Engaging variety and refreshing complexity make Natural Selection 2 a supremely rewarding experience, once you come to grips with it.
- Great amount of depth and variety
- Gameplay encompasses a wide range of playing styles
- Match flow varies hugely from game to game
- RTS and FPS elements are both exceptionally well-handled.
- Not enough maps
- The lack of hands-on tutorial makes matches initially intimidating.
Some games are easy to pick up and play. Others require you to learn, improving and developing skills as you go. The multiplayer-only Natural Selection 2 proudly sits in the latter camp. The latter camp isn't for everyone, and that's okay. But as long as a game is designed well enough to allow you to learn, improve and develop, it's always great to see one push the envelope and not rely on the most tried-and-tested formulas. Often, these games end up being some of the most refreshing, the most celebrated titles around. Natural Selection 2 is one such game. It isn't the most accessible game on the market, but if you put in the time, this deep and complex strategy/shooter hybrid rewards you with plenty of engaging variety and lots of thrills.
It's important to stress from the outset: if you're a first-time player, your initial enjoyment of Natural Selection 2 will be entirely decided by how prepared you are to learn new gameplay systems. There's no interactive tutorial; all the game offers is a series of lengthy demo videos. These aren't ideal, they don't open within the game interface, and it's a lot to take in should you choose to watch them all back to back before diving in. That said, by far your best bet in picking up Natural Selection 2 is to play Natural Selection 2. The way the game is structured makes it very easy to learn by doing. Certain servers (highlighted in green) are defined as rookie servers, providing a great place to get to grips with the game's many systems, ideally under the watchful eye of a more experienced commander.
The commander's role forms the RTS portion of the experience. Here, one player controls resource management, base building, and upgrades. The commander directs units, issues orders, and tells the team where to go and what to do. The best rounds of Natural Selection 2 see the commander using full voice chat, communicating with the team vocally as well as through the interface. A good commander isn't the only thing that can make NS2 appealing, but having a competent leader goes a long way towards making the game more enjoyable.
Thankfully, it's usually easy to find plenty of welcoming, communicative matches; after all, NS2 is very much a team game. There's absolutely no incentive to ostracize or punish teammates for a poor performance. The best commanders know that to win, communicating with and nurturing your team is key. The best way to learn how to play commander is by not playing commander. Take a hands-off approach, stick to one of the ground troops, and it's very easy to pick up what makes for a successful--and unsuccessful--commander. On top of that there's Explore mode, which lets you play around in the RTS interface with a vast amount of resources, and tool tips for each structure.
The commander is just one role, however, and the rest of the players have a diverse array of options to choose from. There's a lot here, and chances are, after a bit of experimentation, you'll find at least one aspect of the game you really click with. The best way to approach the game isn't to think of it as having an overall learning curve, but a number of smaller spikes; focus on one aspect of the game, and you'll learn plenty by way of observation while doing so. Thankfully, the game's been designed exceptionally well to allow this. Every facet of both the Frontiersmen (marines) and Kharaa (alien) sides is important. It's very much like Team Fortress in that respect: every role has its place and purpose.
The roles themselves vary considerably depending on which side you're on. The Frontiersmen are the more traditional of the two; rather than focusing on individual classes, weapon and equipment upgrades allow you to outfit your character depending on your playing style and the demands of the situation. Through the commander's resource management, new weapons are made available, including shotguns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and mines. Then there's the prototype lab, allowing the research and purchase of jetpacks and exos (think the loader from Aliens, but with the ability to punch and shoot). On top of that there are numerous other research possibilities. There's the arms lab that provides permanent armor and weapon buffs as long as the lab remains active, a robotics factory that allows for the creation of commander-controlled support units, and various individual objects such as teleports, enemy detectors, and sentry guns.
Of course, nothing comes for free, and all these goodies can only be bought with resources. For both teams, resources take the form of team resources and personal resources. Team resources are used exclusively by the commander to build, upgrade, and generally get things done. Personal resources are used to buy the items on the ground. Both types of resource are generated based on the number of collection structures your team has put in place (extractors for marines, harvesters for aliens).
