Alas, Soldier Tried too Hard to Save the Best for Last.
Graphically speaking, C.O.R.E. isn't exactly bad; it's the 2009 equivalent of a Playstation launch title in that the game looks fine for what it is, but the technical flaws are blatant. Seriously, it's not good to have your game open with the ugly, unmasked mug of what appears to be a pig-man military sergeant and his waddling crew of ski-masked soldiers; all they need is the acronym L.A.R.D. typed on their uniforms and this game would feel completely like Duke Nukem 3D!! The graphics never really show any talent until near the end from the final level to the ending itself, but this is something C.O.R.E. does a lot of: saving the best for last.
For the first seven levels you'll encounter incredibly blocky enemies who look like the were all made out of Super Sculpy. What makes the graphics worse is that many objects and areas take awhile to load once you approach them. I've rarely seen this in a game where you'll enter an office and the objecs in there are still blurry and slightly hard to see as though they were several feet away... despite the fact you just walked up to them. Ten seconds later, the object finishes loading and becomes well detailed. This happened more than once in the game.
When I play an FPS, I expect the game's action to be engaging; when I shoot whatever I'm up against, I expect the shooting to stand out somehow. The combat in C.O.R.E. is rather bland which is actually something I can live with (see Robotica), but it's also really cheap. Remember those toy gun fights you or a neighbor might've had when you were a little kid? Remember how there was always one kid in those games that would get 'shot,' but would always insist on getting the last hit by shooting you simultaneously or seconds before they died? That sums up most of the combat in the entire first half of the game. Enemies will take forever to get killed regardless of whatever weapon you hammer them with, but once they do die they always manage to hit you before they die.
This whole last minute shooting business wouldn't be a problem if healing didn't require backtracking. Oh yes, rather than depending on first aid kits (which are present, by the way), you have to depend on two immobile recharge stations: the red ones refill your health while the orange ones refill your armor. Jesus, suddenly the immobile, destructible recharge stations of GunMetal sounds like a good idea... wait what am I saying, immobile health station AREN'T a good idea and never have been! It makes survival in this game tedious when you constantly have to go back about ten rooms to heal because the stupid jagoff you last killed managed to whittle your health down with his last breath!
Speaking of metal and sucking, the soundtrack to this game is bad. It's bad in that it not only refuses to match the setting and actions, but it also refuses to be appealing. I'll admit Level 5's music was pretty good, but that was sandwiched between four levels of the same goddamn bad rock music; I played half of this game with the music volume down all the way. What make's tunes so awful is that it's 100% rock music played in a showy, campy way. It's not Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Hair Metal... it's not even Metal!! The only time the rock really matched any of the action beyond Level 5 was during the final boss and the rockin' escape scene at the end. The rock music is just bad; it's the flashy kind of rock music that tries too hard to sound cool that it just comes off as being amateurish. Most of the sound effects fall short. Gunshots sound okay as does the constant pit-pat of military boots, but the sound of hearing people grunt in pain is just irritatingly bad. It's like playing one of the Spec Ops games for the Playstation...
I was just about ready to dismiss this as a mediocre, low budget FPS with a twinge of infuriation at how high priced, shoddy looking, weak-playing, unsatisfying... TERRIBLE sounding FPS it was... but then, I got to the final level and the music, the bad graphics, the bland settings...just... stopped sucking.
Yes, C.O.R.E. is a game that believes in saving the best for last as the final level of C.O.R.E. remains the sole reason I'm still conflicted with the thought of keeping it! Seriously, I don't even want to say what makes the last part of the game so much better than the rest of the game for fear of Spoilers. 90% of the game is designed to pay homage to the original PC version of Doom, then the last 10% of the game pays homage to the Playstation ports of Doom, the versions of Doom I know and love more than any other port, original or sequel. I played through the final level of C.O.R.E. with the volume up all the way, eyes glued to the screen reacting to every new ambient noise, moving back a little in surprise to watching/hearing a new enemy get killed and quirking my eyebrows at the settings; during the first nine levels of this game, you couldn't even get me to smile much less wince.
Personally though, I have to unleash my anger: how could they?? How could Graffiti Entertainment and No Way Studios make such a bad-sounding, lame-o, cheap, generic FPS that forces me to wade through so much uninteresting crap just to get to something I'm actually genuinely interested in? How could they find a way to keep me from getting my money back by not selling this game back for anything else? How could they have a game with a soundtrack that suddenly switches from a mix of an even worse rendition of Destruction Derby 2 to the ****ing Videodrome soundtrack?! HOW COULD THEY?!
I also can't help but ask how could they end the game on a cliffhanger? After spending a good time in the last level, struggling against the final boss and living through a pretty cool escape sequence, you'd think all you'd want to do is have a break from it all to a nice quiet but somber ending... no such luck. C.O.R.E. throws in one of those stupid, confusing endings dug out from a plot hole thrown in for the sheer anticipation of spawning a sequel... or just giving us yet another nihilistic 'you may have won, but it's not over yet!' endings that are goddamn ****ing OVER-RATED these days!! Jerks.
If C.O.R.E. were a car, it would be a run-down Ford Pinto that would take forever to get started, but once it did it would drive you all over town... for about twenty minutes... then it would blow-up.