Nexuiz Review

By – Carlin Au

An old school shooter built on the amazing CryEngine 3.  Sounds like a magnificent idea, doesn’t it? Surely, a combination of the new and old is bound to produce something beautiful. I’m afraid it’s only a gimmick as the engine just creates a blur around everything the player sees. Not exactly viable for a fast-paced Quake-style game.  This coupled with a small amount of players, Nexuiz simply falls short.

Arena FPS

Lately, a lot of old school shooters have returned like Tribes and Serious Sam. Though different from Nexuiz, it’s good to see that they’ve begun to make a return in the age of military shooters. Nexuiz, an arena FPS, does well in its effort to bring back that fast-paced action seen in games like Quake. The weapons are satisfyingly powerful, the maps are symmetrical for easy maneuvering, the player’s health doesn’t regenerate, and movement feels fluid. Obviously, Nexuiz has what any fan of the arena FPS genre requires.

One of my best experiences on Nexuiz came from playing on an unranked dedicated server that only allowed one shot kill snipers. It is exciting to play with rules like that, especially when the game mode is Capture the Flag. Normally when I take the flag, I just run like hell. Although, this time I went out to kill everyone on the other team to make sure I could run back safely. In a military shooter, I would play cautiously and coordinate with my team, but this game had gotten me to crawl out of my normal playing style. I played aggressively, killing with precision and scoring points for my team. Now why would I change the way I normally play? I realized it was because everyone I played with was on an even playing level. I didn’t have to worry about being outgunned by a higher leveled player, all I had was my rifle and my mouse. Everyone had just a rifle and their mouse. Being killed never felt unfair, because all I could say about it was, “they’re better than me.”

Ranked vs Unranked

Playing in a ranked match is a different story, though. It’s a lot like Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer; to play in a ranked match, you have to use IWNet with dedicated servers that are unranked. It’s the same thing with Nexuiz; ranked matches are through P2P lobbies and unranked matches are through dedicated servers. It goes without saying that the ranked matches are probably worse than its counterpart. No control over the settings of the game, high latency, and whiners are all byproducts of ranked P2P networking. Not exactly as much fun as playing on dedicated servers, huh? The only thing playing in ranked matches does is affect your stats, which really does not matter because the community is too small to care for such things. On top of that, you’re forced to play the game the way the developers designed it – with dynamic mutators. Dynamic Mutators are random pick ups that affect the way the game is played. For instance, if someone uses a Melee Only mutator, everyone will be forced to use melee attacks only. If someone uses a Low Gravity mutator, everyone will be able to jump higher. These mutators can be aimed at everyone, yourself, your team, or the enemy team. It does spice things up a bit in a game, but I feel like it gets really annoying after a while with people flying all over the place or trying to melee each other, depending on which mutator is active. As if it wasn’t hard enough to kill people with a high ping.

Eye-Scarring Eye Candy

The game does look very pretty with CryEngine 3, doesn’t it? I was able to play Nexuiz on Ultra High at a resolution of 1600×900 with an average of 49 fps. Not bad, eh? It’s pretty cool to see an old school shooter on steroids. Although, like I said before, it’s not viable for playing on. Some people may be able to tolerate the amount of blur and glow in the game while still be able to play effectively, but I don’t think people used to the old days could. Playing a game of Nexuiz on Ultra High is a lot like shining a bunch of lights in your face and trying to keep track of each one of them while they zig-zag in front of you. I do think that new players looking for something other than Call of Duty and Battlefield could jump into Nexuiz to get a taste of what it was like to play a game like Quake or Unreal Tournament.

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

Nexuiz is a great arena FPS with a few avoidable flaws and one big drawback – its community is too small. The weapons, symmetrical maps, fluid player movement, and non regenerating health system recreate that fast-paced action players experienced in the old days. While you can experience the classic arena FPS, servers running dynamic mutators really shake things up by giving players special abilities whether it’s aimed at you, your team, your enemy, or everyone. With around 100 mutators, dynamic mutators makes the game a bit more interesting, although sometimes unneccesary. CryEngine 3, much like dynamic mutators, is great for people who can handle it, but not so much for people who aren’t used to looking at high quality graphics in constant motion.

