Gamania's Core Blaze
is an exciting prospect on the upcoming free-to-play game market. This
title is a fast-action game using the Unreal 3 engine
that focuses on cooperative team play. It's pretty sleek, too.
First off, there are no "classes" as we know them in Core Blaze. Every character starts off pretty much the same. How the player develops, though, can vary greatly. Some may opt to wield a huge sword, while others may take a ranged approach. In the end, players will end up as one of four weapon specializations: dual blades, giant swords, sword and shield or the bow. Play to your playstyle; you can switch any time!
So, enough about skills. How does the game actually play?
We entered into an instanced dungeon in our hands-on time with the game. We were a team of four. Immediately noticeable was the smooth animations of the game. It felt natural moving around and crawling our way through the dark caverns. Core Blaze can be played with either keyboard and mouse or a gamepad, however I opted to play using the keyboard and mouse.
The interface itself was very clean. There was no clutter on the screen as the only thing displayed were things you needed. You know, stuff like party health and "soul power" (which can be likened to mana). The game certainly had a good start.
As we wound our way through the caverns we met our first encounters. Now was the time to try out some combat.
Combo-based action MMOGs are starting to make a presence in the MMO space and Core Blaze has come in with guns.. well, blazing. There are several standard attacks based on which type of weapon you use, but each attack can also be chained and used in combo. For the mouse and keyboard players, left click was one type of attack, while right click performed another, and clicking both mouse buttons would perform a third. Of course, each of those attacks could be chained off each other, making for some truly memorable and fluid combos.
I was playing a character using a Great Sword. I was particularly impressed with how realistic the attacks felt. The sword was monstrous, and it was heavy. It actually felt heavy too. I couldn't just pick it up and wave it around all willy-nilly. Each attack took time as my character heaved the giant sword around. As such, it was important to plan my attacks, as a miss would cost me valuable time in the fight. This added an element that I was not expecting from an action game, and that was the element of strategy. I had to think about things and couldn't just mash buttons and hope for the best.
Strategy enters the game in several different ways. We were told that the end dragon-type boss we fought could be killed using very specific strategies. Launching flash grenades would disorient it, while attacking it's teeth would only enrage it. There was some talk too, that if you attacked its legs you could eventually break them. Of course, being the newbies we were we didn't get too much of a chance to work out the strategy but it was good to know that the option was there for when we would become actually good players.
As your character progresses you can unlock additional skills, which will open up more opportunities and actual content. You may be able to complete a dungeon once, but if you came back later after picking up the grappling hook, as an example, you could use that grappling hook in specific areas and find entire new areas of the dungeon featuring new enemies, bosses and loot. In this way the game never gets old as there's always something new to discover in every dungeon. Replayability is a huge feature that has nailed implementation.
What else can you do in Core Blaze? Plenty! There are sub-menus that allow for not only different attacks, but also item use. We were shown that our characters were carrying around flasks of oil. We could pour this oil onto the ground and then use one of our torches (which also obviously acted as a light source in certain situations), and we could light the oil, burning anything that came close. Strategically this could put a wall between you and your enemies should you need to buy some time. Grenades, health and soul potions, and a plethora of other items filled up the sub menus which fleshed out the game play experience in such a way that I felt very much empowered as to how I was going to play the game. The choices were plenty, and how I played the game was entirely up to me.
So, how does the game translate for a Western audience? The characters themselves are somewhat stylized in an Eastern direction, but that's not at all a bad thing. This is the type of game we want to see in North America. It's got everything we crave: fantastic combat, great animation, challenging puzzles, and most of all, limitless choices. This game was the highlight of the Gamania Game Show for me and I can't wait to get some more time with Core Blaze.