It's unlikely your team will be able to afford every single bit of kit, so you have to choose your purchases carefully, and this adds a layer of strategy to all aspects of the game. A good commander will have a game plan, focusing on specific research and development to shape the team into a suitable side. Fancy building up a ton of defenses and sending a strike team to meet your opponent? Or perhaps aggressively expanding your base across the map, choking the opposing team and cutting off their potential resources?
Thanks gamespot,if it weren´t for you the NS2 metascore would be around the mid 80´s,the way it is now it only hurts the game because of your incompetent review...
@MrYaotubo Plain ignorance. Metascore is based on different peoples scores, some like the game, some dont. Enjoy or dont enjoy but care less what other people think about the game.
well the biggest problem i have with this review, is it doesn't actually say what you do in the game, until.......... the 3rd paragraph. Kind of. I mean the analysis of what makes it good or bad is great and all, but its just as important to say what you actually do in the game. I mean given the 1st half of the article, minus the picture, this game could be about anything from teams of unicorns collecting rainbow dust to teams of monsters eating hordes of school children... Which sounds pretty fun come to think of it.
@Epicurus-Reborn yeah school children against little monsters and the children can do nothing but try to stomp on them while the monsters bite their ankles off
My worst fear with this title will be that I end in games and lobbies where the players votekick newbies just because they want a strong team. Yes, that still happen in public games and you can't deny it.
yah yah yah the first reviewer screwed the pooch. onto the game....this looks like a combo of starcraft and halo and frankly really intriguing to me! think i want to play it
I lol @ gamespot removing the metacritic score.This is just ridiculous. Just issue an apology for god's sake, you're not children. This is some half-assed high-school newspaper conduct right here.
@Slade968 I was referring to the fact that I couldn't see the metacritic score yesterday. Can see it fine now.They should be talking to metacritic to remove the old review score though.
Hey guys so despite my glowing review below, I have some sad news to report.
The latest patch for the game (Build 229) has ruined the game balance and completely overpowered the alien side. Although the developers UWE said they would not be changing gameplay elements in this build, focussing only on network issues, they secretly changed major components of the alien side.
The network issues are improved on the whole, so they did deliver on that. But at the same time I and some others have found game load times to have worsened (but others say theirs have improved). But what ruins everything is the alien buffs which weren't even included in the patch notes, and was found by someone reading the game source code to compare differences -- UWE admitted to the changes after the community had found them.
The buffs are serious, with what used to be 51-49 alien win to marine win ratio in 227 and 228 (launch versions) now totally skewed to a 60-40 or more in favor of aliens.
Anyone who purchases this game and goes marine will have a terrible time of it, as they are destroyed within 10-15 mins, no matter how good the rest of the team is. And even experienced players are having great difficulty winning as marines. If you play as aliens though, it's great because you almost certainly are going to pwn the marines.
Please take this also into consideration along with the other comments made here, and along with the Gamespot review. I'm really disappointed with Unknown Worlds after this. I will definitely be very careful about purchasing any future games from them.
@lucutisborg Some of the changes from this patch are being reverted and other things are still being tweaked and changed. You can check out the upcoming official patch in Flayra's Steam Workshop: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=108447514
It's definitely seems like a difficult game to balance properly, but at least the devs are listening to feedback and trying to do it right.
game does take some use to. biggest thing you can not be afraid to die over and over. you get better stats the more you play
I will be giving this game a second look now based on the feedback on a review that seems to appeal to depth and variety. A good way to test the gaming public on what they value most I think.
@Ioriya I never read the comments and I've stopped reading Gamespot a year ago because they don't have an iPhone app worth a damn.. but here I am today... I'm just going to point out that every site has a reader like you... the guy who puts down the site's writers like it was your job to do so, doesn't give a damn about people's feelings, has no constructive viewpoint, offers no constructive criticism and seemingly complains solely because they aren't intellectually equipped to accept that other people will have differing opinions.
@DarkMellie cool story, bro. tell it again.
@DarkMellie that was what i meant with my comment, apology accepted.
Actually, I may just have been an utter toolbag. I read your comment as though it said "they replaced the shitty review with a shittier one", but you were just stating they replaced the shit review (which I haven't read but it seems to be widely regarded as so) with THIS one.
So yes, I'm a wanker, sorry about that Loriya :-S
This game is amazing, anyone who doesn't give it a chance is doing themselves a huge disservice.
