All Aspect Warfare Review

This futuristic shooter is frustrating, flawed, and murderously difficult.

by

Don't believe the hype. All Aspect Warfare may be receiving some press proclaiming the shooter/flight sim hybrid to be a kinder, gentler take on the 3000AD school of game design, but this exercise in frustration is arguably more annoying than its Battlecruiser and Universal Combat predecessors. Where developer 3000AD’s earlier games possessed roller-coaster-steep learning curves, wild complexity, and ancient graphics and sound, All Aspect Warfare teases you with a promise of accessibility before pulling the rug out from under your feet. Even though the smaller-scale focus on shooting it up first-person-shooter-style and zipping around in fighter planes is much easier to take than the kitchen-sink craziness of the earlier games, this is still a grueling experience that revels in confusing and punishing players.

See those tiny dots on the horizon? One of them is about to kill you.

Many of the superficial aspects of All Aspect Warfare are reminiscent of Universal Combat--which means that everything is dated and bland. Particularly the story. You're part of a Terran force attacking the evil alien Gammulans on their military base world LV-115. Something has gone wrong with an offensive, and you're stuck on this barren rock fighting overwhelming enemy odds while a superweapon called a Random Access Nuclear Destruction of Obsolete Matter, or RANDOM, ticks down to going boom and taking out the entire planet. Not that you need much of a backstory to start shooting in a game, but still, this tale feels phoned in, even with the added nuke spice. So does the environment. All the action takes place on a large, nearly empty desert planet where you can run around for ages without going anywhere. Foreground visuals are reasonably sharp and modern, especially when it comes to Halo-esque soldier models and beat-up spaceships, both externally and inside their detailed cockpits. Still, the terrain is dull and the scenery is so flat that it feels like you're fighting in front of stage scenery that you could knock over if you don't watch your step. Bases and terrain have no depth, coming off like a matte painting in an old Star Trek episode. Explorations in this cardboard world are accompanied solely by shrill rat-a-tat-tat gunfire and a theme song that fires on all eight cylinders from the moment a level starts until you make it back to the main menu. Dialogue is absent, aside from wingman chatter and the occasional comment provided by the "Mother" computer that looks after battle alerts.

Beyond the cosmetics, All Aspect Warfare is very different from its predecessor. The focus is on just two methods of combat. The 16 instant-action missions are pretty much evenly divided between shooting it up in FPS fashion or dogfighting in spaceships. Story mode is a little more wide-ranging, with sandbox levels that set out objectives and give you latitude to accomplish these goals however you want. Multiplayer supports up to 64 players online (good luck finding opponents) and over LANs in game modes such as the conventional Deathmatch and Base Wars and the unconventional Nuclear Winter, where you try to set off one of those RANDOM doohickeys. But no matter which way you choose to play, the action always spotlights either shooting or flying, so you can concentrate on what you're doing instead of stretching yourself all over the place a la Universal Combat. This is of course a dramatic break from 3000AD games of the past, which broke their backs trying to depict every single way that sci-fi soldiers could go to war.

It's a shame that this new keep-it-simple philosophy doesn't work. The shooter aspect of play, for instance, is a total disaster despite being based on a familiar formula where you pick a soldier from four basic weapon loadouts and lead a squad into battle. There are so many problems that almost every aspect is wide open for complaints. One of the biggest issues is the level design. Since much of the action takes place at Gammulan bases surrounded by flat terrain, the combat is remarkably boring because there isn't any cover. Even worse, enemies deploy at long range, so you spend most of the game shooting at dots on the horizon. Gammulans also shoot with unerring accuracy and can kill with just a couple of shots. If you hesitate at all, they will turn out your lights, usually with a shot that you will never see coming. It's easy to get killed by unseen enemies in the first minute of a level. Over and over and over again. Even if you can somehow learn to live with this unreasonable threat, the game further tests your patience through unnecessarily complicated and dated controls that don't even support using the mousewheel to switch weapons. Furthermore, there are an incredible number of bugs that run from plain-Jane desktop crashes to weirdness like dead enemies springing back to life as phantoms and immobile statues.

Complexity and insane difficulty make hopping into a cockpit intensely frustrating.

Aerial combat is equally demanding, if a little more stable. Complexity is the most obvious sore point. It's shocking to hop into a cockpit for the first time, as you move from a fairly straightforward shooter to a relatively hardcore flight simulation. Each of the game's many vessels features a serious-looking instrument package and HUD. Flight controls are keyboard- and joystick-only, so mouse jockeys are out of luck. Keyboard flying is very awkward, due largely to the strange key mapping that uses the WSAD and arrow keys to mimic a flight stick, with the Enter key used to fire the onboard guns and the spacebar used to load and launch missiles. Nothing feels natural, especially the arrows handling roll, pitch, and yaw, because you need to pull your hand off these keys every time you want to fire either the guns or a missile. At least you can rebind the keys. Still, the real annoyance is difficulty. While most furballs have an intense, Battle of Britain feel, the odds are just as stacked against you in the air as they are on the ground. It's all too easy to get blown out of the sky by the missiles of long-distance enemies before you even get close enough to fire off a shot. You're very, very lucky to survive even the first 30 seconds of an engagement, let alone shoot down any bad guys.

The one defense for All Aspect Warfare is that it is supposed to be a tough "thinking man's" action game, not an arcade shooter. But it doesn't feel like a stiff-but-fair tactical challenge for smarty-pants gamers. Rather, it's a sloppily made mess, with archaic level design, controls, graphics, and sound.

