Warmonger - Operation: Downtown Destruction Preview

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Publisher: N/A
Developer: NetDevil

Platform: PC
Official Site: netdevil.com/games/warmonger.php

Every Miss America contender may want world peace, but when oil stands between major military conglomerates, global war is all that can result. Competition between the largest military contractors, PolyChem Oil and General Energy finally came to a head when both companies sought to secure access to a cache of Iranian oil fields in the late 2020's. When negotiations failed, covert operatives destroyed the PolyChem Oil headquarters in New York. Armed retaliation was inevitable.

By 2029, the Global Corporate Wars have subsumed society, and the biggest battlegrounds are major cities on US soil. Groups of mercenaries battle for control over the few tactically significant sites that still stand among the rubble. And by doing so, reduce the remaining rubble to mere dust.

Projected Release: Third Quarter, 2007

Kyle Ackerman

Warmonger – Operation: Downtown Destruction is much more than another online multiplayer shooter. It's an orgy of destruction – and I mean that in the best possible sense. Thinking about the massive scale of destruction that developer NetDevil delivered in Auto Assault, NetDevil emphasized, "We love to blow stuff up, but wanted to do it better and more."

Would There be Global War Without a Physics Card?

Warmonger is the result of NetDevil's partnership with hardware manufacturer AGEIA, a company that makes dedicated physics processor cards. In fact, that partnership means that Warmonger will be absolutely free. Even if the game sucked, it would be worth picking up. And it won't suck. I got to spend a lot of time with the game, and I want to play more. The only catch is, you'll need a physics card to see the game in its glory. And since AGEIA currently makes the only one, you'll need the AGEIA PhysX card to play Warmonger. That's not the only reason to get one, either.

Most computers simply don't have the processing power to blow up absolutely everything. That's why canvas curtains will stop rockets and when you demolish an automobile the car never becomes interactive, the pristine car model is simply replaced with a damaged model.

Warmonger is designed to take advantage of the processing power of AGEIA's cards. That means in Warmonger, nearly everything can be reduced to rubble, and because the destruction follows physics-based calculations, it's different every time. By taking advantage of the AGEIA PhysX card, the flow of combat shifts on maps, depending on what you've just reduced to dust. Better yet, the final build should include fabric that flaps or tears when struck by flying lead, and metal surfaces that can be deformed, bent and broken by hammer and rocket alike.

Safety is an Illusion

I got to play a build of Warmonger, engaging in team-based assault/defense style matches, and already the game delivers on NetDevil's promise to "make destruction a gameplay feature." In fact, for the first few matches, I repeatedly revealed my own position because I'd discovered something new to blast with a rocket, just to see it smolder. Ceilings can be forced to collapse on enemies (or friends), cars and concrete barriers can be blasted out of the way and walls can be eliminated to create entirely new paths to victory.

I spent a lot of time on a parking garage map that perfectly illustrates both the offensive and defensive implications of the AGEIA-powered destruction. The basic parking garage structure is still standing in the midst of a city strewn with rubble. Attackers must carry a flag from far away to a goal at the top of the structure. While players can traverse the conventional ramps, replete with cover, to reach the top, there are also three stairwells surrounding the garage. The stairwells are easy shortcuts to victory, so it is imperative that the defenders reduce the stairs to rubble or lose immediately. At the same time, attackers can blast through walls to bypass obstacles, or use explosives to move buses and cars for better cover.

Floor and Ceiling are Relative

All the character configurations get their share of explosives and devastating weapons, so it's easy enough to wreck the landscape. Still, not everything is destructible. Producer Chris Sherland talked about some of the early test maps, when everything was destructible. Both sides would blast the entire level into debris, leaving very little to battle over. While there may be maps that support that style of play (perhaps aiming to level the opponents' apartment building), enough of the map has to resist destruction to ensure that the attacking team has somewhere left to carry the flag to.

Sherland emphasized that Warmonger will eliminate "duck and cover" style gameplay in which defenders pop out from behind impenetrable barriers, like a horrific form of "whack-a-mole." Instead, the Warmonger team is striving for a sense of vulnerability that increases the tension of being involved in a battle. From my experience with the game, it works. Several times I was hiding behind a brick wall, hoping to recover from a few stray bullets when an RPG-toting enemy simply vaporized the wall, and me along with it. Cover just isn't the same. Still, the basic structure of the parking garage had to remain, or there would have been nothing over which to fight.

Three Ways to Powder Concrete

Much of Warmonger will be familiar to fans of multiplayer online shooters. It's being built using the Unreal Engine 3 and is easily as attractive as other available games, with the added bonus of AGEIA-powered effects such as fancy smoke that responds to the flight of an incoming rocket. At release, there will be three weapon configurations. Each will have a claw hammer and pistol, augmented by enough destructive power to reshape the landscape at will or just splatter foes across the concrete. The standard assault rifle sports both a scope and the ability to launch sticky grenades. A chain gun fires rounds rapidly enough to chew through concrete and can be deployed with a defensive shield, making it ideal for holding tactical choke-points. Finally, the brutally explosive RPG has a scope to allow players to identify pinpoint locations for massive explosions.

Not all maps will be urban wastelands. While NetDevil plans to release several maps best suited for 16 on 16 play, the game will handle up to 64 players in a single match. Of course, some maps will be designed for smaller groups, providing a faster play experience. Also expect some vast outdoor levels – fairly flat locales with plenty of flimsy cover. In other words, there will be plenty of places to hide from sight, but few places to hide from bullets, let alone rockets. There will also be some form of single-player tutorial to get players accustomed to the sheer scale of destruction in Warmonger.

Ultimately, Net Devil hopes to substantially add to the already entertaining Warmonger experience. Over time, the team would love to add more maps, other types of matches, and new weapon configurations. Again, Warmonger is being released for free to show off the power of the AGEIA processor – to the joy of online shooter fans. Even in it's current beta state, Warmonger is more than worth the price of admission, and it should truly prove jaw-dropping once spit-and-polished for release.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 24, 2007 7:40 PM.

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