Life is meaningless, brutal and short. It’s a hard lesson, but it’s one this week has brought swiftly home thanks to Modulaatio Games’ Running With Rifles.
Game developers like to put you in a position of power. It has long been the expectation of gamers to find themselves as the strongest, fastest and deadliest figure on the battlefield, brushing enemies aside in an unstoppable advancement through the levels. Not so here. You can forget health bars and rechargeable health. In RWR, you are going to die.
Far from singling you out as a special individual, RWR does everything in its power to remind you that your character is nothing more than just another cog in the military machine, and a fragile one at that. From the very outset your very insignificance is thrust upon you as you realize your character is identical to the hundreds of soldiers surrounding him.
Presented in a ‘Cannon Fodder’esque top down viewpoint, RWR is a simplistic arcade shooter which dumps you into the middle of a vast, chaotic battlefield. Control is simple, with keyboard movement and mouse aiming providing a low learning curve ideal for any casual gamer. Up to a thousand units can operate on the battlefield, which serves even further in pointing out just how utterly insignificant you are.
What follows your spawning is entirely upon your own back. Do you follow orders and charge into battle with your comrades, or do you strike out on your own to try and do some damage behind enemy lines? Either way, you have the life expectancy of my less than reliable broadband connection, roughly thirty seconds before you drop. Successful players have the promise of gaining rank during the game, which allows you to drag fellow soldiers with you on your suicidal bid for glory.
Combat is a savage and brutal affair. It is often easy to find yourself unconsciously hanging back from the main engagements, allowing your comrades to absorb the shock of contact with the enemy. For a game to actually promote cowardice as a survival tactic is something I haven’t experienced since ArmA.
RWR currently dwells in the pit of pre-alpha development, but don’t let that put you off. If anything, jumping on the bandwagon now promises surprises and excitement with every update. Multiplayer is in the pipeline, but even the current single player mode is gripping enough. It is a simple game you can play for minutes, yet addictive enough to find yourself playing for hours.
So grab your gun and join me on the battlefield. I’ll be the one crouched behind a wall crying for my mother.