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Extinction Review - A Giant Mess

  • First Released Apr 9, 2018
  • Reviewed Apr 9, 2018
  • PC
  • XONE
  • PS4

Walk away.

Don't let the AAA price tag fool you into thinking Extinction is a high-end product. It ain't, and there's nothing in the game--not even cutscenes--that come close to approaching the level of quality seen in its lavish, pre-launch cinematic trailer.

Discovering Extinction's sub-standard quality is frustrating because its premise is very enticing, and there are moments early on when it feels like it's primed to deliver. As a warrior who's capable of sprinting up walls, soaring through the air, and channeling sacred energy to tap into supernatural strength, you go toe-to-toe against incredibly tall and powerful giants. Taking them down requires you to lop off limbs and dismantle armor, building up enough energy to deliver a killing blow: a whirlwind slice through the back of their neck. Yes, it's obviously inspired by Attack on Titan--you even have a whip that can be used to latch onto hook points and pull yourself through the air.

Zipping across a city to reach a faraway objective, with your character effortlessly scaling walls and bouncing off treetops and canopies to avoid touching the ground altogether, can be enjoyable. And the early battles against the first few giants definitely strike a chord, with their impressive scale and intricately textured body parts giving their artificial bodies a dash of realism. It's all well and good while you're learning the ropes, but these initial thrills fade fast. Extinction quickly transitions into an incredibly repetitive game that fails to build upon its promising foundation.

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The excitement of battling giants--easily the game's most admirable piece--wanes quickly. Despite the variations that appear over time, their behavior barely deviates from the standards set early on. Most often, you're merely challenged to target different types of vulnerable objects that bind their armor together, but as you pour points into the upgrade tree to unlock things like extended slow-motion attacks, your character's abilities scale quickly enough that these added steps are no more than inconvenient speed bumps in practice.

In order to get to the back of a giant's neck to take it out for good, you will most often need to cut off one of its legs to make it fall to the ground. Alternatively, some giants have bits and pieces that you can latch onto with your whip, though this system is largely too cumbersome to rely upon. It's very easy for the game to misinterpret its auto targeting and send you flying in the opposite-than-intended direction. Rather than a fun and reliable mainstay, your grapple ability is relegated to Plan-B status.

Nine times out of ten, a hit from a giant means instant death. Your only defensive options are to keep your distance--not always easy, given how close you need to be to cut off their limbs off--or to dodge out of harm's way before an incoming strike. Giants are so big that these attacks often come without warning, save for small red icons that appear near your character's head that are easy to miss while scrambling to simultaneously attack and stay alive.

Should you die, you respawn back into the stage with all your progress intact, but being brought back to life in this way sometimes puts you at an unreasonable disadvantage. Each stage is filled with buildings that giants will gradually destroy until interrupted; when the city is totally leveled, you fail the mission. Many times you respawn at the entry point of a location, which forces you to sprint back all the way back to the fight while a giant whittles away at the remaining buildings in your absence. In light of the great potential for one-hit deaths, being sent back to the beginning of the stage doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Extinction is made by Iron Galaxy, a studio with experience making fighting games. There are reminders of fighting game mechanics within but any depth hinted at by the presence of super-armor and invincibility frames is shot down when you get a glimpse at the three combo lists. Practically every combo is executed with a single button and is only mixed up depending on when you decide to hold it down or delay the next input. Not that you need to master these skills in the first place. You can't damage giants with basic attacks, and smaller enemies are too dumb to put up a good fight.

And if you thought your sword, which is capable of slicing a giant's arm off, would be able to make quick work of an enemy 10 times smaller, you'd be wrong. The same attack you use to slice through bone a meter thick will only kill the most basic type of enemy, leaving others with plenty of health left over to keep fighting.

During missions where your only goal is to rescue citizens, the game arbitrarily changes the rules of engagement, but even then, not consistently. Most stages allow you to activate rescue towers at a normal rate regardless of the number of low-level enemies in the area. But in some rescue missions, suddenly it's "too dangerous" to attempt to activate a tower with nearby monsters, a proclamation from your partner that causes the charge rate to drop to unreasonably slow levels. But in later instances this is no longer the case, and rescue missions can be completed in two minutes or less as a result. Whether by design or by accident, there's a fundamental lack of consistency; some stages change the primary objective after you complete the task presented to you at the start, which, given the destructibility of cities, can put you in an unexpectedly frustrating position.