For $10, it’s not bad at that price. The only thing that would turn people away from this game is small community.  It does have bot matches, some of which are quite challenging, that may be good enough for some. Nexuiz has some really great arena FPS gameplay, but not enough people know about it.

Nexuiz Technical Summary:

  • Time Played: 4 Hours
  • Widescreen Support: Yes
  • 5.1 Audio: Yes
  • DRM: Steamworks
  • Bugs: None
  • Control Scheme: Keyboard/Mouse
  • System Specs: AMD Phenom II X4 955, AMD Radeon HD 6870, 4GB of RAM
  • Game Acquisition Method: Review Copy
  • Availability: Steam

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6 thoughts on “Nexuiz Review

  1. How weird! I was just thinking about the old school online shooters this morning. While it is nice to see a return of this old school style of arena shooter I don’t believe that we can go back to the old school community that helped make those shooters so great. I used to spend a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of time playing Unreal Tournament way back when, but I had to quit for two reasons. First I moved to a new town where internet access was an afterthought to the city planners, (I could sometimes get connection speeds as high as 11kbs for short periods of time) and second the community that played these games had undergone an evolution without me. What used to be called “evasive action”, things like jumping, zig zagging, strafing or otherwise not walking directly into oncoming fire is now considerd “cheating” somehow. I was pretty much done with the scene when Nexuiz came out the first time and in away I’m dissappointed that I missed it back then. I’m now dissapointedt that the reboot has such issues now, even though the mutators were my favorite part about UT.

    • I kind of agree and disagree. I think the old school shooter can be revived, but it just needs something special. Something like how the Diablo franchise came back with a player count of around 5 million. Diablo 2 came out 12 years ago, that’s a huge gap! If something like that were to happen in the old school shooter genre, it might just be revived. Although I do feel like Diablo’s fan base was much larger and stronger than that of Doom or Quake’s, but hey, you never know. But yeah, it’s a shame that Nexuiz couldn’t bring it back. It’s a solid game, but it’s not enough.
      Thanks for reading!

      • I’m not saying that an old school arena shooter can’t be made, I’m just wondering if it can be made to appeal to todays shooter players. In the old school shooters you entered the arena with something like a pistol and you had to seek out weapons and ammo. The assault rifle was clearly better than the pistol, the machine gun was more powerful still then came the sniper rifle followed by the rocket launcher. In todays shooters people complain about the game being unbalanced if lots of people start using the sniper rifle, and the rocket launcher has been reclassed as a Noob Tube and you are supposed to insult anyone who happens to kill you with one. I have even read discussion boards where online shooter players are looking at how best to eliminate things like Circle Strafing. Now it may just be that these players are the vocal minority, but I don’t see this type embracing the playstyle of the old school arena shooters.

      • I see what you’re saying. I was actually thinking about writing something on this topic. The thing is with today’s generation of gamers is that they’re used to Unlocks and Character progression which does help develop this kind of attitude towards weapons. With unlocks, it pretty much means that you are now blocked off from using other weapons since you have not played enough to get a better weapon. That’s why people care so much for balance. With old school shooters, it doesn’t matter. If someone comes around the corner with a minigun, I’ll just say, “Well, two can play at that game” and I’ll go ahead and get myself a minigun. Since I consider myself to be a part of the newer generation of gamers, I don’t mind old school shooters. I like them; they’re a good alternate to today’s games. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that if people give a game like Nexuiz or any other kind of old school shooter a shot, they’ll legitimately enjoy it.
        As for why people complain about circle strafing, I’ve got no real answer for that. Some people take games too seriously like those crouch only servers in Black Ops. I thought they only wanted to limit movement/rushing by doing that, so all I did was walk without crouching and I got banned for that. Or maybe the admins got butthurt after I destroyed them. Either one works.

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