Defiance Our Impressions

Defiance is TrionWorlds new Third Person Shooter MMO…

Defiance has been out for a little while now which has allowed us to play the game since various patches have been applied. It’s safe to say that now the experience is pretty robust and consistent. So let’s discuss and break down the experience we have enjoyed thus far!

Firstly, we have been playing the PS3 version and we can’t vouch for how the Xbox or PC version performs. In addition whichever edition you boot up, be prepared as you should expect multiple updates and patches when you first put the game into the machine. It’s an MMO and these patches are ongoing, so be prepared. This isn’t a problem with the game, but the genre, and as this game is designed to reach out to those who have never played an MMO it’s something be aware of. We are not discussing small updates, as with Battlefield or Black Ops, but large downloads. Those of you with fast broadband or fibre will be fine of course.

The game itself is set in a universe, which is also currently being explored in a new SyFy tv series. It’s set on Earth after a a devastating war between Humans and Invading/immigrating aliens. There is now a basic truce between the alien and human survivors. The two story arches overlap to some degree and events in the game can affect the outcome of the tv series. For example there will be missions in the game featuring characters from the TV show, and sometimes there will be events in the game which can effect the show’s story line. Your character could even end up featuring in the show based upon your actions in the game. However as the game is in the San Francisco bay area and the tv show in St Louis, there is only so much one can affect the other.

So now to the actual game itself. Lets break it down in parts. The game plays as a third person shooter. So is it a GOOD third person shooter? Well, firstly there is no cover system, as in Gears of War or Uncharted. What there is though, is a nice crouch dynamic and a landscape is full of cover, hills, rocks and buildings. Hiding behind them or under the crest of a hill really will allow you to avoid taking damage. The shooting itself is satisfying, and there is a huge range of weapons to utilise.

There are vehicles too, which you’ll need as the gameworld is pretty huge. You can call them at will, and they appear out of nowhere, like a mount in World of Warcraft. The vehicle’s controls are little wonky as far as I’m concerned. They are not broken though, and they will probably be improved with patches as time goes on. Movement on foot is fine, and you can sprint at a fair pace (faster if using some of the ‘EGO’ enhancements), however it is strange that you can fall from any hight and not take any damage. This breaks the ‘real world’ feel a little and takes you out of the game.

Missions vary, but generally involve going from point A to point B, securing a location by killing anything in site, and then holding down the square button over an object to fix it, open it, close it, switch it on etc. However, the missions in Defiance are there to allow you to level up, explore the world and more importantly expose more of the story. Remember this is a game with a strong narrative, alongside it’s TV relative, and the missions are there to allow you to progress through the story arc, timelines and character relationships.

You can customise your character by choosing from a range of classes. In addition you can choose certain ‘powers’, such as speed and cloaking amongst others. As you progress you can enhance and unlock more powers by utilising the skill tree. As you progress through the game you’ll get loot, and weapons. Shields, guns (lots of guns – it’s a bit like Borderlands in that respect) all of which encourage you to play that little bit more, and carry out one more mission.

There is a PVP mode. It’s like a discrete competitive multi-player mode. There is a domination mode alongside a team deathmatch type experience. Both are worth checking out, and as the computer AI is generally quite weak (with the game utilising swarming as a way of upping the challenge) it makes a nice change of pace fighting other people.

The main game features many co-op levels, and co-op in this game works very organically. For sure you can join a guild/clan, and plan and help each other. However, you can also just tag along to events happening around you, the most thrilling being when an ‘arkfall’ event takes place. This is when a kind of power source falls from the heavens triggering an intense battle between the players and mutant alien creatures. Should you stumble across one of these you’ll be sure to find many other players at the same point, working together.

Visually the game is nothing special. In many respects one feels that this is a game which would really benefit from the ‘next gen’ consoles. The graphics though are serviceable, and the cut scenes good enough to convey the story, alongside some decent voice acting. The weak link with the voice acting is your ‘AI companion’ EGO who is a pain in the butt, and ranks alongside Jar Jar Binks as the most annoying fictional character ever.

For those who have always wanted to play a MMO, but just couldn’t hack how MMOs played, this is a great, vast story driven game which is a blast to play. It’s not particularly excellent in any area, gameplay, graphics, sound etc but it manages to draw you in. Watch the tv show, either weekly, or the opening two parter (which was free on PSN at the time of writing) and it’ll help create a nice backstory and add atmosphere to the events in the game. DCUO promised a degree of third person action, set in a MMO framwork on consoles (well on the PS3), but it still largely had traditional MMO fighting and controls. Defiance makes you feel that you are winning and losing due to your shooting skills with the powers and enhancements being just that – enhancements. They don’t swing the game too much in the favour of someone with 100 hours in the game. Even a newbie can join in and make a difference, or compete in PVP without feeling that they have to do another 30 hours of grinding before they can join in.

All in all I’ve enjoyed Defiance, and will stick with the game. I’ll want to level out the character and see how the story develops. It’s not game of the year, but it’s something I can sink my teeth into and feel I’m being rewarded for the time I put in. We recommend Defiance if you like sci-fi, shooting and have always fancied playing an MMO but just couldn’t put up with the controls and grinding.