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Game review: Steel Storm

posted Mar 10, 2011, 7:20 AM by Johnny Serafino
No, I don't have some kind of disease that makes me only to review 2d shooting Beta's and WIP's. This is only my second time, so I'm still claiming n00b defense. ;) I should warn you though, I only tend to review games I love or hate. I'm not so much for spending your and my time saying "this is a normal game."

Anyway, today we're taking a look at the demo for a cross platform shooting game still under development by KOT-in-Action Creative Artel called Steel Storm. This game holds a special part of my heart, as it's extrmely similar to one kind of game on my list of things to create someday.

           Come on, you have to love a game with these visuals


First, lets talk about the gameplay.

Basically, it's a top down 2D shooter. You have full 360 degree control, with FPS like mouseloook. That is, you use WASD + mouse to move and look respectively. There is multiplayer support, and I mean it when I say this game makes an excellent deathmatch. You're missing out if you only do SP, which is something I can't say for a good deal of games when everyone else does. This is also helped by the fact that you can build your own levels using the built in level editor. The gameplay is smooth, responsive, and fast. Pretty much everything you would expect from such a game.


The visual style in this game is constantly changing which leaves you little chance to get bored


That said about the gameplay, I really like the way it combines FPS/deathmatch style tactics like circle-strafing with maniac shoot-em-up like bullet dodging. Of course, all the bullets aren't able to be dodged. There are plenty of instant hit weapons available to you and your enemies.

And then you have the superb graphics.

The graphics, are actually full 3D using the Blender Game Engine. The gameplay however, is 100% 2D. I have heard an FPS camera mode is under development in the unreleased version, but the gameplay still remains pretty much 2D from what I've seen in the demo videos. I actually learned about this game while looking at games made with Blender, and I admit to being impressed with the visuals. You see, this game uses several 3D effects like bloom and particle systems. Blender can do those, but not for games unless you program the effects yourself. Which is apparently whats going on here.


The eye-candy in this game is only a side dish to the gameplay


The music in this game is good. I mean, it fit's the mood, sounds good, and really does work. It's just that the soundtrack really didn't stand out to me that much.

There's not a whole lot more to say about this game, but I do want to talk about the bosses. In an earlier post, I talked about some of the ingredients needed to create the ultimate game experience. This game covers a good deal of them, even the machine guns. I talked about bosses, and said to "do them right". I didn't really go into detail about what I meant, but the bosses in this game seem to have gone the opposite direction of what I was thinking.

                        A boss fight in steel storm

My first quibble, is that the bosses are only slightly bigger than you. That's not always a bad thing, but it's a little anti-climatic to come to the boss fight and say "Oh look, it's two of the other enemies strapped together." This could even have been glossed over if they had at least tried covering some other bases. The bosses weapons are basically a dual stream of rapid firing red pulses, which would be great if that wasn't the exact same weapon all the enemies before it had. The bosses health is about right, but the size of the boss makes it off balance. I mean, I let the cyberdemon by as a great boss, and it had more health than these guys do. But it was WAY bigger, making it easier to chisel that health away.

All of this could have been patched over and made the bosses mediocre, but no. You see, you can strafe and aim. But the boss, while a little slower moving than you, can aim in any direction without turning himself, and he can aim faster than you can strafe around him in a reasonably tight circle. 

When I first started the game, I didn't like it because of the tight corridor battles which required cover. That was before I hit the more open parts of the game which are mixed in pretty well. But the bosses, MUST be encountered somewhere with cover if you expect to survive. I'm not being a baby, and I'm not saying the bosses shouldn't be hard. I'm just saying it shouldn't be a die in a few seconds or get lucky and kill it first fight.

So when I started talking about the bosses, it was an "Oh look, two enemies strapped together." Now, it's an "Oh look, a small stupid looking badly balanced perfect aiming piece of metal that isn't new or exciting at all and forces you to play peak-a-boo or hope you get lucky."



        Huge fights in wide open area's are spread throughout


I won't let that detract too much from the game though.  The bosses aren't the center of the game anyway.
So what do I say about this game? I recommend it.

It's fun to play through the SP, and multiplayer is done really well. I've spent hours on it and still am not bored of it. Gameplay is excellent, love the concept. Music works well, and goes with the graphics which are superb. The bosses are not done well, but there are only few. That's the point of the bosses though isn't it? ;)

My final score:     7.5/10.

My complaint is mainly the bosses, but also that this game didn't really try to stick out. I'm looking forward to the final game, I could pre-order, but I generally only buy finished games. If you do pre-orders, I would give the demo a shot and really consider it.
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