both in feel and in action.  It offers three player settings: Assault, Sniper and Engineer, each of which you can assign specific weapons and items appropriate for that class. One of the extremely helpful things you can do with these classes is switch between them as needed for the current situation by choosing between the F1, F2 and F3 keys – in short, you aren’t stuck with one player and one load-out;  if it’s to your advantage to suddenly be a sniper, with the press of a button you can suddenly be one.

While in the classic FPS mode there are certain abilities that are not available to the player, in the action mode a number of interesting things are added, such as wall jump and cloaking (using certain body suits).  There are a number of armor selections that you can choose from (provided that you have the funds available) as well as a large assortment of weaponry and helmets, each with different specs, which hopefully helps you fine-tune your character as much as possible.

You will find much that reminds you of the good old FPS games you grew to love (if you’re old enough that is).  Different game modes such as Assault, Death Match and Capture the Flag are the same basic operations featured in a lot of games from way back when.  You won’t find a lot of surprises here, and I didn’t see any way (so far) where you could customize your player’s speech and sentences, but perhaps I either missed that or it will be a possibility as the game continues its development.  What I see now are automatic phrases like “I’m too handsome to die!”  I hear that one a lot, because it happens whenever someone frags me, which seems to be often with my 59-year-old reflexes.

Joining a match of your liking is easy, once you choose Action or Classic FPS, and either Pro or Rookie within those choices.  That brings you to a list of games – choose one that has some room with a format or map you like, double click on it, hit the green START button on the bottom right-hand corner and you’re loaded into the game. 

The action is fast, and it’s pretty tough to hide and snipe at people (I like camping in a good spot and picking people off, and this game makes it hard to do that).  If you manage to find a fruitful area, don’t stay there too long, because the guy you just snuffed is almost guaranteed to come back to where you are to see if he can get even.  It doesn’t seem to matter how secure your area is – someone seems to always end up behind you, and the next thing you know is that the room is spinning, and you’re yelling, once again, “I’m too handsome to die!”

The good points of this game for me are that it’s fast, and the controls are intuitive and there’s nothing new as far as a learning curve.  You can load up and run into a game almost as soon as you enter with little or no actual experience other than with first-person shooters in general.  It looks the same, it acts the same, and you’re good to go once you have your weapons of choice loaded on your character.

The rigs of today will easily be able to run Repulse.  The minimum requirements stated by the game include 4GB of hard drive space (it does warn you that it may take up to 5 GB of free space to allow you to download the installation program, temporary files and the final installation); memory requirements are modest, with 512 MB memory being the minimum, and 1GB or higher preferred.  For gamers ten years ago, these requirements would be huge; for today’s crowd they are considered fairly light, I would assume.  My machine can probably run a small airport, so I didn’t even look at these requirements other than to note them for this article, but for those who are on the edge, just be prepared.

Being an online game and free is a good thing.  If you want to get specific weaponry or backpacks, armor and helmets other than the standard load-out, you’re going to have to pay, which is to be expected.  I went ahead and spent $20.00 on their currency (Aeria Points) in order to at least have some good gear to get my sniper going. But you can see where this is going.  It’s free to play the game, but if you want to survive a little longer, and have a little more firepower and space in a backpack to store extra items, you’re going to have to cough up a little dinero.  And one more thing definitely worth mentioning:  the items you buy in the store are temporary, largely lasting from seven to fifteen days.  It’s understandable, but it remains to be seen whether or not this game is going to have enough attraction for the FPS crowd to draw a large number of players in to spend real money.  Let me elaborate…

Because I believe that the Unreal Tournament series has a good basis of comparison here, let me note that you can log in to an untold number of online games in even the ancient original Unreal Tournament.  Unreal Tournament 2004 offers additional types of games and vehicles, and Unreal Tournament 3 is playable on Steam.  In none of these games is it necessary, once you own the game, to purchase additional equipment to play competitively.  You find the weapons as you go, and no player has an advantage in armor class, nor can they achieve an advantage.  What you have is what you have, although you can boost your protection with armor or shield belts that you can occasionally find throughout any map.  Additionally, the maps are endless, many having been player-created, and the weaponry, which is around a dozen various items from a semi-automatic pistol (the “Enforcer” in  the original UT) to the Redeemer, which pretty much obliterates everyone in a square mile when it hits.

This isn’t an advertisement for the Unreal Tournament series, however, but a simple question:  if players are able to go online and frag people all day and all night and not spend any money other than for their internet connection, are they going to go in large numbers to play Repulse, which offers much less variety and costs real money to beef themselves up?

I like the speed of Repulse and the relative ease of joining a game of one’s choosing.  What a slow old guy like me doesn’t like, however, is that there is no option for offline play to practice maps against bots.  There are a limited number of maps in Repulse at present, true, but it does get a bit demoralizing trying to learn these maps while you’re constantly screaming and dying as you learn them.  Additionally ( and I am sure that there are a lot of FPS players who feel the same way), if you don’t want to spend your money on virtual items to help you keep from dying and to be more effective in fragging, you’re at a disadvantage when compared with players who do spend the money.

I like the game, if I can keep up.  It remains to be seen as to whether or not Repulse will be competitive with the FPS world at large.  If the numbers of maps increase, and perhaps the prices to purchase virtual weapons and armor decrease (or perhaps occasional lotteries or giveaways to lucky players may find their way into the game’s internet page), Repulse has good possibilities.  Right now, I am in a wait-and-see frame of mind where Repulse is concerned.


Anthony Ford