You would think I would know better, but when a developer promises things like dinosaurs, co-op experience, endless worlds, and jet-packs you think to yourself this could be the best thing ever. But realistically most of these projects are pure shit and not worth your money. Cue Spiral Game Studios, a little developer making a game that promises all these things using the Unreal Engine called ORION: Dino Beatdown.
Yes, this. I thought it was a good idea to buy this hoping for something similar to Killing Floor (a good game) with dinosaurs. My dinosaur blinders were on this morning when I made this purchase, and I could have gotten myself two Java Chip Frappachinos at Starbucks with the eight bucks I wasted. I probably would have gotten a lot more joy out of those two Frappachinos than I would playing this game. The game play was so bad it inspired me to write … and that takes a serious amount of inspiration.
The first problem I had with the game is that it crashes, and it crashes a lot. Now problems like this are sometimes due to first day jitters on a multiplayer game and are generally patched in the next couple days or so depending on how much the devs are actually watching the launch. It looks as though you can start a game well enough, but if anyone leaves the game crashes everyone in that server.
So even if I was to dismiss the crashes, the gameplay leaves much to be desired. Let me go ahead and start a new game:
So we load up in front of a huge monitor whose color is inspired (or stolen) directly from Deus Ex. It just sits there because nothing in this starting bunker is able to be interacted with. I would have thought that there would be a place to purchase upgrades or something with the starting credits … but no. The game just insists that I use my little pistol and activate the power generators out in the middle of the “endless” world.
So let’s go ahead and activate those generators!
As you can see the UI is chock full of information and your objectives are symbolized by different color triangles. Head towards them to win the game! Well in this case we want to head towards them to turn on the generator … there really is no story behind turning on these generators or why we are doing it. We’re just kind of doing it so we can attract the horde of three types of dinosaurs at us.
Here come the raptors! All three of them! And they are avoiding me and running right to the generator … I’m shooting them and they grunt and eventually fall over. I kill two in a row and the most unenthusiastic “double kill” is said in a voice that could only have been recorded in Windows Voice Recorder. I then see a T-Rex just pop out of no where, run over, and kill me instantly. My first game of Dino Beatdown (I keep forgetting the ORION part but it just doesn’t seem to matter) was a rousing success.
When you die, you see a weird zoom out of your guy going rag doll and a breakdown of the round. Click one button and it then throws you right back into a new game.
So we start anew on one of the three levels you can play: desert, forest, and mountains. I appear to have spawned on the mountain level. As you can see we need to get those generators working so we can get our upgrades!
You can tell a lot of the mechanics of the game are inspired by Halo. Even the vehicles, which are always parked outside the generators, look and feel almost like the Warthogs in Halo. You drive them and a second person can come and mount the turret. Running over dinosaurs, however, does not appear to be a great strategy as it does next to no damage and if your vehicles dies it will instantly kill you.
You will face three types of enemies: raptor, pterodactyl, and tyrannosaurus. That appears to be it unless there is some secret boss type dinosaur I have not yet discovered. Random dinosaurs are spawned throughout the level and you can feel free to kill them, but objective kills will have red triangles above their heads. You need to kill the objective dinosaurs to move on to the next wave.
The game does boast “advanced dinosaur AI,” I’m not sure what that is … but I assume it has something to do with the T-Rex being able to pick up dirt and throw it at me with his mouth. Pterodactylus circle around in the air and occasionally pick you up, you just need to punch them to be let go. But you should be careful as half the time I was dropped I fell through the world and that means game over! So enough about the dinosaurs … In my next game I came upon this gem:
Yes, a mech suit that not only has a ridiculous amount of ammo but recharging missile launchers. Sure the mech suit has really bad animation, but it kicks ass and takes names. It plowed through three or four waves, even taking out a pair of T-Rexes that wanted to toss dirt bombs at me. Finally I was overwhelmed by the dino horde and my mech suit exploded ending my mega kill streak and desire to boot this game up again.
So what did I learn today about ORION: Dino Beatdown? It’s not a very good game and if you are hoping for a Killing Floor type game with dinosaurs you will be very disappointed. It has a lot of mechanics similar to Halo such as the jetpack, regenerating shields, and vehicle handling. It doesn’t come together well and just feels unpolished and probably unfinished. The coding for multiplayer is a mess and crashes a lot, that needs to be addressed because the only real way to have fun with this game is to play with some friends. The sounds are really uninspiring, I have never heard a more boring exclamation of “Mega Kill” at the end of my killstreak.
If you really hate the idea of having eight dollars, then maybe you should look for something else. This is a pretty poorly made game that will probably hit a “pay what you want” indie bundle soon … hopefully after the devs have fixed it up a bit. Bottom line is don’t let the dinosaurs fool you into parting with your money on this one.
Enjoy a video of me getting in my mech suit and shooting up the place, you can hear the kill announcer and all his enthusiasm: