"Just Barely Off Target"
ShootMania Storm is a bare-bones shooter. Unlike most COD-style FPS shooters, which are centered around a real "run and gun" mode of play, ShootMania Storm takes things back to the origins of multiplayer FPS by locking you and your opponents in an arena where you shoot it out until there's one man left standing. While this return to form is entertaining, there are few issues holding ShootMania Storm back from being an exemplar of a lost age of FPS shooters.
ShootMania Storm doesn't fool the player with any pretense of an in-depth story to instill motivation to play the game; in fact, there's nothing except for a menu screen waiting for you when you load up the game. It is here where ShootMania Storm first begins to stumble: while the tiled menus are very easy to navigate, they aren't very informative. You select your mode and you're immediately dropped into a lobby system based on the game mode you selected. The modes you're offered do bring some variety in gameplay, but the end goal of each and every mode is to be the last man standing, and that's a good thing.
The gameplay in ShootMania Storm is simplistic by nature. You're given a rocket launcher-style gun, a regenerating ammo count, stamina, and health, and you're dropped into an arena against your opponents. Your goal is to survive the round and be the last player standing. That's it. Because of this simplicity, ShootMania Storm shines during its gameplay, because the entire formula is predicated around player skill. You won't be killed unless you were outplayed by your enemies. Conversely, you won't be getting any kills with the "spray and pray" approach to shooting. The projectiles that you fire move reasonably slow, so you'll have to lead your opponents into your shots, rather than point and click. Its fast-paced, high-tension combat keeps you on the edge of your seat for every engagement you get into, and it's some of the most fun I've had with a shooter in a long time.
Despite the very satisfying risk / reward structure in ShootMania Storm, there's still a lot left to be desired in the actual game. While the maps are well structured for the arena-style, twitchy gameplay, they all lack any personality. It may have been farfetched for this kind of shooter, but it would have been nice to have more than the dusty jungle setting ShootMania emphasizes. I also would have liked to have seen more variety across the game modes. Maybe keeping the restricted gun system but changing which type of gun you use in different modes would offer more variety, but, for the most part, ShootMania doesn't bring diversity to the table.
Then, there's the issue of the graphics. I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm not a stickler for graphics. If a game is roughly around the current standard, I'll play it with no qualms. I can also appreciate games which emphasize artistic direction over graphical fidelity, and I appreciate the work that artists put into making games look good. That being said, ShootMania Storm is just barely passable. The effects on the weapons are very nice to see in the brief moment that it takes for them to fly from you to your enemy, but everything else isn't pleasant to look at. A contributing factor to the bland quality of the stages is the low visual quality of those maps in which you play.
Fortunately, the music is an almost perfect fit for the frantic pace of the game. Nothing jumps out in particular, but the music makes bobbing and weaving in between shots and attempting to land your own a thrilling experience.
All in all, ShootMania Storm is a well-intentioned product that was held back by its own self-imposed limitations. The focus on the old-school, arena-style FPS gameplay was a great breath of fresh air in the COD saturated market of today. Still, it would have been nice if ShootMania pressed the envelope a little farther and brought a few of the modern conveniences we've come to expect from our online games. A few more modern touches, while still retaining the classic arena shooter feel really could have set ShootMania Storm at the top of the fresh new shooters list, and in the end it just barely misses that goal.
GameDynamo's Score for ShootMania Storm (PC)
|Joey Blackwell II
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Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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