With all the recent focus on fictional wars set in the near and distant future, fighting with frighteningly impersonal technology through even more frightening dystopias that’ll depress anybody’s outlook on life, Strange Games’ Avatar Honor and Duty ($1.00) recalls that Great War where we first learned to love shooting total strangers in the face from the comfort (and complete safety) of our bedrooms— World War II.
Set in a nameless European village that borrows its color scheme and style from the developer’s previous FPS, Paintball War, and starring everyone’s ridiculously-dressed avatars, AHAD (sounds like a type of disorder, I know) once again melds a condensed indie design with Call of Duty’s highly-addictive multiplayer component. The result is a fast-paced, fun shooter that almost makes you forget it’s a tad derivative.
The usual drill applies. Matches can involve up to 16 players in a free-for-all format. Guns (and their attachments) are walled behind preset level requirements that you unlock the more points (via kills) that you earn. You can equip two perks at a time, and they are similarly doled out as you progress, giving you specific bonuses and boosts to skills or your weaponry, like faster reloads and increased running stamina. AHAD‘s armory contains guns representative of the era, with a carbine rifle, machine gun, and sniper rifle among the lot.
Killstreaks return as well, offering you the standard assortment of rewards for achieving and maintaining a hot streak, like radar, dual-wield, and so on, with you able to call in an artillery strike at the last step. Should you survive that long. The map favors close-quarters fighting, with groups clustered near the open areas or alleys leading to them. It’s chaotic in a good way, though, forcing confrontation and keeping the playing field level, with no one player able to really dominate without drawing the attention of nearby shooters. That quickened pace suits the controls, which may take some getting used to, stressing run and gun over ‘stop and pop’ precision.
The online code is generally reliable. Joining a match can prove difficult at times (and you can be dropped unceremoniously), but I had a mostly uneventful play experience in each of the matches I found, with only a few hints of lag or dreadfully-bad hit detection, which largely came in whenever multiple people joined or left the round. There is also some problems with combatants sinking into floors or glitching into walls. I have to mention it, but you should know that it’s a small issue in the grand scheme.
All in all, Avatar Honor and Duty is an easy recommendation to make for those constantly looking for a new indie FPS to gravitate towards. Despite the throwback to a technologically-simpler time, it can and will feel like any other generic first person shooter. Don’t expect a revolution in design. If you measure a game’s worth by the amount of fun it provides, though, you’ll find ample value here.