Star Fox's Crash Landing
I miss Star Fox 64. It doesn't feel like many games want to attempt that style of on-rails shooter anymore. When I first saw Omnibion War I was rather excited, as it looked exactly like the kind of game that wanted to capture this style. More of an anime mech art, but all things are good with giant mechs so that's fine with me. I hopped into the game looking to fill that retro hole. Is Omnibion War able to make it work, or should the war come to an end?
Taking place several years after a war between humanity and a race of aliens, you play as ace pilot and anime pretty boy Jaeden. There's a group known as Hellhounds, who are either alien, humans, or residents of a specific planet. I'm not sure which because Omnibion War never really explains it well. The Hellhounds decides to go rogue and attack humanity. In the process, they steal an alien technology known as Omnibion, which I guess is bad but I'm not really sure what Omnibion is either. Now Jaeden needs to stop them. What follows is anime characters talking via text boxes that are borderline impossible to read during combat. Ultimately, I got nothing out of the plot because I couldn't even figure it out most of the time. It doesn't help that the game seems to constantly forget what's going on. At one point a general told Jaeden that they needed to go to a city that kept changing names between "Blue Wolf," "Blue Rabbit," and "Blue Tear."
Honestly, that's not a big deal though, because the focus should be on the gameplay, right? It's obvious right from the start that Omnibion War wants to be as close to Star Fox 64 as possible. Each level is broken into two parts, with the first having you follow an on-rails segment and shooting at enemies as you fly by. There's nothing inherently wrong about these segments, but if you're going to be on-rails you would think more effort is put into trying to make them exciting. Almost all of them are just flying from point A to B, shooting targets that are usually stationary and rarely shoot back.
Shooting at Space
When a game has total control over your movement and camera, this should be used for exciting things. Flying through swarms of ships, through falling buildings, into explosions. Star Fox 64 got all of this right, making the segments memorable and exciting. Omnibion War doesn't. Most of the time the only thing I could bother to feel was an overwhelming sense of boredom. It's bizarre, as nothing really seems to happen to try and make them interesting. You're just flying in an on-rails line and sometimes shooting things. Often, I just wanted the segments to end so I could move on.
Sadly, the rest isn't any better. The other half of the mission has you breaking free of the on-rails constraint and flying around in an open area, completing objectives. Almost always this means shooting at specific targets until they explode. While the on-rails segments were boring, these were extremely frustrating. Often trying to figure out where you're supposed to go means wildly spinning around and hoping to see a marker. If you destroy all of an objective then I can almost guarantee a quick cutscene will play where one anime character congratulates you, then another shows up and say something along the lines of "oh no there's more!" You will do this three times per objective, without fail.
To assist you in these segments you're supposed to make use of one of Omnibion War's key features. At any point in time, you can turn from a spaceship into a mech. While you're a mech you can't move as fast and your guns have actual ammo but... actually, there's no real advantage to it. The mech has access to guns like a sniper rifle, shotgun, assault rifle, and more, but none of them ever seemed to be nearly as useful as the machine guns on your ship are. Even worse, the mech is a sitting duck. The moment you transform you'll have several missiles launched at you that are difficult to avoid as a ship, but straight up impossible as a mech. It doesn't help that it's really difficult to tell when you're getting shot at, as the game's indicators are far too small and out of the way.
Things only get worse when you come against one of Omnibion War's end-level bosses. Many of them have weak spots that can only be hit by using the mech because you can't be moving when you need to attack. It doesn't help that often their weak spot is only revealed in a phase that they can still attack from. It leads to bosses that are far more difficult than they really need to be by a large margin. It's also weird that the first two bosses have visible health bars, and then no boss ever has one again. Considering the often small weak spots, it makes it hard to tell if you're actually dealing damage or not.
This isn't even getting to many of Omnibion War's many little issues, things that make no sense and mostly made me wonder what the point is. For example, you have a stamina bar that empties when you turn into a robot, do barrel rolls, or boost. But this just begs the question: why does a spaceship have stamina? You have a meter that fills up as you deal damage, and when it fills you shoot faster. But why is the rate of bullets the only thing improved? There are a few super weapons you can buy, letting you drop lasers or swarms of missiles on a specific target. They are all totally useless and barely do any damage, mostly just making me ask why I'd ever bother with them. One level requires you to go underwater to fight submarines. However, if you hit the water as a ship you explode, and can only go underwater as a mech. Why the difference in reactions?
Omnibion War looks decent enough. I had a good time flying around worlds and seeing spaceship and alien design. I could appreciate the anime characters as well, which are designed to look like they belong in some animated mech show. I could not, however, appreciate the soundtrack in any way. The best words to describe it would be "butt rock," and it all sounded completely awful. There's also no voice acting in any way, something which would have made the plot a lot easier to understand because it's far too difficult to read text boxes while in the middle of combat.
Omnibion War Review | Final Thoughts
I was honestly hopeful for Omnibion War. I love this style of gameplay so much and it looked like it would scratch an itch most games don't even try to. However, the final product is just insanely disappointing. The on-rail stuff is boring, the free fly is frustrating, the story is nonsense, and the butt rock is... butt rock. I can't suggest playing it at all, even if you miss the good old days of Star Fox 64. Just play that again.
TechRaptor reviewed Omnibion War on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the publisher.
- Art Can Be Good at Times
- Confusing Story
- Boring On-Rails Segments
- Frustrating Free Fly
- Confusing Mechanics
- Terrible Soundtrack