Shootmania Storm Beta Impressions
We took the free-to-play FPS Shootmania Storm’s beta for a test drive. Here are our impressions.
Ubisoft and NADEO announced their new free-to-play FPS, Shootmania Storm, with an original release date of January, 2013. A few days ago, the date was pushed back to April, 2013. The current version of the game is in open beta, so fans can still have access. I was offered a beta key to put the game through its paces; I was happy to oblige.
As far as shooters go, this is as simple as it gets: WASD and two-button mouse utilization. Basically, you run around and shoot people while trying to fulfill match objectives. There are no weapon switches, grenades, or interaction buttons. A player only needs to be tagged a couple of times before they’re eliminated from the match.
Shootmania Storm features extremely fast-moving combat which harnesses non-conventional weapons to eliminate opponents. The multi-colored discharge of energy-based ammunition makes it seem less like combat and more like a spectator sport. The absence of traditional lead-slinging weaponry makes for a non-violent, almost cartoonish, feel to gameplay. It’s as if you’re competing in one of the games in the movie Tron. The combatants also glow in different colors, akin to those of members of the rainbow-colored factions who are adversaries of the Green Lantern Corps. They even shoot from devices strapped to their arms, making their body’s stance while firing similar to someone who might be using a power ring.
Shootmania Storm was fun to play at first. However, my frustration started to grow as I realized it takes more luck than skill to succeed. A decent level of aptitude is required to be able to dodge the barrage of weapons fire and stay alive. Unfortunately, it takes more of an educated guess to hit a target. Everyone moves so quickly and erratically, it’s hard to predict exactly where they’d be from one second to the next. The strategy I’ve been employing to score points is to blanket an area with energy discharges from my weapon hoping their movements will land them in the same spot at the same time as my bullets get there. (It’s not very effective.)
The fighting is set in arenas designed to accommodate a variety of game modes. These venues have very detailed and textured surfaces. While Shootmania Storm’s graphics are well done, they’re nothing I haven’t seen before. As far as the game modes go, there are a handful of them to play with. All of them are objective-based. A content editor is also available for the player community to create their own maps and modes. Thanks to this feature, there is potential for a diverse selection of games and arenas in the future.
If you’re looking for a story in Shootmania Storm, you’re not going to find anything at all. Why are we running around capturing poles, balls, and flags? Is it for someone’s amusement or is there something else at stake? I might excuse the lack of a story because the game is still in beta. However, being lacking in this department isn’t surprising for Shootmania Storm. NADEO also made the Trackmania games; while they’re fun, narrative for those games doesn’t go very deep, either.
Is it a fun game? Sure, but only for a short period of time. I don’t really think it’s going to stand up well to existing free-to-play shooters like Valve’s Team Fortress 2. The whole time I was playing the game, a constant thought kept coming up in my brain: I could be playing something else. There are a lot of “something elses” that are more fun to play and are also free. I don’t have high hopes of this game getting any better by the time of release.