For every box ticked, another is crossed out.
C.O.R.E. Is a game where "the inspiration came from classic PC shooters from the late '90s" this is clearly evident through the game play and plot.
The setting is the standard 'something's gone wrong so we send in the super soldier' which many games have done right but unfortunately C.O.R.E. is not one of them. Apart from the intro movie and a few lines of conversational text, the plot isn't shown very well, the saving grace is the number of PDAs and logs scattered across the game which I actually found interesting to read as they slowly unravel the story. However towards the end of the game the plot takes a slight twist and your left wondering what happened, especially in the closing scenes of the game.
Graphically the game does a fair job despite the muddy and occasionally blurred textures; there are a large number of sprites and 3D objects that add variety to the game. Enemy movement is occasionally jerky but all together well done. And the frame rate stayed consistently good throughout the whole game. Lighting effects were decent but seemed to go through only 3 stages, visible, shadowy and completely black, but considering the DS's limitations it was still well done. For a game set in an underground bunker the game does a good job of giving the player a diverse environment, everything from; stockrooms, mineshafts, computer rooms, subways to alien spaceships and I enjoyed the constant changes of scenery.
The Audio in my opinion was mediocre, it wasn't bad but it didn't really bring anything new or interesting to the table. The sound effects were generic and forgettable, and though the deep heavy metal soundtrack suited the game perfectly, especially in combat, all the tracks sounded similar and I would have liked to hear some diversity. One of the easiest ways to improve the audio would have been to add voices and greater creature sound effects to the game. Having voices for the dialogue would have been easy as there were only about a dozen lines of it throughout the game and to have enemies shouting a few phrases would have added allot of depth to them, so as all of the human opponents just felt like machines.
The controls were similar to most FPS's on DS with triggers shooting, stylus aiming etc, the controls were accurate and responsive however the duck button was a bit hard to use though that hardly mattered as crouching rarely made the you a harder target in most areas there was no cover to duck behind making the crouch in single player almost obsolete, similarly with jump only one part in the game comes to mind where I actually needed to use the jump function. The game gives player the option of left or right handed and aiming sensitivity as well as other options, which is good for a left hander like me.
Game play was made or break for core and it managed to just scrape in a pass. Combat was simple and occasionally repetitive as most of the enemies fought and acted the same only armed with different weapons. Annoyingly the enemies were always perfectly accurate which left it up to you to dodge the bullets, this alone was fine but every time you open a door with an enemy on the other side it is almost impossible not to take a hit. Doorways also proved an issue as many looked identical, but only some opened which just led to some trial and error. The objectives on the game were always along the lines of get from point A to point B with the occasional boss to kill in between every now and then you would have to do something like turn the power on or open something but it all felt the same. The game added key cards and pass codes but this only lead to backtracking and they didn't really add anything to the experience. Probably my biggest criticism with the game was that it seemed to put on token pieces onto the game, things like key cards, flashlights, tram rides, death clocks, secret areas seemed only put in as press release promises and in attempt to add diversity, which often fell short and acted as novelties only. Boss fights were few and far between and while they were all different only the final fight really felt epic. The weapons while looking different didn't' really differ in use (with the possible exception of the shot gun) only in power so as you find a new gun, it trumps the guns you had before, so that you would only use them to if you ran out of ammo on the good guns, or to conserve that ammo. None of the guns were situational which was disappointing.
Combat was really a case of keep moving and shooting which was made difficult in some narrow corridors were it seemed that your running and jumping just isn't agile enough to evade enemy shots. Most of the time it was a case of peek and shoot, but occasionally the game threw at you some fast paced and exiting combat, but sadly not enough. While many of the environments looked diverse, they only really came on narrow corridor or open room settings. One of the best things the game did was difficulty, I think they got it just perfect with health and save points spread out just where you needed them, the game also gave you a number of multiple paths to follow, but unfortunately most of the time each route felt very similar, so it didn't matter which way you went.
With all of the delays in the games release I was disappointed at the lack of features, no unlockable or collectables, not even a choice to replay certain levels upon completion severely damaged the replay value.
Multiplayer luckily remedied most of the flaws from single player, with 10 maps, 3 classic modes and 4 players on a single card player stats and scores were given but nothing mew was introduced making it a simple but solid multiplayer. The connection seemed to work without a hitch and some matches could become quite enthralling.
Graphics: 7 Blurry but diverse and well managed
Audio: 6 Decent but forgettable and generic
Story: 4 PDA's and logs were the saved the plot from non existence
Controls: 8 Precise, accurate and adjustable with the exception of crouch
Game play: 7 Solid but occasionally a token effort, multiplayer helps raise the bar
Overall: 6.5 While the game needs a buff up its solid and a good first effort for no-way I will be looking forward to a sequel that improves on all of C.O.R.E.'s flaws to make a truly good game.