Below is a preview of my Natural Selection 2 review, the full thing can be found over at PixelJudge. Additionally, it also marks one of the first hurdles the site has faced. We recently had a colleague leave quite suddenly. There was drama involved of course, but it turns out that he was given a review copy of NS2 as well, to take on the appeal for the review, which he refused to do. This would be the second time that this has occurred. A heated conversation occurred between him and the our editor, and he did the digital equivalent of stomping out of the office yelling. Enough of that, however. On to the review:
Natural Selection 2 is a game about the survival of the fittest. Unlike the scientific principle of its name, it is not a random, circumstantial process, but one decided by two battling deities, influencing and supporting their people from above. A combination of real-time strategy and first-person shooter multiplayer, NS2 is a unique beast. Is it a species that will grow a flourishing community, or is it bound for extinction?
NS2 is a game that I will almost always feel under qualified to speak about. Aside from a passing acquaintance with the first and some time with Nuclear Dawn, I havenít engaged with any similar hybrids of this nature. Mostly because there simply havenít been many. NS2 is also a game undergoing constant evolution. During the beta updates would be released regularly almost twice a week, sometimes more. These ranged from bug fixes to numbers and map adjustments, and constantly tweaked the balance of the game. Itís an adjustment that will go unnoticed by all but the dedicated, but it speaks volumes about the developers and the community that NS2 has built, even before release.
Itís a community thatís been built partly from necessity. NS2 is a game with an almost overwhelming learning curve. Before you even join your first match, it is recommended that you spend an hour or two learning the mechanics of the game from both sides and perspectives by watching the tutorials and using the gameís Explore mode to familiarize yourself with the maps. For those completely fresh to NS2, hereís the crash course: NS2 is an asymmetrical multiplayer title in the format of space marines vs. aliens. Each sideís goal is to attempt to control the map and destroy all of the opposing teamís command stations. Marines are equipped with a variety of long range, rapid firing weapons ranging from the standard assault rifle, to the devastating flamethrower. Aliens, for the most part, lack long range options and are forced to close the distance before they can inflict damage. In order to counterbalance this, aliens will need to hunt in packs, single out lone marines, and use guerilla tactics, appearing and disappearing through vents and performing hit and run attacks. Itís a dynamic that leads to frantic and dramatic encounters, with panicked marines firing in all directions attempting to hit aliens moving with vicious speed across the room. The dynamics and vulnerabilities also force players to cooperate with each other, as lone players are not likely to survive.