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Defiance - Review


Defiance Review for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC at GAME

Fight Together, Survive Together

Defiance is a game kicking down a lot of doors at once. It's an ambitious massively multiplayer online game for consoles as well as PC, more shooter than role-player but no less impressive for the sheer scale of the experience on platforms that have previously made do with small gameplay lobbies. It's also one half of a bold cross-media project developed in partnership between TV's Syfy Channel and game studio Trion Worlds. Defiance the game takes place in the same world as Defiance the TV show, and each will influence the other over the coming months.

Raiders Of The Fallen Ark

You start by creating your own Arkhunter, a roguish loot-seeking survivor living on a terraformed Earth, where a conglomerate of alien races known collectively as the Votan now share an uneasy truce with the human race. There's a lengthy storyline running through the game, centred around the battle for possession of a piece of powerful alien tech, but that's really just the introductory course, the spine from which the rest of Defiance grows.

The map is covered with bonus side missions, checkpoint races and survival mode rampages, not to mention unmarked events that you stumble across unexpectedly. You may find some ranchers being held hostage by raiders, or an infestation of "hellbugs" that needs clearing out. It's up to you whether or not to intervene, but for those who do engage with the world the reward is paid in experience and "scrip", the game's main currency.

Defiance Review for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC at GAME

Experience levels up your EGO system, an integrated AI that grants the user one powerful ability - cloaking, super-speed, enhanced damage or a hologram decoy. Perks can also be earned, making you more resilient, or granting combat advantages against, for example, enemies attacked from behind. This is your long-term goal - the accumulation of more perks, more inventory slots, anything that might make you better equipped to thrive in this unforgiving environment.

Crowd Sourcing

As you're sharing this space with hundreds of other players, it's inevitable that your adventures will overlap. Come across someone else taking part in the same mission and you'll team up naturally, sharing the load as you tackle the objectives.

This element is at its most integrated in Arkfalls, random events which send players swarming across the map to tackle waves of enemies and giant bosses in the hope of earning hefty XP bonuses and rare weapon drops. These battles can be intense and lengthy, sometimes even a series of smaller encounters which lead up to a major Arkfall. When this happens, you really get a sense of Defiance's potential, as dozens of players all work together to complete enormous challenges.

If you prefer a more intimate and scripted way to play together, there are also seven co-op maps that can be played with a team of four. The loot drops in these raid-style missions can be spectacular, so for the player looking for the best kit, this is where you should be heading.

Defiance Review for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC at GAME

You won't always be working together, however. Hop into the quick and easy matchmaking menu and there are also multiplayer deathmatches to satisfy your more bloodthirsty urges with, and something called Shadow War, a more Battlefield-style mode with capture points and vehicle use.

A Stretch Too Far?

You certainly couldn't accuse Defiance of being stingy when it comes to gameplay, but that doesn't mean it gets everything right. The game's launch has been a creaky one, with reports of lag and disconnections on consoles. It's also far from being the best-looking game, with some crude character models and an unfortunate amount of pop-in, as scenery and even enemies appear out of nowhere.

These wobbles all stem from Defiance's ambition though, and even just a week after launch many of them have already been addressed. The game is much more stable than it initially was, and Trion Worlds has big plans to roll out more content and other improvements. If the idea behind Defiance grabs your attention, then you owe it to yourself to give it a go. There's a fantastically epic action game here, one that annoying surface flaws can't obscure.

GAME's Verdict

The Good:

  • Massively multiplayer action comes to consoles
  • An endless array of missions and events to tackle
  • Crossover with the TV show promises to be very cool

The Bad:

  • Technical problems are being addressed, but remain a concern
  • Some features are poorly explained in-game
  • Not much room to create a truly unique character

Published: 11/04/2013

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