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This weekend I got my first taste of the Kickstarter funded project, Ravaged. This title, developed by 2 Dawn studios, aims to be a vehicular FPS unrestricted by the limitations that come from the typical publisher/developer model. I'm not entirely clear on what all of those restrictions are - marketing does always want larger bust sizes - but hey it's nice to stick it to the man. And, given my experience with the game, I'm not too worried about it either way. In the few hours I had to spend with this title I had a blast gibbing people, being the cause of major vehicular disasters, and headshotting from 500 yards. So, how did this game flesh itself out to compete in what is already a very crowded FPS market? Read on!

Vehicular madness

First, the developer's primary focus in their marketing material is on the vehicular combat element of the game. To this end, there is a wide variety of options to choose from in your quest for map domination. And, given the size of most of the maps, you really will need to make a choice. Most of the maps that I had a chance to play were gigantic, even being large enough to accommodate multiple high flying, fast moving helicopters. Aside from helicopters, players can choose from armored Toyota Hi-Luxs (a perennial third world warlord favorite), Jeeps modified with gun turrets, 4-wheeler single person transports, and several Mad Max inspired vehicles including the solo-copter/ultra-light. All vehicles were susceptible to damage and, used correctly, were capable of being powerful initiators in an assault. Unfortunately, as this player experienced firsthand, they are also capable of being massive death traps. Soloing in a vehicle, or being very familiar with your driver is highly recommended! I took more than a few trips to the respawn area because of suicidal beta players failing to realize they had a passenger.

A well tested recipe

Beyond vehicles the game draws on the fixed class style of first person shooters made popular by Team Fortress-like games.  Each opposing side has 5 fixed classes to choose from which draw from the familiar stereotypes like the heavy weapons guy, the demolitions man, the sniper, etc. The map size being what it was I hardly strayed from the sniper, counting on the ability to use vehicle mounted turrets for heavier fire power against groups and opposing vehicles. This worked well mostly, although I did find myself at a serious disadvantage when it came to objective capture. As a sniper, I felt that cursor accuracy, hit boxes at range and damage accounting around distance and target body area all seemed reasonable, if not perfectly clean. Given that this is a beta, I would expect these items to only improve from here. In fact, this should certainly be the case as it is another area that their marketing material heavily emphasizes.

Tactical gameplay

Perhaps the element that struck me as the most unique was their map design. The post-apocalyptic theme of the game world lends itself beautifully to large maps filled with massive landmarks recognizable from the real world. Using the Golden Gate Bridge as a launch ramp for your opening vehicular salvo against the enemy, or hiding amongst the ruins of the Statue of Liberty for your sniper kills is just that much more satisfying. Other than this the map layouts seem to strongly favor tactical positioning and impose an added level of terrain difficulty around most of the objective areas. I can't gush about the graphics used to render these terrains, but they were as you would expect for a game that is emphasizing large team battles (and thus heavy model density) over stunning, single player style vistas.

Impressions

Overall this game showed great promise to be yet another adrenaline packed title collecting on the seemingly endless appetite for the first person shooter genre. I recognized familiar, and desirable, elements from my time with other titles such as Team Fortress, Counterstrike, Tribes, and Halo. With any luck the synthesis of these elements will coalesce into a polished product to match anyone of those titles. As things stand, they are off to a fantastic start with only a few bugs standing out enough to be a major annoyance. In fact, my only serious complaint would have to be that the only way 2 Dawn Studios has capitalized on their release from the traditional publisher imposed bonds is by enlarging their female model's butt instead of her bust. Seriously, watch out for the scavenger sniper model - she means business in all 6 inches of her jean shorts.

Ravaged is currently in closed beta. Sign-up and additional information is available at 2 Dawn's website. They are also granting immediate beta access to those that pre-order the game here.