Going through the motions of learning the game is super rewarding and extremely much fun, don't be afraid of it, embrace the fact that games with a good learning curve are a blast to play and a blast to learn.
You'll be surprised at how good the community is, people are in general always willing to teach a rookie.
The onos is cheap complaint is a typical rookie complaint, if the writer had put in some more time he'd have learned how to deal with oni, and more importantly how to not lose the game with exos on your side.
6 maps too few? another ridiculous complaint, there are more FREE official maps on the way (no dlc splitting the community here!) and mod support assures an endless steady stream of community maps over the years. This game doesn't deserve a negative on the map count, you get ten times more value with this system than you do in shameless cash grabs like battlefield and cod.
I also agree that it's too late to amend the review, the damage is done on metacritic and sadly that aggregated score number is what many people will go looking for when they check out this game. I hope you are proud gamespot that you most likely cost Uwe thousands of sales with your botched review.
@assaulter_g4 Well said...for the most part.
Remember that the reviewer has to take into account a wide variety of gamers with different tastes and preferences. Even CS, as great a game as it was, could become dull in the same 6 map rotation. I doubt there's a long-time player out there who didn't sometimes think "not de_dust AGAIN" and go off to find a server with a fun_map rotation.
On your last point, of course they're not proud; they made a mistake. But rather than just delete the review, pretend it never happened and put out a new one, they came right out, hands in the air, and said "we made a mistake, we're sorry, we'll try not to let it happen again"
If this is as good a game as the review suggests then sales will probably recover in the long-term.
As for the rest of your comment: stretch it out to 2 pages and you can be a reviewer :-)
Credit to Gamespot for having the bravery to pull a flawed review and replace it with something more well thought through. I have a feeling a lot of publications would not have the integrity to admit and rectify a mistake once they had made it.
@THA-TODD-BEAST It's not really underrated as most sites and people have been giving pretty damn good reviews (for all purposes, I think it's best if we ignore that last review).
@cfisher2833 @THA-TODD-BEAST Yea but its the lack of publicity. I mean, it took them how long to review this game? Like three weeks. Then they don't give it a video review which I don't mind that much but let's be honest, most people will skip over it simply because of that. This game is a lot better than half the other generic shooters recently released (not that I'm naming any names....)
@Slade968 @THA-TODD-BEAST Yeah, it's unfortunate, but that's the world we live in. Gamespot--like most mainstream gaming sites--focus almost exclusively on console games released by large publishers. PC games and especially indie PC games rarely get the attention they deserve. This lack of attention also gives many gamers the impression that the industry is severely stagnant, when in reality, it's far from it. It's just not the big publishers that are leading the way.
i'm curious, there was a game like 10 years back that had a similar playstyle, combined first-person and commander strategic roles, but it was spaceship combat with i think 3 different factions, anyone remember it's name?
@semolina420 There's a few reviews in the user reviews on the metacritic page that mention this is a great follow up to the Half Life mod. So I think spiderbug had it, though Allegiance looks awesome! Wish I knew about it back then...
@semolina420 maybe you mean allegiance? a f2p old rts/fps MP game with space ships, i didn't play it but i think there's still an active community
@ShadowRun02 yep that's the one, the gameplay style was so sweet, but i always hoped they'd redo it, cuz it totally fits in this mmo age of gaming, whereas when it came out, online play was still in it's infancy,
@semolina420 well i do know this game is based off a mod for gold source engine which if you dont know itshalf-lifes engine.... the mod was called natural selection thus why it is ns2 not just ns. ns was based on a mod for an older game but i forget what it was but it was different enough from the game it sorta copied to be called its own game.
It's as good as cod in the same way as steak is as good as elephant dung...
NS2 is in an entirely different league of quality than black ops 2, but it requires some teamwork and your brain activity can't flatline while playing it.
@youlade You can't really compare it to BO2, don't just look at the score. It's a very different game. It's not just a FPS. Don't buy it before you're sure of what you're buying, check some gameplay videos, start with NS2HD on youtube
Been playing with a lot of ns1 vets, and while there is the usual nostalgia for the first game and some of the changes, every single vet i've seen absolutely adores ns2.
@Itachhi it certainly feels like it to me, plus the steam workshop already has about 100 mods, of which perhaps 10 are new maps.
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