Dirty Bomb – PC
Developer: Splash Damage
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Genre: First Person Shooter
Nerd Rating: 8/10
In the past few years deathmatch-oriented gameplay has reigned as king. Every studio rushed to copy the military shooter and the result became a flooded market of bland offerings that couldn’t hold my attention. There were no real teamwork mechanics to speak of. The people on your team were the ones that you were competing for kills with. No common goal that the team needed to complete. There was no need to develop strategies for maps beyond just taking the high ground. It was all very mindless. Dirty Bomb, on the other hand offers an exciting experience.
The flare is out. The roar of jet engines screams overhead. A volley of bombs drop from a passing aircraft and our EV(escort vehicle) is disabled. The team rushes behind the EV but two are cut down. I drop down a healing station and reload my shotgun as my teammate quickly repairs the vehicle. There is 30 seconds left and we have to get this vehicle to the objective. I climb the EV and man the turret. Pop! Pop! Pop! Down goes the enemy team save for two taking cover around the corner of a building. I lightly spray the corner to keep their heads down, but one comes round and throws a grenade. The poor inexperienced player didn’t know what he was doing. I shoot the fool’s grenade and kill the remaining enemy team and ride the EV into the goal, adding another 9 minutes to the timer and roll over the next objective to declare a decisive victory.
When I first heard the words “dirty bomb” I thought it was something perverted that Europeans did to one another, but I was wrong. Dirty Bomb is a class-based shooter that puts teamwork center-stage. There are a variety of characters that can fill different combat roles and different weapons that let you customize their play style. Instead of bland open design, maps are crafted to encourage aggressive play and strategy. Thinking quickly and fighting creatively are what give promise to this game.
Instead of just 5 classes you pick from a roster of mercenary characters. The mercs have primary abilities such as calling in artillery strikes, dropping ammo, giving health packs, and completing objectives faster. They also have other secondary abilities like laying mines, placing remote charges, or calling a giant space laser out of the sky that gives each character some unique flavor. Load-out cards change the perks and weapons they can have. So each Merc represents a certain game-play style and each load-out card can augment it even further. What this translates into is dozens of ways to play a role for the team.
The gun-play is a huge improvement over the previous studio’s game Brink which would require players to soak up rounds of bullets before going down. Now it only takes a few well-place rounds to down an enemy. The deadlier bullets demand that players take deliberate action whether that is taking cover, returning fire, or retreating. The game focuses on flight just as much as fight. An effortless movement system gives the player mobility across the map. A crouch-jump will take you a little further than a normal jump and wall-jumping will allow you to keep that momentum. The furious speed of the movement combines with the gun-play to create moments that will have you bragging to your friends. Combine that with the intricately constructed maps and it can give you a better firing position or a quick escape.
The game uses a free-to-play model that is reminiscent of MOBA games like League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. Mercs can be bought for $10 or 50,000 in-game credits. Not to worry for those starting out with no money, they have a rotation of 3 mercs that changes every week. Now each of these mercs has a set number of load-out cards. Each of these cards has one of six grades. The first three will add one perk until you hit three, this is the bronze grade. Beyond that, there is no more gameplay benefit and it’s just cosmetic bling. What this means is that while the game isn’t play-to-win it will require investing some time.
Now suppose you don’t care about bling and you don’t want to wait for your favorite character’s load-out to just drop in the cases that are handed out at the end of matches. Well there are avenues for you to reach that goal. You can upgrade cards of equal or lesser value to have a chance at getting a merc’s card at a particular grade or you can outright buy the load out card individually. Each of these cost in-game credits or money so you will have to decide which way is worth for you. Fortunately in-game credits are not hard to come by. The game has dozens of tiny ways to reward and entice players to continue playing.
At the time of this writing there are twp game types Objective and Stopwatch. In Objective the players are split into two teams, the attackers and the defenders. The attackers are the ones trying to complete the objectives, while the defenders are trying to stop them at all costs. The match is over when the attackers complete the objectives or the defenders deter them until the time limit runs out. In Stopwatch this remains the same except at the end the teams switch sides and the new attacking team has to complete the objectives in the amount of time the other team did in order to win.
There are two to three objectives to complete in each map. Completing one will open up another part of the map, move spawns forward, and add more time to the game. The game is always teetering on the razor’s edge, and is prudent in handing out time. If an attacking team is good and completes the first objective right away, then they have 15 minutes to finish the final objective. Conversely if the defending team is good then they only have 6 minutes to defend the first objective and win. The result is everyone becomes incentivized to play at 100%. The short matches also have a positive effect on the losing team. There are times where no matter what you do your team is just getting bodied. Doesn’t matter how good you are, the team just isn’t working together. Now normally this could ruin a standard FPS match. It could last for up to an hour! Thanks to modern game design, Dirty Bomb has put a cap on the time. Taking a book out of other free-to-play games, most matches are designed to last no longer than 15 minutes and at the most 25 minutes, but this is rare.
The question you are asking yourself is “Should I play this game?” and “Is this game worth my money?” Well that depends on your tastes. If were expecting a Call of Duty style deathmatch game then you will be disappointed. It has more in common with Quake 3 than Counterstrike. The gun-play is decidedly old school and the game relies on teamwork. While the teamwork mechanics are streamline and obvious, that does not stop some people from ignoring the role they are supposed to play, which is frustrating for everyone and insufferable for some. Dirty Bomb is not an original game, but it is a well-crafted game that focuses on gameplay and teamwork. If you are looking for something complex and strategic then you owe it yourself to download this game.
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