The Good
N/A
The Bad
Spectacularly frustrating on-foot sequences
Almost equally as difficult flight-sim missions
Ancient production values
No in-game tutorial
Plenty of bugs in the FPS component of the game
2.5
Terrible
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510 comments
dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

Deus Ex is a game that deserves the praise that is given to Half Life. Nuff Said

dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

Deus Ex is a game that deserves the praise that is given to Half Life. Nuff Said

SargentBoston
SargentBoston

No Isaac :(? Him vs. Gordon Freeman would be awesome for the battle of most badass badass to never say anything all game.

SargentBoston
SargentBoston

No Isaac :(? Him vs. Gordon Freeman would be awesome for the battle of most badass badass to never say anything all game.

Dizneychick
Dizneychick

Earthworm Jim vs Master chief. You all seem to have forgotten the classics.

Dizneychick
Dizneychick

Earthworm Jim vs Master chief. You all seem to have forgotten the classics.

drlove1023
drlove1023

have any of you actually played bubble bobble? If things went the right way, master chief would be gone after one matchup

drlove1023
drlove1023

have any of you actually played bubble bobble? If things went the right way, master chief would be gone after one matchup

the_cheater34
the_cheater34

marcus fenic and gordon freeman have my vote

the_cheater34
the_cheater34

marcus fenic and gordon freeman have my vote

NGUYENANHKIET
NGUYENANHKIET

I vote for miss Croft! She's always the one I admire, like, appreciate, adore.... OMG! I've fallen in love with her! xD xD!!!

NGUYENANHKIET
NGUYENANHKIET

I vote for miss Croft! She's always the one I admire, like, appreciate, adore.... OMG! I've fallen in love with her! xD xD!!!

w2sey
w2sey

cloud vs raziel in my final what a battle

w2sey
w2sey

cloud vs raziel in my final what a battle

fattey
fattey

snake the greatest soldier that ever lived... snake all the way!!!

fattey
fattey

snake the greatest soldier that ever lived... snake all the way!!!

fattey
fattey

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fattey
fattey

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

masterexploder1
masterexploder1

Hey timelazzo thats the same final i have. totaly badass....Link FTW!!!

masterexploder1
masterexploder1

Hey timelazzo thats the same final i have. totaly badass....Link FTW!!!

tmelazzo
tmelazzo

Link and Kratos in the finals

tmelazzo
tmelazzo

Link and Kratos in the finals

yo_milo
yo_milo

I think It would End up in Kratos Vs Ryu Hayabusa.... The best fight Ever...xD

yo_milo
yo_milo

I think It would End up in Kratos Vs Ryu Hayabusa.... The best fight Ever...xD

Ghost_Ryda1
Ghost_Ryda1

Mario vs Snake Snake is my winner!!! SNake? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ghost_Ryda1
Ghost_Ryda1

Mario vs Snake Snake is my winner!!! SNake? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!

swoop1nc
swoop1nc

Is anybody showin respect to DigDug? I mean come on, everyone has played that game. And you know it was addicting.I'm not sayin he's the best but i mean he at least comes close, right? He's a staple n gaming history!

swoop1nc
swoop1nc

Is anybody showin respect to DigDug? I mean come on, everyone has played that game. And you know it was addicting.I'm not sayin he's the best but i mean he at least comes close, right? He's a staple n gaming history!

isaacmj
isaacmj

does somebody here has actually played ICO? well, anyway, I bet Link is going all the way to a tough final against Cloud.

isaacmj
isaacmj

does somebody here has actually played ICO? well, anyway, I bet Link is going all the way to a tough final against Cloud.

1r3ap3r
1r3ap3r

LEON S. KENEDY ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1r3ap3r
1r3ap3r

LEON S. KENEDY ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dimitrar
Dimitrar

Fisher never says "Hay man, wazup"! :-)

Dimitrar
Dimitrar

Fisher never says "Hay man, wazup"! :-)

OnidragonX
OnidragonX

Just so everyone is clear (although it's not really that clear) I'm pretty sure this is a "Greatest Hero" contest. It's NOT a "Who'd Win In a Fight" contest. Of course Kratos would beat Sam Fisher as a GOD. By those standards he'd beat everyone in the bracket. I mean come one people...Dig Dug is on the list...Dig Dug. There's no way this is a hero battle contest. That being said; as much as I don't agree, I think the final two are actually going to be Mario and Link. Master Chief will probably beat Samus (which is a crime)...and how come nobody is talking about the unfortunate matchup of Dante with Manny Calavera ("like bebies Manuel...like bebies"). Dante wins but Manny should be in round 3. Lots of unfortunate matchups and lots of people voting for different reasons = lots of sad faces on Oct. 15

OnidragonX
OnidragonX

Just so everyone is clear (although it's not really that clear) I'm pretty sure this is a "Greatest Hero" contest. It's NOT a "Who'd Win In a Fight" contest. Of course Kratos would beat Sam Fisher as a GOD. By those standards he'd beat everyone in the bracket. I mean come one people...Dig Dug is on the list...Dig Dug. There's no way this is a hero battle contest. That being said; as much as I don't agree, I think the final two are actually going to be Mario and Link. Master Chief will probably beat Samus (which is a crime)...and how come nobody is talking about the unfortunate matchup of Dante with Manny Calavera ("like bebies Manuel...like bebies"). Dante wins but Manny should be in round 3. Lots of unfortunate matchups and lots of people voting for different reasons = lots of sad faces on Oct. 15

adtorres88
adtorres88

Cloud vs Alucard for finals w/ Cloud winning it all.

adtorres88
adtorres88

Cloud vs Alucard for finals w/ Cloud winning it all.