Perhaps the game's most damning quality is the fact that its story missions are often set in procedurally generated environments. That isn't bad in theory, but Extinction's random stages are typically flat and incredibly similar, and they aren't even in predetermined locations, which completely nullifies any chance of connecting with the story at hand. If giants level a city in one mission, how is it suddenly rebuilt in the next? Your guess is as good as mine. Likewise, the random generation of locations and giants (and their arrangement) can change the difficulty of a particular level from one playthrough to the next. You never quite know if you should press on during a challenging run, or just re-roll and try out a different permutation from scratch.

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The story driving you through all of this is told primarily through conversations at the start and the end of a mission. In both cases, the in-game world freezes and static portraits pop up, along with a frustratingly small text box that can only fit two lines of text at a time, even when far more is usually said. While you watch text scroll through this box, dialogue is read aloud at a snail's pace by decent voice actors trapped behind hackneyed writing. The skip button quickly becomes your best friend.

You do get 2D cutscenes between missions on very rare occasions, but the hand drawn art is rough. The fact that only some cutscenes are properly animated while others are storyboard-grade stop-motion is guaranteed to cause concern. Even the game's ending, arguably a pivotal moment deserving of some investment in cinematic flair, is of the stop-motion variety, no more impressive than dressed-up placeholder art.

Extinction shoots itself in the foot time and time again. It's so frustrating to see its good ideas buried under repetitive missions, a forgettable story, and embarrassing production values for its AAA price. Play one hour of it and you've basically done a bit of everything it has to offer; then it's rinse and repeat for as long as you can bear to stick with it. It's a frail and monotonous game destined for the bargain bin.

Back To Top
The Good
Delivers some thrills early on that occasionally resurface
The Bad
Unreasonably repetitive missions
Randomized story missions feel cheap and don't make sense in context
Pointless and shallow combo system
Rules and objectives change without warning
Off-putting presentation and poorly written dialogue during story sequences
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Peter finished Extinction's story mode on PS4 and did further testing on Xbox One and PC before writing his review. Complimentary copies of the game were provided by the publisher.
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Avatar image for novaprime1985

Well what did you expect from a blatant rip off from attack on titan.

knew this was gonna flop from day 1 of the trailer.

Avatar image for dev-raid1

seeing the trailer had me hype, seeing the me realize this is worth a solid 20 bucks. such a waste of a great idea.

Avatar image for hollywood1


Avatar image for ChrisAnetkaC

Only 6 thousand hours?! I want my money back!

Avatar image for Torvar72

LOL another garbage game on the Crapbox one

Avatar image for garysan

@Torvar72: It is also on the PS4.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

Oh well with Gears 2 Portal 2 and Red Dead Redemption all Xbox one X enhanced i’d rather play them anyway.

Avatar image for rickjamesia

Why is this game even out yet? I thought what they showed before was basically in alpha stage... that wasn't that long ago, was it?

Avatar image for xantufrog

Mmmmm, poopy

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

I love games that have fantastic locomotion systems in them. Extinction sounded appealing in that regard, but then everything else I heard about just steered me away. Shame.

Avatar image for reddevilofhell

This is basically the western take on Attack on Titan. Why? Just why?

Game looked boring and crapped out since E3 trailer. How is this game costs full price? And then people say that people demand too much now.

Pathetic game. Should be a 15$ online store game.

Avatar image for Barighm

Looks like these guys had a good idea, but then the publisher saw God of War would release sometime within this game's release window. Rather than delay the game or try to complete it, they just said "**** it" and released whatever they had and hoped for the best.

Avatar image for jsprunk

@Barighm: I'd bet money that you're right. I can't believe how many stories I've read in the past 10 years about rushed games that would've been awesome, had they given development just six months to a year longer.

Avatar image for rmiller365

Wow This game has been on my watch list since I saw the E3 trailer. The ideas had so much potential to make a unique game. It's disappointing that the developer didn't pull it off, but then again, I have never heard of or played a game from the developer Iron Galaxy so I probably just got my hopes up.

Avatar image for reaperinthyname

Thank god we have God of War coming in 10 days :D

Avatar image for solid_snake1461

Funny, you’re willingly give this game a solid 4.0/10. In the meantime, you were such generous to give sea of thieves, a game with just as much boring, repetitive gameplay, a 7/10. Citing that there's still hope for it to get better with more contents being added in the future.

Guess that being an exclusive to a certain console really has it advantage, eh?

Avatar image for pappafost

@solid_snake1461: Is there a conspiracy happening? Or do you just prefer to believe there is a conspiracy happening?

