Defiance Review: A world of trouble
- Posted April 21st, 2013 at 23:21 EDT by Will Robinson
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The successes of Defiance are quickly overshadowed by its flaws. Trion Worlds promises that Defiance will continue to evolve and improve. I hope so: beneath the muck is a game that deserves better.
- Solid gameplay
- One of the only MMOs on PS3
- Forgettable story and characters
- Extremely repetitive
- A lot of technical issues
(continued from previous page) ...MMO on home consoles and limitations not faced by primarily offline games are to be expected.
Character models are well-rendered and demonstrate good body animations, but facial animation is practically nonexistent. The mouth is all that is noticeably animated--and man, is it animated poorly. Honestly, I have seen original PlayStation games with better animation. For making characters feel relatable, this lack of attention to expression is crippling and only accentuates the mediocre voice acting. Another hindrance is the overuse of fake alien curse words like “shtako.” Characters only seem to know two or three alien curses and forcibly use them as if to meet a swearing quota. It’s not long into the game before viewing cutscenes almost becomes more of a chore than a reward.
Thankfully, Defiance is more than just a bland story with lifeless characters. It's also a solid third-person shooter. While not as polished as its genre forebears, Defiance manages to hold its own. Its mechanics and action are comparable to Borderlands. Your character can equip a primary and secondary weapon, a type of grenade, and a shield. Depending on your progress, you are able to equip a vehicle that you can summon on demand to traverse the harsh landscape. Perks are also equippable through the use of your Environmental Guardian Online (EGO) implant. Leveling up your character by earning XP will grant you EGO points which you can use to purchase and equip various perks. Once the slots are unlocked, you are able to equip up to nine different perks. Your EGO is also able to level up and reflects your character’s overall level seen by other players. This level, referred to as an EGO rating, means absolutely nothing apart from 'This person has been playing for awhile' and that they might have unlocked a cool car to drive.
Strangely, your EGO rating improves sporadically depending on the types of missions you play. Some improve your EGO by one, others 50. There is no level cap as far as we know, but there IS a gold trophy for having an EGO rating of 2500. Yes, you read that right, 2500. Also, our characters statistics remain the same throughout the game, regardless of the amount of XP you've earned or your EGO rating. Trion Worlds argues this allows players at any level to play together on equal footing.
Things get even more complex when you find out Defiance features no less than five (!) forms of currency. Scrip buys guns and weapon mods from electronic vendors. Bits can be had for real-world money and spent on specialized character boosts. Ark Salvage--from enemy loot and quest rewards--can be used to buy Keycodes (which can also be built from Keycode Fragments) that, finally, yield Lock Boxes with "random items of at least uncommon rarity." It's a complicated mess with no explanation at the game's outset, and ultimately rather pointless: gear obtained during missions is typically better than anything you can purchase from vendors or find in Lock Boxes.
Thankfully, there's a heap of content outside of the main story missions. Episode Missions follow the adventures of Nolan and Irisa, the main characters from the TV show. Yes, eagle-eyed reader, the TV show IS set near St. Louis. Nolan and Irisa ARE on the other side of the country. And, for whatever reason, you ARE able to inexplicably get them what they need. Maybe things will eventually make sense--every week, a new Episode Mission will be released alongside new episodes of the show.
Meanwhile, Side Missions serve little purpose beyond earning paltry amounts of Scrip and possibly getting a new piece of equipment. Some Side Missions are tied to various factions found in the game and completion of these missions puts you in their favor. Otherwise, they are uninteresting and lose whatever charm they had very quickly. Hotshot, Time Trial, and Rampage missions are additional quests that can be replayed as often as you like. Through these, you can earn XP, Scrip, and Ark Salvage while scoring leaderboard positions for bragging rights. But why would you subject yourself? All missions are severely repetitive, have scarce player interaction, and give little in the way of rewards for your efforts.
The first instance of feeling as though you are playing an MMO is when you run across an Arkfall. These events happen ... (continued on next page)