Nuclear Dawn [Review]

Jarret Redding
Executive Editor
 
October 5th, 2011

Nuclear Dawn

You know what takes balls?  Making a multiplayer only game; especially if you’re not a well-known publisher, developer, or have don’t have a well-known IP.  Not only does your game need to be good, it needs a community to survive.  You can make the best multiplayer game in the world, but if it doesn’t pick up and grow a community, it’s doesn’t matter.  Another item that affects multiplayer games more than single player games are bugs.  In most single player games, players will work around the bugs until a patch comes out.  However, with multiplayer games a few bugs can kill your entire community.  If you don’t believe me, tell me how many of your friend are playing BRINK.

Luckily for us, some developers have the stones to take on this challenge.  Interwave Studios is one of these developers.  On September 26th, they released Nuclear Dawn; a team based FPS that, while it uses some things we’ve seen before, definitely brings some new game play mechanics that I haven’t seen used in an FPS before; namely RTS elements.  Nuclear Dawn is set on a war-torn post-apocalyptic Earth.  There really is no story so I can only imagine that some type of nuclear holocaust occurred.  The levels may look a bit familiar as they are based on modern cities.  Places like NYC and Tokyo should be pretty easy to recognize.

Currently, Nuclear Dawn only has one game mode, Warzone.  The objective of Warzone is to destroy your enemies command bunker.  Now, if you want to try, you can just go from your spawn and try to fight your way to your enemy’s base and destroy the bunker.  This will fail every time.  Your spawn is far from their base, there are a lot of enemies to fight through, and you will probably just die to turrets that any smart commander would put up.  So what exactly can you do then to win?  That’s what makes Nuclear Dawn so unique.

Nuclear Dawn

Both teams have a Commander.  This isn’t a new idea, but in Nuclear Dawn it actually matters who your commander is.  While the commander can join the fray by fighting the enemy directly, they are needed in the command bunker where they have an RTS style view of the battlefield.  It is there job to build structures, set objectives, research upgrades, and even provide intel, artillery strikes, and poison gas drops that will help your team push forward.  The commander is the most important player on your team.  If they don’t build the right structures, push the infrastructure forward, or research the right upgrades, you will find yourself struggling to keep the enemy pushed back.  In short, if your commander fails, you fail.

In order to make it to the enemy base your commander will need to build your base infrastructure throughout each map.  If you can manage to build close enough to the enemy base you should have everything you need to take it down.  There are several structures you can build, but all require power.  You can build power generators and then link repeaters to them that will help spread your power grid so you can build out structures to help you push forward.  A major part of the game is pushing your infrastructure forward, while pushing your enemies back.

There are a few structures you will use out in the field such as power repeaters, gun turrets, rocket turrets, forward spawning points, and sometimes you will need to drop an additional power generator out there.  There are several other structures to build, but most of them only need to stay in base since they are typically used to research upgrades that provide more weapon kits and give you access to more structures.  Every structure requires money, which is where resource points come in.

Every map has at least one primary resource point and several smaller ones.  The largest resource point, which naturally brings in the most cash, requires a minimum of two players from your team to capture.  Smaller resources only require one, but the more people around, the faster you can capture the point.  Without resources, you will not be able to build the structures you need, which makes resource starving your opponent a very viable strategy.  While the commander can set the tone of the battle, it’s the troops on the ground that will be duking it out for resources and territory.

Nuclear Dawn
Interwave Studios
Score
4.3\5
Visuals
4
Nuclear Dawn uses the Source Engine and quite well I might add. While there are engines that do look better these days, all of the weapons effects, environments, and character models look good. Also, high framerate doesn't hurt either.
Sound
3.5
The sound had to be the low point of the game. While it didn't sound bad, it definitely could be better. Weapon sounds didn't really feel solid. Felt very fake. The Exo's chaingun could definitely use a bit more punch behind such a strong weapon.
Controls
4.5
The controls are pretty standard for what you would see on an FPS and they work very well. The only problem I had is that you could only hit the "1" key to switch weapons. I found myself at first trying to hit my other number keys to pull out other weapons, but I had to cycle through with just the "1" key. I really hope they change this.
Game Play
5
While most team based game do require teamwork, Nuclear Dawn takes it to the next level. No teamwork, no win; it's that simple. Commanders need to communicate with their soldiers and work together to push into their enemies bases. Nuclear Dawn offers a variety of classes that are very different from each other so it's easy to vary your game play experience. The RTS aspects definitely add a welcome twist to the genre.
Fun
4.5
I had nothing but fun playing this game. The only problem is that if you are losing, it can be a long process before the next match begins.

META

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Featured | PC | Review

Jarret is Editor-in-Chief as well as one of the founding members of Mash Those Buttons. He's been playing games since before he could read and that's turned into a love of all things game related. His favorite genres include FPS, RTS, racing, and action-adventure platforming. He is currently spending way too much time playing Starcraft II followed by Team Fortress 2.

Specialty: FPS