Sunday, 20 May 2012

Madballs in Babo: Invasion - Game Design Review

Madballs in Babo: Invasion is the sequel to the freeware game Babo Violent 2  using the 1980's Madballs toy as it's theme. The corney ball designs actually works quite well in my opinion and I can't think of a better way to use them. I quite enjoyed the freeware Babo Violent 2 back when it came out years ago so I was excited when I got this game thanks to the Groupees bundle.

Initial Impressions - As a Babo multiplayer game, the game mechanics seem to work fairly well. There are different classes and lots of interesting weapons each with a dual secondary fire. Basically it takes Babo to a fairly solid next level. Doesn't innovate too much but seems well put together.

So while technically and graphically competent, cracks start to appear when I sat down to try out the game's single player campaign since I couldn't find anyone online.

Boring Singleplayer - As a single player game, Babo madballs is very repetitive and average. The campaign starts off okay but needs more variety in the maps and gameplay. You don't have any allies in the game so everyone in the game is gunning for you, the enemies aren't very intelligent and the single player arenas aren't that interesting. As a result the game really runs out of steam about half way through. Base building is neglected in the single player as well except for the very last level which I personally thought was a shame because it seemed just as interesting.

Weapons and abilities start off locked in single player - I get the strong impression that the game is designed ideally for you to switch between both single player and multiplayer to slowly unlock all the skins and characters.

One of the worst things and disheartening things that a player see in a game is when you move to pick up a weapon on the ground in a level only to see a big lock on the sign and the requirement to play more to unlock this weapon. The standard practice in shooters is to give you new weapons, upgrades and abilities as you complete areas and proceed to the next level. It's part of the reward of finishing that section of the game. So why did the designers deliberately place weapons on the ground but lock them up so you have to play at least two more levels to unlock all the weapons on the first level?

Some might argue that's for the speed run portion of the game and isn't necessary for the campaign portion of the game. It tells me as a player that you designed the level with those weapons in mind but then decided to lock them up for some unknown reason because it would have some how affected the level gameplay balance. I strongly feel that it creates the impression of an artificial barrier rather than a goal to reach.

Also why can't you have all the abilities of a character or weapon unlocked once you unlock the weapon/character? Instead you have to slowly fight your way through before the game with it before it finally agrees that you've killed enough enemies to warrant the new abilities.

There is plenty of downloadable content DLC for you to purchase such as extra skins but there is also an unlock everything DLC purchase. This last option particularly annoys me because it feels as if I haven't purchase a full game but a game which the developers are trying to scam more money out of me. It's a bit like making a game deliberately difficult and forcing the player to pay for the cheatcodes.

No players online and lack of skirmish
- Couldn't find any servers to join and you can't fill a multiplayer map with bots. This is a real shame because mentioned above the core game seems quite solid. I'm thinking it it might be worth releasing for free instead and just sell skin packs.

Overall it is a solid multiplayer game albeit one in which you have to grind to unlock your single player. Because of the lack of multiplayer servers online although it is a technically solid game I have to recommend giving this a miss as you can probably spend money on other game with more players and have just as much fun!

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