Review: Blockstorm – A Minecraft-Style FPS

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TITLE: Blockstorm
DEVELOPER: GhostShark
PUBLISHER: IndieGala
GENRE: Voxel-style FPS
PLATFORM: Steam
EARLY ACCESS DATE: June 6, 2014

These days, it seems like the idea of opening a game to Steam’s “early access” mode is the way a lot of developers like to handle beta testing. In a way, though, it seems like a pretty good idea as well as a lucrative one. Essentially, by opening a game up to early access, the company behind it can get some money up-front to pay for the continued development of the game as well as get some beta testers on board. In a way, it seems sort of like the idea of Kickstarter, except that you already have to have a somewhat-finished product to work with.

Blockstorm is a game that I’d heard of before and read about at various points, and although it looked pretty cool at the time, it just didn’t stick with me to where I felt I needed to look up more about it. Part of this is likely due to the fact that, as a whole, I’m not hugely into first-person shooters; don’t get me wrong: I’m not against them either. I used to play stuff like Goldeneye 007 back in the day, and even had my time where I was really into Counter-Strike in my early college years, so I’m not a stranger to the genre. Generally, I just won’t gravitate to these types of games, and that’s probably why I overlooked this one at first. Having been given a copy of the game from the great PR Hound, my uncertain nature quickly gave way to admiration for an awesome product.

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First things first: if you think that by being a voxel game this title will lose out in terms of graphics, shading, lighting effects, character details, and much more – you’re wrong. In fact, despite still being a block-based world, the game’s graphics are really nice, on par with what you can do in Minecraft when you install a bunch of custom shading mods along with ultra high-res graphic choices. Here, the world around you has full shadows with good light-sourcing, and the character models are surprisingly detailed. Even the basic models are really cool, but one thing that players will really like (that is, if they have a lot of time on their hands) is that there’s a full-featured editor available – right down to each individual pixel that makes up the character models, letting you paint pretty much whatever it is you envision for your character. Time-consuming? Yes. But awesome? Definitely!

When I first fired up the game, the very first thing that stuck with me was the music. Now, yes, this is a first-person shooter and unlike a lot of games, I wouldn’t say that music will make or break it, but the song that fires up when you load the game is pretty awesome. Really, it’s a great way to hook you in and then get your adrenaline fired up so you want to log on and go shoot some folks!

The combat in the game is right up there with the aforementioned Counter-Strike in my opinion, and the game runs so smoothly that it’s easy to get lost in trying to shoot people and forget about some of the other really cool aspects of the title, like the fact that you can literally destroy just about anything in the map. Is the tree in your way? Cut it down with a volley from your AK-47. Can’t get around that wall? Toss a grenade at it and stand back. You also have a shovel you can use to dig, plus you have a block tool you can use to construct things. So, in essence, each map is a living organism you can work with on the fly, resulting in some really cool matches to participate in!

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Another strong selling point of this game is the fact that all of the tools used by the game’s developers to create the character models and maps you see are freely available in the game for you to use to make your own characters (as mentioned before) and your own awesome custom maps. So, not only is the game itself a hybrid in its gameplay by mixing in construction and destruction aspects, but, if you want, you can spend hours making really great custom maps to share and play online.

This game is technically early access as I write this review, but I’ve been told this is very close to what the “final” product will be like, and thus have no qualms with providing a score here for this game.

Ultimately, with the game only costing $11.99 on Steam (or $39.99 for four copies), I find that for the large volume of content this one has to offer, you simply really can’t go wrong here.

Score: A

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