Today we are going to take a look at Ballistic Overkill. This fast paced online multiplayer arena first person shooter gives the old-school rush of fighting in a fairly small arena, trying to kill as many opponents and claim the objective. It is available on Steam for 11 Euros and 99 cents.
With this review you have a choice of either reading it here in text form or listening to the video review. They both contain the same content.
So a fast paced arena shooter. These seemed to gained back some ground they have lost since the times when Counter Strike, Quake and Unreal Tournament reigned supreme over any other kind of game on the PC market and one single game is responsible for that – Overwatch. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Counter Strike: Global Offensive isn’t one of the biggest games out there, but compared to the 1.6 version or god forbid games like Quake and Unreal Tournament, CS:GO is a very much slower game. But Blizzards Overwatch has reinvigorated the mass interested in this sort of games, so it is no surprise, that more and more are coming out.
But compared to the arena shooters of old, Ballistic Overkill adds something that is very popular these days, again because of Overwatch – classes. But the classes here aren’t as distinct as they are in Overwatch, where the play-style of each character is vastly different from any other, here the basic gameplay loop is at least somewhat similar for each class making changing the class you are playing much more easier then it is in Overwatch.
So let’s start by looking at the classes that are available in Ballistic Overkill. The game has three basic categories for it’s 7 classes: Assault, Sniper and Area Denial. The assault classes are the classes that mainly deal with killing foes. The first assault class is the Vanguard and this is probably the class most people will first try playing with as it is the most balanced in terms of attack and defense. Then we have the Berserker, the close and medium range class of Ballistic Overkill most utilizing shotguns. And the last assault class is the Shadow, my personal favorite class in game. This class is fast, invisible while running and either uses fast SMGs or a sword to take the fight directly into melee.
The second type of classes are the Snipers which are then separated between Marksman and Wraiths. Marksman uses scoped semi-automatic sniper rifles to quickly dispatch of enemies at range while grating their team access to a radar and the Wraith are probably the closest to the traditional sniper, as they primarily use big sniper rifles and have this amazing benefit of being invisible when standing still for more then 1.5 seconds.
And the last type of classes are the Area Denial classes, more specifically the Tank and the Grenadier. Lets start with the Tank and as the name suggests, this is the class that has lots of health but is slower then the others and is there to stand on a point during king of the hill battles killing his foes with his big weapons. And the grenadier is your prototypical area denial class, most reminding me of the Demo in Team Fortress 2 or Junkrat in Overwatch as he uses a grenade launcher to deal AoE damage on a crowded spot.
And the thing I am most happy to report is that fact that the classes feel very balanced, no class feels really over-powered or under-powered – at least from my pretty casual point of view. But that is also the most important point of view for the vast majority of potential players. While I do tend to play as the Shadow the most, that is just my preference because I like the really fast paced play-style with lost of movement instead of camping a single spot like a player who prefers snipers would.
But all play-styles are available here, whether you are like me, moving around getting a quick kill in a spot where enemies don’t expect you, being in the front, making sure other players have the space they need to kill your enemies or just hanging in the back with a sniper rifle getting rid of targets that could cause problems to your team, all this and more is here.
Now we should take a look at the game-modes and maps that Ballistic Overkill has on offer and we will start with the game-modes. These are really traditional only more playing into the old-school feeling of this game and we will start with King of the Hill, where the players are separated into two teams and try to gain control over a central spot for which they gain points.
The second and again very traditional game mode are Capture Points, that is sort of similar the King of the Hill, but instead of a single point to contest, there are three points for you to fight over.
Both of these modes have one additional thing in common and that is the win condition. Either your team needs to gather 1000 points from standing on the points or the team that gathered more points after the ten minute timer has run out wins.
So the first two game modes are the ones in which you need to control an area and secondly, we have the modes that deal strictly with killing and to be honest, I really like these better as when I go to play a first person shooter, I want to kill people, not fight over an objective. So we start with Free for All – basically your most traditional game mode ever, since it’s just your regular deathmatch where anyone can kill anyone. And the second of the killing modes is Team Deathmatch and I don’t think I have to say anything more then that it is just two teams who kill each other.
Sadly, the game-modes are probably the weakest point of the game as they don’t offer anything special. All of these can be found in many other games and one game mode that would somehow stand out from the norm could really make this game shine a bit brighter.
Okay, we talked about the classes and the game-modes available, now we should take a look at the progression Ballistic Overkill uses.
After each match, you will be awarded with experience points to the classes you used in that particular match. The amount of experience points you get towards each class depends on how much time you spent playing that class and on how well you managed to do with it.
Once you gather enough of these points, you will level up that class, getting access to different weapons and skills – but not active skills, they are all passive skills, for that class. The weapons you get aren’t strictly upgrades, they provide you with choices. And choices are always good. The same with the skills, you start off the game with the basic traits available to you and you get to pick two of these, so picking the ones that best suit your play-style is something you should definitely do.
At the moment there are over eighty weapons available, but of course, some are limited to particular classes. And when it comes to the traits, each of the classes has 6 of them available with the exception of the Wraith, that has only 5 available.
Good, I think were done talking about the mechanics of the game and we can move on to the part you guys love the most. How the game actually feels while playing. And I gotta say, it feels really good. The map size forces engagements every often so you aren’t just cruising around. And even if you aren’t playing a full server, finding someone to kill (or to get killed by) isn’t something that will take very long, specially if you are playing as one of the faster classes, but even if you aren’t playing one of the faster classes, you will find people often specially in the King of the Hill and Capture points where people tend (and should) stick around the objectives.
Then we should talk about how shooting feels. And while it certainly doesn’t feel realistic, it does feel fun. And realism obviously wasn’t the goal here as the game is clearly set in the future, so weapons with low recoil are understandable, because you aren’t just your regular human being, you are something more.
The fact that both the movement and gun-play feel very nice is only enhanced with the skill system that was already mentioned, as you can further tweak your character to your liking and that is something I like very much.
Okay, that’s enough about the mechanics and gameplay. Now lets take a look at how the game looks.
As you can see from the footage behind me, the game does look quite nice. It’s not Crysis or Witcher level of graphical fidelity, but it certainly does hold it own. The textures look nice, the effects are decent and because the game takes a very “realistic” approach towards its style and by that I mean that the style is really going for trying to look as real as its engine and today's computers allow for, you can’t really expect me to talk about how it makes me feel.
And making you feel certainly wasn’t the aim here, it was more about consistency in terms of being able to find your enemies while providing hiding spaces at the same time.
I will surrender the fact that specially the grenade explosions could be a bit more flashy, but well, that’s the design decision they went for.
Now onto the performcne. And yeah, it runs really well. No hiccups, no stuttering, nothing. It ran like a hot knife slices through butter. And the game didn’t crash for me either. So… nothing to complain about here.
So, in conclusion: A fun, cheap multiplayer shooter. If you are looking for something to get a few quick kills in, Ballistic Overkill certainly is a good game, but it comes trying to claim a spot in a very crowded market. Between CS:GO, Overwatch, Team Fortress 2 and many other online first person shooters, it will have a very hard time trying to find its spot. But if you want to try something new and fun, Ballistic Overkill does provide a pretty good option for exactly that.