Avatar image for aiat_gamer

@solid_snake1461: Is this is new trend here? They gave SOT a 6, not a 7. I have seen this done a few times over the past few months here on GS, where they increase the score of a game to make some sort of comparison more valid.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@solid_snake1461: "whataboutism" at it's finest right there.
But to analyze your comparison: Sea of thieves doesn't have problem in production values or has a problem affecting it's very own design and core mechanics that can't be changed with patches and updates.

Avatar image for jerusaelem

@solid_snake1461: Watergate, JFK, and Roswell step aside! The great "One game is 6 but THIS completely different game is 4" conspiracy of 2018 is about to take root and everything we know and believe to be absolute truth will now be shaken to its very core! Don't believe the lizard men reviewing these games! THE TRUTH WILL BE HEARD!

Avatar image for RicanV

@solid_snake1461: Sea of thieves received a 6. It's also a completely different game that has more components in multiplayer and the ability to evolve.

Avatar image for Barighm

@RicanV: I also don't remember hearing about sub-par production values in Sea of Thieves.

Avatar image for Mogan

I like Dave Lang and Adam Boyes, so I want to like Iron Galaxy, but they sure do make it difficult sometimes. : \

Avatar image for wickedsword7

4? that's generous.

Avatar image for DaGoyaMan


Avatar image for switchps4owner

God of War out next week. Hurrah!!! Cannot wait for Kratos making comeback. :)

For Extinction, it will be sits in list of worst games in history. Devs waste their time with this game and almost no one willing buy this bad game. I knowing this game will be awful from look at some of preview videos and gameplay live include here so yeah it look terrible in many ways. :) :) :)

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

@switchps4owner: God of War is going to be great! I am trying to beat Ni No Kuni 2 at the moment and am loving it. I was planning on playing far cry before God of War came out but I ran out of time.

Avatar image for switchps4owner

@Legend_of_Link: Yeah man. I really exciting for it. It is 6 more days left to go. :)

Avatar image for aross2004

@switchps4owner: Worst game in history? You haven't been gaming long if you think this title wins that moniker.

Avatar image for MXVIII

@aross2004: not THE worst game in history. he said he puts it in a list of worst GAMES in history. Which yes it deserves to be put on that list.

Avatar image for craigtl

I couldn't get through the gameplay video. It seems like this game could have been cool but the developers just got lazy about everything. They didnt want to take time making the game look great. They didnt want to take time designing the levels to make them detailed and unique. They didnt want to take time to polish the combat and control mechanics. They made a game that gets boring faster than you learn to play it.

Avatar image for Mogan

@craigtl: I'd be surprised if the problem was laziness so much as it was running out of time and resources. I imagine something went wrong/not to plan rather than Iron Galaxy was just lazy and didn't want to put the effort in.

Avatar image for RicanV

The review reads like a 10 which is confusing for me.

Avatar image for adayinverse

@RicanV: ....what? Nearly the whole piece is negative (justifiably so). How do you get a 10 out of that?

Avatar image for RicanV

@adayinverse: "its premise is very enticing"

Notice how Peter said, "very" ? It could have just been "is exciting." This screams 10.

Avatar image for Mogan

@RicanV: You might have a career in pulling quotes to use in trailers.

"Very Enticing" - Peter Brown, Gamespot

Avatar image for RicanV

@DaGoyaMan: absolutely.

Avatar image for johno357

@adayinverse: i think he was being sarcastic.

Avatar image for adayinverse

@johno357: I tend not to assume sarcasm during complaints over Gamespot review scores.

Avatar image for RicanV

@johno357: yes.

Avatar image for Calikidd86

The premise looked like crap to me to be honest. How is his sword cutting through their huge necks. Just jarred my suspension of disbelief

Avatar image for TTB1

I got bored watching the live stream in less than 5 minutes. I believe that's the first time I felt bad for guys getting paid to plays video games!

Avatar image for craigtl

@TTB1: LOL I thought the same thing. At first when the character started moving I was like this game looks like it should be fun. After he cut the second giants head off I was like BORING!!!! Its seems like they were totally lazy in many aspects of developing this game.

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0457a4d6084

This game looked to cheap, God Of War 4 will destroy it.

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Extinction More Info

  • First Released Apr 9, 2018
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Average Rating17 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Extinction
    Developed by:
    Iron Galaxy Studios
    Published by:
    Modus, Maximum Games
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Violence