The beta release of Raze 2 is finally out and we are excited to the bone! The game is everything that Sky 9 Games have promised -and a lot more. There are plenty of new tweaks that have improved the graphics, performance and even gameplay of this arena-based platform shooter game. Right off the start, Raze 2 is easily matching up to the reputation and the hype -but can its stylized graphics and classic gameplay live up to today's standards?
If you have not played the original Raze, fret not. While you have passed up a generally fun Flash based browser game, playing the first title is not a prerequisite for appreciating the sequel. Everything that was great in the original has been retained and there are plenty of new features that help make the new game even more challenging for players.
What is most notable for players of Raze 1 is the changes in the delivery; all new graphics and sweet new soundtracks herals the arrival of a brand new game -and just in time too. With plenty of other browser games getting the major development treatment, Raze certainly deserves the updating, and the developers certainly went all the way through. And that is not all they improved.
Raze 2's gameplay is the product is a massive streamlining (as an overhaul does not really apply in this case). The combat is faster than ever thanks to the improvement of the game's graphics and resource management. Weapon accuracy and physics seems to have been making use of a brand new engine that keeps track of every little detail. The inclusion of a new item and skill management factor increases the game's overall replay value and the pacing of the actual game has been turned up a notch -certainly to the joy of challenge-hungry hardcore players.
From what we have seen, Raze is a pretty straightforward game. You aim, shoot and kill - in the meanwhile, you run around avoiding enemy fire, traps and environmental hazards as well as picking up various power ups and weapons along the way. The core of the game is true to the original, which makes this sequel something truly worth taking the time to play. The controls are fairly easy to master; the game uses the old WASD for run and mouse for aiming. Other keys access special actions, such as reloading, changing weapons or using special abilities.
Putting two and two together is the game's varied AI constructs. Some of the bots will simply run around and shoot at you, other will camp, some will horde items and there are those that simply play the role of the tactically aggressive hunter - which is something that many players would certainly come to appreciate.
We noticed that there seems to be a very distinct difference in weapon classes now. Not only are players able to find and purchase unique weapon types, but the human and alien races now have completely different weapons to use - making your first campaign play through the human storyline completely different from the alien mode. But just how different, we cannot really say at this point; we have only just barely scratched the surfaced of this game after finishing the human campaign. From the first couple of stage in the alien story, the weapon change will really put a different spin on things and the fact that the difficulty of the bots will jump from easy to hard is something that we certainly appreciate.
The Raze 2 game also sets you up in varying types of combat mechanics. There is the regular team deathmatch, juggernaut, and free for all which we enjoyed in the previous game. Now there are new features in play as well: capture the flag (an FPS favourite) and domination (which has its roots in the Battlefield series). These two modes will change the way you approach combat in the game and certainly lends a lot of variety to Raze.
Aside from coming up with an inventive platform shooter, the folks behind Raze 2 have also dug deep into the science fiction genre to provide us all with a more significantly pronounced storyline. Of course, the two scenarios will provide players with different points of view into the story -which basically switches the sides you are on.
The narrative is delivered in briefly animated flash sequences -not quite the graphical highlight of the game, but it does make for an interesting read. Nicely enough, if you prefer to skip through the dialogue and narration, there is still an option to watch the content from the game's main menu.
Raze 2 makes use of a login system for saving your character and stats -which is great if you are the type who likes to clear the browser cache every now and then. While there are no penalties for performing badly, you can get some seriously good rewards by aiming for achievements and other bonuses. Getting double kills, critical hits and other special moves in the game will net you plenty of credits which can be used to purchase character skins, equipment, weapons and abilities.
Yes, yes and yes; all these three items are now 'purchasable' with in-game credits. This means that you can literally beef up your character with 1 special ability and 3 equipment upgrades. As for weapons, you still need to pick them up in the stage, but you can change the type per class (like the laser minigun, if you purchase and equip the flamethrower, all minigun pickups will be replaced by the fire based weapon).
Abilities certainly add a new spin to the game -enemies will suddenly hunker down and be protected by a shield of invulnerability that literally bounces projectiles away. Others will just whip out a katana and slash you up. One particular favorite of ours is the ability to drop mines and blowing up unsuspecting victims (protip: drop mines in locations that spawn health and shield powerups as well as in narrow corridors). Every player on the field will have an ability equipped, so better choose one that you really think suits your play style.
Quick matches are a top favorite of ours, you can choose the stage, the type of gameplay, number of teams, enemies and even individual bot AI capabilities. Aside from being able to polish up your skills in an arena that best suits your level of playing, quick matches will also let you earn those much needed credits, which means that you not only get to practice, but you also manage to progress your character at the same time.
The best part of quick matches is the fact that it is very addictive. We spent about a couple of hours or so on the first campaign. But with the quick match mode, we have been playing non-stop for quite some time now. The fact that you can crank up the difficulty to fight alone against a team of insane level AI enemies certainly makes the game infinitely challenging.
With all this in just our first few hours in the game, there is no doubt that Raze 2 has plenty more to offer. The tight controls, fast paced action and immersive combat mechanics will certainly tickle your fancy if your anything of a Golden Eye or Unreal Tournament Fan. If you have not tried out this impressive sequel, then we highly suggest that you do so right now. A bit of registration and logging in is required by the game, but it is so worth it. And now, before we head back to playing more Raze, we will leave you with one last gameplay tip: never underestimate the value of a single, well-placed shotgun blast on a target. Happy hunting!