TerraWars: NY Invasion Review
By Chad Montague |
Terra Wars puts you in the shoes of John Armstrong, a medical student reservist in the National Guard. John is tasked with battling an alien invasion in NY after his squad gets wiped out. It's never explained why this random medical student is at the center of this disaster, and he offers no opinion as to what's going on. But before you know it you're blasting those aliens back to . . . well, wherever they came from. This game doesn't really have a story. The aliens remain a mystery on nearly all levels. It's only clear that NY has been invaded by vicious, faceless aliens, and it's your job to blow 'em to bits.
After a quick introductory session good only for demonstrating the inept squad AI and borrowed War of the Worlds designs, the player takes charge of Armstrong for an intro to controls, and a bit of aimless wandering.
Soon enough you're blasting aliens with a wide array of weapons - most of which are relatively inconsequential. There are many levels in this game and while some of them may warrant the use of the zoom on the sniper rifle, it's easy to get by with nearly exclusive use of the M4. You can also upgrade weapons with vials of goo dropped by enemies called "Biomatter". It's basic, but it works. The gunplay lacks depth, and is as simple as pointing and shooting.
It's also worth noting the game's use of heavy scripting. It's easy to predict when and where things are going to pop out so gameplay becomes a chore - there's no real strategy and the AI is practically non-existent. The aliens will fire at you blindly, charge, and in what I'm guessing is some semblance of an evasion move, they'll do a little shuffle step. The animations are so stiff it looks more like they're doing the Thriller dance than any natural motion.
The game's missions include poorly presented objectives which are irrelevant, in any case, as the game only requires blasting a way through the poorly designed levels. That's essentially Terra Wars in a nutshell. Each room has scripted spawn points which pop out new spawns in waves. Planning for subsequent waves is as simple as making note of where the first one spawned. Just set up camp and voila - an alien appears just begging to be destroyed. The game's linearity is extreme enough that levels are filled with invisible barriers which paint an awkwardly clear path.
Most gameplay elements peripheral to the straight running and gunning are implemented with little or no thought whatsoever. I'm not too sure what it is about some developers these days that compel them to include platforming in first person shooters. It doesn't work well, as you can't see your feet. Yet there is a good amount of it present in the game's level design, and these sequences serve more to frustrate than anything else. Some stages require you escort allies, but these NPCs are nigh invulnerable, so there's never a sense of urgency to protect them. They also serve as another way to highlight how linear Terra Wars is, as your allies simply move along through a scripted path, and then abruptly stop so mobs can spawn and assault you. You can't proceed ahead and satisfy the objectives, nor should you feel pressured to keep up with your mark as he won't spawn the mobs until you get near.