Whenever I preview or review a game I always go into said game completely impartial. There really is no other way to do it, that's why I won't review certain games - I'm looking at you Skyrim - unless I know I can deliver the most objective opinion possible.
I went into the Dust 514 demo in this mindset, however it didn't take long before worries crept in, and those worries quickly turned to real concern. Before I'd even held the controller I knew something was amiss. Watching other players on the demo I could see that the game was struggling; framerates were severely stuttering and the textures in the game looked awful (these were without a doubt some of the worst textures I have seen in a current generation game). At one point in the demo I went to use a grenade, it then came to my attention that my character had no hands as the grenade was just hovering in front of me. To say this game needs some work doing visually would be an understatement. We all know that bad graphics don’t necessarily mean a bad game, though, so I ploughed on regardless.
Unfortunately the gameplay didn’t fare that much better. It was decidedly uninspired and couldn’t define itself in any unique way. The guns you’d expect are all there, and they all work well enough, whilst the maps have a decent amount of variety to them. However, it just doesn’t quite manage to pull itself into a cohesive experience. As I’ve mentioned, framerate issues are present and they are a real problem in a shooter like this; it stutters throughout the match and becomes even more intense whenever you perform certain actions (such as reloading). It really breaks the flow of the game, and when it happens every time you reload, you’ll begin to lose patience fast.
The best way I can sum up my experience with Dust 514 is that it feels like I poor man’s Halo. I can see how the designers wanted the game to look and feel, but it’s also glaringly obvious they have fallen short of that aim. It’s a shame because the concepts and ideas behind Dust and its integration with EVE Online are really exciting.
But wait! A glimmer of hope may yet remain for Dust 514. Talking to the developers present at the demo, they assured me that this part of the game was an early build – if this is true, hope does indeed remain. I should also point out that the game I played wasn’t connected to EVE Online in any form, so I haven’t the faintest idea how this will affect how the game plays. So, while things may not be looking great at the moment, Dust 514 may still be able to pull through. Time will reveal all.