A while back I talked about a game that I have not read a ton of coverage about in the wide media, a MOBA-style shooter game by Human Head Studios and Atari Inc. called Minimum. Its claim to fame in the crowded space is the use of flat-shaded polygons in the art design – albeit pumped up with modern lighting/shader effects & much higher polygon counts than something like Hard Drivin’ could have done in the 80s.
Since I initially reviewed it in beta, the game has received some updates and with that, changes and improvements. They launched the new ver. 1.3 update a couple of weeks ago so I decided to give it a whirl.
The game still features the Titan mode, which was the only mode the game featured when it launched in beta form. Thanks to more maps and tweaks, this mode is much more interesting now. They have certainly worked at balancing in the game – today when I started in the middle of a Titan match, I had the misfortune of joining the losing team where the opposing titan was already bashing down the core. I managed to destroy it before the final blow which gave the team a chance to regroup and to make a longer story short, we actually pulled off a win. I’m guessing the other team wasn’t expecting a push back all of the sudden. In the past when I played this mode, there was no chance that such a turnaround could take place as you would be overwhelmed too easily. That almost happened here as well but some re-balancing kept it from being too one-sided. They also introduced an invincibility period for titans where they cannot be damaged until the two clash with each other in the center.
Likewise it still features team deathmatch for those into that and finally Horde mode. This was added in a previous update but with 1.3, you have more enemies and maps along with other tweaks to make the experience more enjoyable. They also have tweaked some of the graphics, there are some new particle effects to accompany the bullets hitting the enemy, which I do appreciate since it makes it more obvious that you are landing a hit.
So far I find myself going back to Horde mode than the other two (pictured above). Perhaps I’m just in more of a co-op mood at the moment and fighting waves of enemies, which includes ninja, samurais and dinosaurs, is fun. I had my 5-year old daughter sit with me and watch as I played this morning and she enjoyed the crafted pink dinosaur armor (which is why I use it above) and as I ran around dual wielding swords she commented “it’s like Star Wars swords!”. She also got a kick out of me slashing the enemies down, which did appear to be better balanced than in previous matches I had played. Later when my son watched me play, he became interested in it as he noticed that the graphics had an odd retro look to them (blocky and simple, much like his favorite Minecraft) but then seeing dinosaurs running around sealed the deal. While I haven’t seen this game getting any marketing attention, it seems that it would be an easy sell to kids with these new elements.
How smooth or choppy things are can still be determined by the combination of your internet connection and graphics card. Using my PC with an nVidia 730GT (not exactly a powerhouse), there is still a loss of some frames when things get hairy but it wasn’t to a level that made me frustrated with the game. My PC was having an odd issue with Steam though, which caused an unrelated lock-up or two so it may just be that I need to do some house cleaning there. I also will be giving it some play on my more powerful system which has an nVidia GTX 550 Ti card and more RAM to see how it goes.
They have gone ahead and reset some things in regards to weapons and devices that I had obtained previously, as I was pretty sure I had created some blueprints that were now locked. But they have added more of those devices and weapons to enjoy with more to come – occasionally there is a window you open and there is a grayed out button. Perhaps by the time they hit ver. 2.0 it will offer the ‘complete’ game experience but it is complete enough to enjoy as of this moment.
At this point apart from the efforts to balance, tweak and perfect, what I would like to see is an option for local network play (I know that isn’t much of a thing anymore so I’m probably the only one that cares about it), and some improvements to the music. The music that plays during matches sounds the same as the menus where the intensity of the matches is on a different level and could thus use appropriate tunes and tempo to match. Well, those two things and a pure arcade version (cabinet and all), since this game style still can work in the modern arcade as shown by UNIS’ new Armed Resistance game. 😛 Otherwise, if you have Steam I would still suggest to check this out. If you like these kinds of games you can’t go wrong and it has come a long way from where it was six months ago.