When it comes to the Quake deathmatch formula, there’s not much you can improve on. With Quake Live, which is free, you have fast-paced action with an invigorating industrial soundtrack, weapons that are fun to use and feel powerful, labyrinth-like levels that keep you on edge, detailed dungeon and sci-fi aesthetics, five initial game modes, a “variety pack” which features several other game modes such as Red Rover and Race, and it’s topped off with smooth physics and controls.
Compare this to Batla Shooter, a free-to-play FPS developed by Geim.Pro that came out on May 14. Batla Shooter has no soundtrack. Its gameplay is far slower, and its weapons feel dull and unoriginal. Its level design is sub-par, focusing on environments that are either too broad and plain to keep up the action, or small environments that have very few features. (One level is basically a racing track going around a large, empty box.) There are only four game modes, one of which, King of the Hill, only has two playable levels. Its graphics are rigid and lack detail, and while the game’s color coordination works well, (it helps keep Batla Shooter‘s simple, childish charm) and it controls smoothly, Batla Shooter can’t compete with other available free-to-play FPS games.
So that’s the bad. What’s the good? Well, the game is about a group of robots who landed on Earth with intentions to conquer the planet but are too small, so instead they shoot at each other in a child’s bedroom. That’s a great premise, almost like Toy Story meets One Must Fall 2097, and in gameplay, it captures the tone and innocence of the former while having the competitive edge and upgrade system of the latter. (It also has robots in it, thus completing the One Must Fall comparison.)
With it’s cartooney art style and silly setting, this could be a great game to introduce kids to the FPS genre. You’d have to create a designated server just for kids, but they would probably really enjoy it.
The game’s upgrade system helps separate Batla Shooter from other multi-player FPS games. It could add a new level of dedication to players who want to work their way from the bottom with a pitiful hunk of junk to the top with a gold standard of killing machine. (Your robot can be literally gold too.) Players can buy new equipment — such as arms, legs, heads, torsos, skins, etc. — to boost the attributes of their robots, giving them speed, defense attack and so on.
A lot of players might have gotten caught up in this element of the game, but it’s thrown out the window with its Starter Pack DLC, which gives 10,000 upgrade clips to those willing to spend $2.19 (CDN) on it. You can buy nearly all the upgrades for your starter robot (the soldier) with the starter pack alone, and once you realize you can buy your way to the top, and that other players (usually the ones killing you over and over again) didn’t earn their abilities in gameplay, it’s easy to lose interest.
The starter pack also includes some new head designs, providing more options for players to express their individuality through their robots. Individuality is great. There should be more of it. This is just a nit-pick, but besides the head designs included in the starter pack, the game’s only other option for individualizing your robots is by adjusting the colors, and that only works before you buy your first skin, which will probably be early on.
Between the game’s three playable robots, two of them are DLC which cost $5.49 (CDN) respectively, and each of them has a special ability. There’s the scout, who’s small, fast and can use a shield. There’s the tank, who is large, powerful and can do a dash maneuver. And there’s the soldier, the healthy medium between fast and powerful, who can zoom in and shoot his enemies from a distance.
Each robot has different variations of essentially the same ten weapons, six of which are variations of the weapons from Quake Live. There’s the shotgun, the railgun, the rocket launcher, the grenade launcher, the plasma gun and the lightning gun. Those aren’t their official names but they’re essentially the same. Along with those is the machine gun, your starter weapon which you can duel wield if you pick up another machine gun. There’s also the flame thrower, the trip mines and the E.LI.U.M., which is essentially a BFG.
The majority of the guns just don’t make much of an impact. The lightning gun, particularly, might be one of the least effective weapons in gaming history. You might get lucky with the grenade launcher, but for the most part you’ll have a lot of trouble hitting your target. You might as well just use the rocket launcher, which shoots straight and explodes on impact. There’s only a few good places to put the trip mines. In most instances, players will see them from a mile away.
With the soldier, the double machine guns, shotgun and plasma gun are some of the only three weapons that feel fun to use, though that variation may change with the scout and tank robots. With the scout, the rail gun becomes a sniper rifle, which is powerful and fitting for the game’s vast landscapes. (Roomscapes?) The tank, on the other hand, instead of a grenade launcher, has the cluster mines, which shoot two grenades that split mid-air into several grenades that explode on impact. But in the end, you’ll still only like three or four weapons for each robot. Considering the differences not just in weapons, but in controls and abilities, the DLC isn’t worth it.
The game’s not terrible, but it’s bland. Batla Shooter‘s empty soundtrack is a perfect metaphor for the vast, empty void this game leaves in the emotions of its players. If you like games like Quake Live or Half-Life Deathmatch, it’s not like this is going to be painful to play, but it’s only fun enough to take you from one hour to the next. It’s a time waster. Nothing is lost from ignoring this game.
Batla Shooter is free to play on Steam and was reviewed on PC.
Batla Shooter gets most of its positives from other games and most of its negatives from its distinctions. Its best feature is ruined by its "pay-to-win"-esque starter pack. The game's other DLC has some positives, but isn't worth buying.