Defiance is a MMORPG tie-in with the Syfy TV show of the same name that has yet to launch. It does not take place in the same location as the series, instead being based around the post invasion/apocalypse Bay Area of San Francisco. There are claims that what happens in the MMO might have influence on the plot of the TV show, but we shall see how much influence players have over the show itself.
I spent much of last weekend in the final beta weekend which should be release quality as the game comes out next week. The NDA has been listed to consider this a preview/review of the beta for the game.
I have played the main story of the game until the end of what is available, and it is okay, despite the annoying dialogue. Side missions are decent at first, if unimaginative, but soon the same ones are repeated with more enemies. World events are tedious and dull and not that rewarding. After the second time you and your colleagues empty all your ammo into some giant bug while fighting off smaller ones, you do wonder what the point of it all is.
Veterans of MMOs and modern videogames will see a lot that is familiar here. Think of this as a mash-up of Borderlands 2 (if it were third person), Earthrise (the average and now defunct MMO) and APB (with its lame combat). In fact at times the game feels like Earthrise with a fresh lick of graphics on the top. The two weapon limit (meaning you have to go into inventory to get another gun if you run out of ammo) and the simplistic clunky PC controls do hint at a console-focused game.
The game looks quite good and runs fairly well. Or, it does until you watch cutscenes that are dated and almost laughably bad. Lips barely move and faces show no emotion. I only had a couple of crashes, mostly likely due to a server restart and a glitch, which is a positive sign. The interface is quite clunky and needs a bit of getting used to. For one thing, why have they hid “exit game” in the settings?
The combat in Defiance is as clunky as in APB and Earthrise. I have found the easiest way to actually kill things is with an area effect weapon. Even with sights, most of the guns in the game are ineffectual except up close. And don’t even consider melee combat unless you are really desperate as it is appalling. So, as with The Secret World, anti-bug combat mostly entails missing with a gun and having to deal with a monster in your face quickly with nothing but the butt of a gun with which to hit it. As you go up in the levels, weapons can be acquired–as with Borderlands–with effects like fire, lighting, and acid. Combat against the various raiders dotted across the landscape can be fun at times, while the combat against the giants bugs gets annoying quickly. There is a story-based mission with the Sheriff–sorry, Lawgiver–to San Quentin that is quite entertaining. NPCs do have a habit of rushing into battle and getting themselves taken down in order to drag you into the middle of it to get them back on their feet.
The driving in this game is laughable, and you will do a great deal of it. In fact, there is an achievement for driving enough. The basic vehicle, which thankfully you get right away, is a quad bike that has the turning circle of an old cadillac and handles just as poorly. I would tell you about the car that you can buy, but it never actually worked for me as it was bugged out. Fortunately, you can fast travel to a few places, but there is a great deal of real estate between them.
All of this is pretty standard for your average free to play MMO. Unfortunately, this isn’t free to play with them expecting you to pay $60 for the basic version and $99 for Deluxe version. Not only that, but the game will have a microtransaction shop in it to gouge users for even more. The shop contains things like XP and loot boosts for individual, group or clan. It also contains a variety of gear and vehicles. Granted, you can earn in-game currency to buy most of them, but it seems a bit much after paying so much for the game.
Interestingly enough, Defiance is running a “pre-order” bonus scam scheme on Steam to get additional goodies for those who pre-order and sucker their friends to do it too. The game hasn’t even reached its first threshold yet and the game is release a week from tomorrow.
I genuinely found myself looking forward to playing this title to see how lame things could get. It, at times, is a hilariously bad in implementation. The made up cuss words from one of the main characters is so daft it is almost endearing.
As a sci-fi fan and writer I hope the TV show is not as average as this game. As it stands now, Defiance is looking like it will be a rather expensive (for game company and purchaser alike) flop into mediocrity. Maybe give this a look six months in and see where it is going.
Defiance is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3 Xbox 360.