A poor man's version of Quake 2.

User Rating: 4 | C.O.R.E. DS
Gameplay: 4
Graphics: 4
Sounds: 5
Value: 5 (way over priced)
Tilt: 4
Actual score: 4.3

When the main plot involves a meteor crash in the Mojave Desert for which a base established around the crash site, one can assume here comes another Area 51 story. Yet there's nothing wrong with that as long the storyline makes some sense. Now add that communications suddenly stopped therefore a crack team was organised to investigate can raise a quizzical eyebrow as to how many times have you heard this before. Let's say the leader of this crack team is you and your main objective is to find out what happened then you definitely have a sense of déjà vu. Nevertheless this is what CORE is all about.

The essence of CORE is a FPS for the DS. Yet considering the FPS genre is still in its infancy for the DS, it's kinda hard not to criticise the limitations or the responsiveness of using the stylus and D-Pad to aim and shoot thus the controls are not exactly perfect as one can imagine when killing your foes. What this spells that CORE is a challenging game for that very reason as I feel the developers are trying to incorporate all the functions of what the mouse and keyboard can do. That said you can crouch, jump, strafe and so forth. However the controls to utilise this is not well integrated as to jump is to double tap, crouch is to press the 'B' button and so forth. To add salt to the wounds, throughout the game there's no real opportunity to perform these tasks. So your basic chores like strafing whilst shooting can be a royal pain as sometimes you double tap accidentally causing you to jump therefore missing your target.

Sadly it doesn't stop there. The collision detection is sporadic as aiming directly at your target will cause you to miss yet the AI will always hit. Your saving grace though is that you have two life bars being your armour and health. Naturally one assumes that your armour should dissipate faster than your health however this is not the case. Both your health and armour will decrease together at an alarming rate leaving you little choice but to shoot head-on. Granted there are 'machines' to regenerate both your armour and health however those are few and far between. Also there are checkpoint saves in the form of a computer console therefore if you miss them, tough luck. The good news is that every level forces the game to autosave. Other downfalls are the lack of ammo count so start getting used to your default pistol as drops rarely occurs and there's no automap option thus leaving you admiring the base and nothing more (besides dying of course).

According to the blurb, visually the game boasts fully dynamic lighting, realistic day/night system, impressive particle system and lots of other stuff. Well I'm not sure what version I was using as I rarely saw these features. Agreed the day/night feature was impressive only in one level where you need to trudge your way through a tunnel using your torchlight. Actually that was more of a relief as the entire compound beforehand was pretty bland. Heavily pixelated blended with those wonderful particle effects at a cool 20fps is not my cup-of-tea. Also the foes and your fellow men looks like they are made up of three polygons and crumple like a pile of crap when they die.

If there's a good thing in this game is the soundtrack. Obviously influenced by the PC game Quake 2, the scores have the same tones of heavy rifts and distant sounding keyboards that really get your blood going yet everything else splats like a squashed tomato. The weapons, growls, grunts and every other imaginative sounds makes you want to switch off the sounds altogether even. Yet did I mention that the footsteps are impressive to hear?

The expected time to finish the single player campaign is around six to eight hours. Yet I have clocked it at nine hours only because I kept dying near the end where I have no ammo (other than the default gun) and little health. There's also a multiplayer option where you can play up to four players featuring Deathmatch, Team Arena and Capture the Flag spread over ten maps. And as a bonus you can use the same DS card to support the multiplayer however what the game doesn't tell you the time to load the game takes approximately five minutes. Yet it has all the multiplayer goodies like powerups and weapon spawning.

It's obvious that the developers were influenced by Quake 2. And I cannot blame them as Quake 2 was a serious kick a$$ game for its time. NoWay studios (the makers of CORE) is trying to bring Quake 2 to the DS with all the FPS functions like rocket jumping, alt fire, crouching and so forth. I cannot penalise them for trying however with all the delays and push backs, there's no real excuse not to pull this one off. Fortunately for me this is not my first FPS experience on the DS. If it was then it would put a sour taste in my mouth and never again I'll touch a DS FPS again. Yet I do pity to those who's first FPS experience is CORE and if you are one of them (or still planning to play the game for some unknown reason) there are other games out there that are far superior to CORE. Just like the studio's name 'NoWay Studio' no way I can recommend this game…even if you are a Quake 2 fan.