Examining Disintegration – A Strategic Misstep

Halo was originally designed as a real-time strategy game, but has evolved into a first-person shooter during development. I have often wondered what could have happened if Bungie had stayed true to these strategic roots. Developer V1 Interactive – led by one of the co-creators of Halo – gave us a window into a possible alternate reality with Disintegration, a sci-fi shooter that combines first-person combat with strategy in real time. But, if Disintegration is any indication of what might have been, then I’m glad that the original Halo changed genres in development. Conceptually, I like disintegration. You spend the entire game aboard a gravcycle, which is essentially a floating tank that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the action, allowing you to command a small squad of grunts while engaging in combat. This idea is solid and I like how your combat hovercraft adds a vertical element to first person combat. However, the decay gravity cycle also makes you feel removed from the action, as you are literally floating above. Skipping the whole game in the sky has a few unintended consequences, like hampering your sense of speed. The gravcycle has a decent base speed for a land vehicle, but as you pass overhead it feels like you’re driving through the battlefield in a golf cart. Plus, since you’re floating a story or two above your enemies’ heads, you often don’t have options for sheltering when the going gets tough. The action rarely gets this chaotic, and when you’re away from the center of the battle it feels like you’re shooting small fish in a big barrel. Another problem is the lack of evolution in the moment to moment action of Disintegration. Your gravcycle load for each mission is predetermined, which limits your combat options; you are usually equipped with an offensive pistol and a defensive tool, as something to heal the team. This fixed load means you spend long periods of time doing the same moves, causing the encounters to blend together. Giving orders to your team provides a fun twist in combat, but doesn’t solve the bigger issues of Disintegration. At any time, you can lead your team in the field, highlight targets they need to focus on, or deploy their special moves, which are set on cooldowns. These abilities range from simple grenades to perturbation fields that briefly incapacitate enemies, but they’re almost always useful. I had fun shooting abilities at each other for combos, like when I let loose a slow field on a group of enemies before hitting them with a barrage of mortar. While the strategic elements of Disintegration are a highlight, they don’t feel important enough to turn the tide. Your squad members do a great job taking care of themselves, and they don’t stay where you direct them for long, so there’s little reason to micromanage their movements. Some of the biggest flaws in the Disintegration action are narrowed down in multiplayer, where you encounter enemies maneuvering around the environment like you, which is a more engaging challenge. Disintegration multiplayer maps are smaller than single player campaign levels, reducing the illusion of slow movement. These maps also offer places to hide and use your verticality. I had the pleasure of hiding in a neglected corner of a map, then descending on an enemy from above. Even so, shooting in the first person of Disintegrations is still straightforward given your limited loadout. I also had more trouble mustering my troops in multiplayer; they often seemed eager to jump into the fray and die instantly in bigger fights. Upon release, multiplayer only offers three modes: Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, and Capture the Flag. This sparse offering hurts Disintegration’s persistence, and I quickly felt like I had seen all that multiplayer had to offer. At the start of a match, you can choose from one of many teams, such as the Militia wielding shotguns or the Clown-themed Sideshows that shoot Stickybombs, but these are just variations on the single-player loads, so the only real difference is the weapon you are using. Even Disintegration’s progression system is lacking. You earn coins as you play, but the only thing to spend them on are new cosmetic options. These aren’t even new costumes – they’re simple color variations of existing character models. The central idea of ​​Disintegration of mixing a first-person shooter with a strategy game is fine, but it takes so many missteps that the promising concept gets lost. The action is repetitive, and the basic mission design is tired – you can’t even save the game mid-mission, which is particularly confusing. Amid the boredom, I had a few fun times in Disintegration, but those moments were fleeting.

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