The Switch is home to many, many types of game. Graphic novels? Kart racers? Child raising sims? It has you covered. A genre that is surprisingly lacking on Nintendo’s spunky little hybrid is the FPS – specifically the modern military kind, with online multiplayer. Crytek saw this monstrous, suspiciously Call of Duty sized hole, and sought to fill it with their Free-to-Play shooter – Warface.
At its core, Warface is a competitive military shooter. It wants you to hop into a game, get a few kills, fill your brain with all kinds of happy chemicals and then repeat until your coffers are dry, or the servers have been shut down. In order to get its hooks into you, it offers a variety of game modes in which to test your skill, and coordination with randoms. These range from your typical Team Death Match, to Free-for-All, to Bomb Disposal/Planting. Each mode appears to be well supported, with plenty of players active in each, allowing anyone to play anything.
Once you hop into a game, you can select your Class. Each Class has a specific type of weapon and support abilities, giving you vastly different experiences based on your choice. Snipers pack long range rifles (naturally), whilst Medics run around with shotguns, medkits and defibrillators. You can even play as a mini-gun toting robot, akin to a classic Terminator movie, if you so desire. The Classes are interestingly varied, with unlockable weapons to tailor your murdering experience. It is a shame you can’t expand your pool of weapon types between classes however.
Whilst you run and gun, you have a few additional options when it comes to engaging. You have the typical sprinting, crouching and going prone, which is to be expected. Mixing things up is an incredibly effective slide, which allows you to dodge bullets and gain a surprising amount of speed. You can also work with your teammates to boost yourself up to high ledges, opening up the maps significantly if you’re willing to work together.
The maps themselves are sufficiently large, with lots of choke points and flanking opportunities. Unfortunately in many modes, spawn camping is a very real possibility, resulting in cheap deaths. In Free-for-All, spawning often drops you in the middle of engagements, again, resulting in unforseen, frustrating deaths.
If you don’t fancy yourself a competitive player, fear not – Warface has you covered. There are a number of Co-op content for you to sink your teeth into. You will initially be limited to a couple, fairly simple maps with objectives to complete, enemies to kill and plenty of ammo to go around. As you unlock harder maps however, the game gives you additional challenges to achieve as a team. These could be getting X number of headshots with a pistol, or just completing the mission as quickly as possible. This is a mostly mindless murder simulator, against equally mindless AI, albeit an incredibly satisfying one.
For the more seasoned Co-op’er, you can delve into the hardcore world of Spec Ops. These missions take the general structure of the regular game, and ramp them up to ludicrous levels. Enemies come in droves, objectives require teamwork to complete, and death is significantly more permanent. If Co-op is an appetiser, Spec Ops is the main course. You will need a team of players who know what they are doing, a hefty amount of skill and maybe a little bit of luck to come out alive. Imagine raids from a game like Destiny, but a smidge simpler in execution.
This all sounds amazing. I mean, Warface is a free game. There is so much to do, and a fair amount to see – what’s not to like? Well, once you actually jump into a game, it all becomes clear. Warface looks, and runs, like a corpse on the Switch. Frames drop constantly, character models are ugly and environments are incredibly low res, with aliasing on every surface. This looks like a slightly tarted up Wii game, and runs like one too. The game is constantly dropping frames, jerking around like a randy teenager. When you are not squinting trying to discern where the enemy is, you are fighting the game to even get a consistently accurate shot as the world goes into slo-mo, seemingly at random.
Things only get worse in handheld mode. The graphics take a noticeable hit, with the game continuing to take numerous dips into the lower echelons of the frames pool. The biggest hurdle to handheld is the complete lack of fidelity. On a smaller screen, it makes everything even more of a squint fest. Is that an enemy, or just a poorly rendered bit of potpourri? Chances are, it is meant to be some sort of chair. The icing on the cake, is the games text hasn’t been scaled properly, with the majority of it mostly illegible.
Despite its truly awful performance, Warface manages to deliver in droves when it comes to sound design. Guns sound suitably powerful, with the sounds of combat coalescing into a cacophony of carnage. Explosions, bullets and the screams of the fallen all sound amazing. If you close your eyes, it sounds like a video-game battlefield shout – destructively enticing. Had the game ran better, the effects could literally carry the game. Poor graphics? No problem, let Warface carry you away on a cloud of auditory immersion.
Often a sought after feature in modern Switch releases is Gyro-Controls. Warface, for better, or for worse, provides such an option. They even have it switched on by default. In theory, this will allow you to make fine adjustments to your aim. In execution the system is overturned to the point of madness. Every single movement, no matter how trivial, is recreated almost 1-1 on screen. Are you breathing? Well, your character will be having a fit on the floor as a result. The camera is constantly jerking around, whilst the game is jerking around, and all the while you are getting a rapidly worsening headache. Had they added some sort of intelligent deadzoning, which removes unwanted motion, this would have been a great feature. But like the rest of the port, it comes across half-arsed.
Crytek had the audacity to release such a shoddy port, yet still fill it with the usual suspects when it comes to preying on the mentally ill. Loot boxes, premium skins, and even guns can be bought with real money. At best, this is borderline pay-to-win. At worst, this is the same predatory cancer that plagues the industry as a whole. To top it all off, it even provides a Battle Pass. Warface does not deserve the time investment to even consider spending money on it. It barely warrants playing for free in its current state.
Warface’s biggest failing however, is that this is actually a good game at its core. The combat, when it actually works in fantastic. The class system is fun to mess around with. Unlocking new weapons and armour is as satisfying as any other game in the genre. The content on offer is substantial, and worth experiencing. Just not on the Switch. The only redeeming quality of Warface, is that there aren’t many games like it on the platform. If the only tangible praise one can give a game is – “there aren’t many to choose from”, then it has a serious problem.
As much as the Switch port of Warface is a resounding dud, the game has potential. The core of the experience is there, and does, from time to time, show it’s ‘Warface’. I genuinely hope Crytek works on this game, and makes it worth playing. As it stands, Warface is a badly optimised mess.
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