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Sci-fi Action in Warframe

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By michael_granthamDate: 01-15-2013 Views:

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Digital Extremes' Warframe is a third-person-shooter that blends melee with run-and-gun style combat in a science-fiction setting. The game's story revolves around the Tenno – ancient warriors, equipped with powerful armor and skilled with both gun and blade – who have been summoned once more to protect the universe from the Grineer; mechanized humans implementing cloning technology to spread throughout the galaxy.

Although the game doesn't feature a class-system, as such, players are able to select from a number of Warframes to suit their individual play-styles. At current, there are four basic Warframes available: Excalibur, the default Warframe, which is balanced between power and speed and thus perfect for those new to the game; Mag, a Warframe specialized in enemy manipulation and magnetic energy; Rhino, with an emphasis upon power and defense, is perfect for tanking, yet is also capable of dishing out devastating damage and; Loki, a Warframe capable of manipulating the battlefield itself.

The game is played from a central hub – which kind of looks like a little galaxy – wherein you select missions, upgrade your Warframe, weapons and armor. Additionally, you can also purchase new Warframes and weapons from the store or navigate to the foundry where you’re able to create the most powerful weapons and Warframes from materials and items gathered during gameplay, but more about that later.

The game, as mentioned previously, is based around missions, which are selected from the central hub. These are largely dynamic, requiring you to steal items, gather information, infiltrate and sabotage a specific facility or eliminate a certain target. Each mission can be played either solo, or with other players which significantly impacts upon the difficulty. That is to say, going solo, as good as you think you are, may not always be the smartest choice, especially when entering some of the later levels.

As the game is mission based, the overall sense of immersion into an alternate reality which forms the foundation for a vast majority of MMO titles is largely reduced, if not altogether absent. At the same time, however, it does place greater emphasis upon what I believe to be the game’s strongest asset – it’s affinity with action gaming. Whether this will be enough to satisfy the appetite of MMO players remains to be seen.

Although online, Warframe has the feel of a console-action game. That is to say, gameplay, especially combat, is fast and requires some level of skill to be executed effectively. Further, combat is also dynamic, requiring the use of both ranged and melee weapons. If Gears of War and Onimusha had a secret love child, this is more than likely what it would be like. The game uses the traditional, tried-and-tested WASD movement system. The LMB fires your primary weapon, whilst hitting the RMB takes you into aiming mode – you know, for more accurate shooting. You can carry two guns at any one time, a long-gun (assault-rifles, sniper-rifles etc.) and a side-arm (pistol, machine-pistols).

Whilst the game does encourage smart ranged-combat (running, using cover and laying down suppressive fire), you’re trusty melee weapon is always there for when enemies inevitably stray too close for comfort. That and, well, let’s face it, there is always a certain bent appeal to the satisfaction derived from cutting someone in half. Or running into a group of heavily-armed enemies and taking them out using nothing but a knife or sword, if only to prove that you can. Admittedly, I did find myself wishing that the melee weapon could be equipped as a primary weapon, like the gun, rather than implemented as a secondary weapon by hitting e. That said, it’s still fun to use, not to mention useful, especially against lightly armored enemies.

The game also implements various RPG elements. As you gain experience by completing levels, your Warframe will level up, providing you with attribute points that can be spent on new skills, improving existing skills, or increasing things such as health, armor, total energy etc. Both ranged and melee weapons will also level up and gain their own points which are used to improve the overall damage or efficiency of a weapon.

As you progress through levels, you will begin to pick up mods (which can be used to improve existing weapons). More importantly, however, you will also pick up blue-prints and materials that can be used to create new, more powerful weapons and Warframes in the foundry. Constructing new equipment is pretty straight-forward. You need both a blue-print and the necessary materials to construct a specific item. After that, it’s simply a matter of clicking build, paying the designated of credits (in game currency earned by killing enemies and completing levels) and waiting the allotted time.

Warframe might not be the most immersive MMO title currently available, but then again, it never claimed to be. What it is, however, is a fast, fun action-game that implements both ranged and melee combat and in spite its simplicity, still requires some level of skill. It might not be for everyone, but I’d definitely recommend playing it.

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