Avatar Warfare (80 MSP) is DigitalDNA Games latest FPS to hit the service, and it’s once again adapting Call of Duty’s gameplay and progression system to fit the avatar crowd, to very good effect.
This installment ditches the neon-drenched hallways of a space station (Avatar Laser Wars 2) and tries for a more serene, grounded setting. It’s certainly pretty to look at (check out the reflection effects on the stream that runs through the level), and the game’s ‘Lost Subdivision’ map (if you’ve played Black Ops, think of it as vaguely ‘Nuketown’-ish) gives you plenty of natural cover and houses to hide behind / strike from.
Most games start off as Free-For-All matches, transitioning into a Team Deathmatch once enough players have joined. In fact, it handles and plays practically identical to the aforementioned Avatar Laser Wars 2, which is a good thing (I ranked the game 10th on my leaderboard). That same familiarity can also lead to some stagnant matches, as the differences (meaing ‘lack thereof’) between the two games becomes more apparent, kind of like how gamers take issue with the annual COD installments. Only having access to a single map, too, tends to stale during longer sessions.
Still, most of the impetus for playing first-person shooters comes in ranking up and unlocking new weapons / perks, and Avatar Warfare offers a plethora of tiered rewards. Much like its spiritual predecessor, you earn experience for hitmarkers and ‘tags’ (i.e. kills), which level up your avatar and give you access to the bigger / better versions of the starting guns (assault rifles, SMGs, rifles, shotguns), and perks that enhance your own latent abilities. Tagstreaks (standing in for ’killstreaks’) make their return as well, giving you the chance to one-up your competition with short-lived boosts and effects, like radar and the still-frustrating shield, or an RPG to wreak havoc with. Earning a set number of tags in a row, with higher rewards requiring higher risk / longer killstreaks, remains a just prize for skilled players and an ample challenge for newcomers.
Water so pretty!
Feelings of familiarity aside, the usual frustrations with online XBLIGs will apply, including laggy connections and players suddenly dropping out. This is particularly troublesome in the Team Deathmatch mode, juggling six players or more, with others constantly joining in / leaving. It’s never to the point of being unplayable (for long, anyway), though you’ll no doubt encounter numerous situations where you’ll die or miss your shots due to the connection. Individual results may vary, as they say.
Overall, Avatar Warfare is another solid FPS on the service courtesy of DigitalDNA, though those expecting a brand new experience will be slightly let down. While the same fun and pick-up-play components that fuel competitive multiplayer games are present in Avatar Warfare, it feels more like an evolution of previous games. Should still scratch that Call of Duty itch for a dollar.