Saturday, May 25

Anthem Review (PS4)

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70% Good

Anthem's core gameplay is great fun, but as a long-term investment, EA and Bioware are going to have to blow it out of the water with their first batch of post-launch content to justify paying full-price for new loot-shooter.

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Easily one of the biggest releases of the year, Anthem is every Iron Man fans’ dream. EA’s big online RPG shooter brings together the best bits of a deep, role-playing experience, but wraps it up in a fast, frantic shooter with robotic suits, but is there something more beneath the shiny surface?

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First and foremost, Anthem requires an internet connection to play. You have to jump onto EA’s servers into order to tackle even the game’s story missions, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to purchase a copy.

Once you’re in, you’ll immediately notice that Anthem is visually stunning, with the lush planet of Bastion (which bears a striking resemblance to Avatar‘s Pandora), javelins, and enemies all carrying unique designs and detail. There are some awkward animations and moments due to the game having to sync with the online servers, but it’s nothing that’ll break the experience entirely.

Players are essentially tasked with taking on missions via the game’s hub world, heading out into the dangerous world beyond the city’s walls, and fighting all kinds of creatures and monsters, while facing off against a rivalling group hell-bent on using some sort of ancient relic to wield power. It’s all very fantastical, sci-fi infused padding, and most of it will go over your head, but it’s an interestingly designed world that’ll keep you entertained throughout its 20-odd hour story.

A lot of Anthem is about playing with other people co-operatively, but there are a few matchmaking issues that’ll leave you scratching your head. Jumping into missions is all good and the game will pair you with other players to help you out, but the lack of ability to quit, ping or call a friendly when you’re downed (you literally just have to wait for someone to come save you), and the fact that you’re tethered to the player (transporting you to their location if they press ahead, causing you to miss some sweet-sweet loot and items) is quite bizarre.

As for the good, the fact that players can simply launch into the air during combat utilising their suits jets gives you a great sense of vertical attacking options and evasion techniques, while also making traversal to objectives fun and acrobatic, rather than plodding along on foot. Having to watch that you’re javelin doesn’t overheat and requiring you to quite literally ‘cool your jets’ by flying through waterfalls or dive-bombing is a great way to keep the ability in-check to maintain the novelty and fun-factor.

Finding and salvaging loot in order to purchase new weapons or craft upgrades is obviously a big part of Anthem, as your javelin’s abilities can be evolved and improved upon as you progress. Each javelin has different weapons (which can range from shoulder cannons to energy beams), along with a special ability based on your javelin class. Utilising these together in conjunction with your primary weapon gives you combos, of sort, which can deal huge damage to larger enemies.

Despite the disjointed story, Anthem does have a lot going for it. There is a fair bit of repetitiveness with its ‘find, kill, and loot’ gameplay loop, and Anthem did have to start strong in the online arena as there are other games out there to fill it’s void. Thankfully, it does have the javelin flight gameplay to differentiate it, but EA and Bioware are going to have to blow it out of the water with their first batch of post-launch content.

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