Saturday, May 12, 2012

ORION: Dino Beatdown Review

ORION: Dino Beatdown Review


Welcome to my gaming reviews/news site! My name is DrPixel, or "Pixel" for short. Most of my friends call me that, so you can call me that too I suppose. I absolutely love to review games of all sorts, good and bad, and would like to start with one I have been enjoying quite a bit recently- ORION: Dino Beatdown, on the PC, specifically Steam.

Price: $9.99, currently $8.99 at a launch sale.
Developer: Spiral Game Studios
Release Date: May 4th, 2012
Time currently played by Pixel: 13.4 hours

I'll start off by saying a basic statement: Orion is a game about dinos. Spiral Game Studios has crafted a game about dinosaurs, and they plan to make more games about dinosaurs. Simple phrases I might be saying perhaps, but I think that this game and what Spiral has planned has tons of potential to succeed. with the right content additions and more fixes for its problems.

Orion: Dino Beatdown is NOT a problematic game for me. It has had a few kinks and quirks that were moderately annoying when I'd first played the game, but after becoming used to it, the strange crashes and bugs the game threw at me became not that noticeable. However, others, including both of my friends who I convinced to buy the game and play with me, had bugs, crashing, and just overall problems with the game like nothing I've ever seen.

I've played bad games. I've played terrible games. Heck, I've even played games that are just downright unplayable. Nothing comes close to what happened to one of my two friends though- his game literally would crash every time he tried to play. I've had worse issues with games I guess, like the Crysis PC sale CD-key issues, which affected me and many other buyers during one of EA's sales around under a year ago I believe. That was insane I'll say! But Orion? Orion is something different. Games aren't usually.....broken, but for some people Orion was (and still is for a small part of those "some"). Textures looked like early Playstation graphics on even the highest settings for some people. For others? Constant crashing would make the game pretty much unplayable. And for everyone? There was this odd server bug that plagued the game for a good 3-5 days, which filled player slots on servers with "ghost players", making most to all servers not joinable. This led to many a frustrated gamer, including myself, but luckily I found a work-through. There was this private server hosted by one of the members of the Spiral Games' forums, and I joined that. I had no problems on that server and used it for most to all of my 13 hours on the game. For the purpose of this review I'll talk about my time on that server mostly.

After joining the server, I looked at the top of the screen (where most of the information is/was [an update changed a bit of that]) and saw that the match had just started. "Perfect," I thought. So, the server owner, me, and 3 other forum users began the round by pressing the generator to turn on the power for the base we were at. To clarify, there are 4 bases in the game that must each be turned on and survived at for 5 consecutive rounds before moving to the next one. To beat the game, you must complete all 4 of the bases and survive till the end of each one. Anyway, once we started the round, raptors sprinted after us and the generator. The guy I was sort of following had got inside a "gladiator", a jeep sort of vehicle with a turret on top, so I hopped inside to help him out. I manned the turret while he drove, crashing into raptors left and right. I fired my machine gun for as long as I could see dinos (I tend to not care about accuracy, just killing things >.<). Finally, the round was over and I took in what happened exactly. I had just machine-gunned down a few raptors.....and right then I knew the game certainly had the fun factor to it. There's just quite nothing like emptying lead all over a few raptors, and it felt good.

 I decided to continue, deciding that the negative reviews were a tad wrong. I managed to get to only round 4 that game, and then I learned why: the game was extremely difficult! My team ended up devising a plan and played for a good 2-3 hours that session, playing match after match after match because we kept losing. Finally, the server owner, who was very good at the game, came up with this brilliant plan involving one of the player classes- "Recon". Recon characters are able to throw EMP grenades to get destroyed generators back to life, and so he told us just to be Recon and camp the buildings near the generator, throwing EMPs at it if it happened to go offline but the constant angry dinosaurs attacking it. Well, it turns out his plan worked....fantasticly. I had to leave before the match was over, but they ended up winning that game (which was rare for Orion), and I later joined back and won again with them. I sure did have a ton of fun those matches I played. However......there was a few problems with the game. Before I get to those though, I'll talk about the technical side of the game.

Graphics and sound-wise, this game is great. Unique and highly detailed environments, AMAZING lighting effects (props to whoever did their lighting, really!), and decent models for both players and dinosaurs all made me really appreciate the graphics of Orion: Dino Beatdown. In terms of sound, the work there was mostly good. The music I especially found very pleasing and had a nice variety of themes (there were action-packed tracks as well as modest, calm tracks). I have heard though that some of the gun sound effects were taken from other games, which I don't personally recognize but many of the users on their Youtube videos have commentated about it as well as on their forums and the Steam forums, which makes me a bit concerned. From reading posts from the head developer, David Prassel, it seems like they'll be replacing them in a future patch. Sounds good to me I guess. ;)

Like I said, the graphics are VERY nice!

Okay, now onto the problems with Orion. Truly, I didn't experience much besides the few times it crashed and the server bug issue, but those were both fixed in a patch this Tuesday. Along with that, many other bug fixes and changes went out, including one that slightly lessened one of my biggest problems with the game- its difficulty! Before Tuesday's patch, two of the three launch dinos, the Rham (a flying pteradactyl sort-of thing) and the T-Rex had massive amounts of health that made them pretty hard to take down without dying. Not only that, but there were far too many T-Rexs being spawned, especially on the earlier rounds when you'd think the game would be moderately easier. I often died before round 5 (the second base of four!) just because the game was too hard for not just me, but everyone, before the patch came out. The patch luckily decreased those two dinos'  health by 25% so that was nice. As I said earlier, the patch also fixed the two main issues I and many other people had with the game, so I'm happy Spiral Games did end up fixing them promptly. With this, they have my faith in them constantly making the game better.

This game truly has a massive amount of potential, and I do want it to succeed. Hunting down dinosaurs with up to 5 friends in a sprawling, beautiful world is just a fantastic idea for a game. Couple that with the cheap $10 price point, and that makes myself and many others very happy. Spiral Games have promised much more content to be added, including the option to have a time of day setting (added later in May at that!) for servers, 3 more confirmed dinos out in July (and possibly more), a confirmed new map and game mode (out in June). They said that if the game sells well, they may just add even more then that so I'm pretty hopeful. If the game has drastically changed by the time the 3rd major update is out (the "Herbivore Pack" according to Spiral Game Studios blog), I might just have to update this review a bit.

Overall, I'm glad that Spiral Games has taken such a fantastic idea and turned it into something at least decent. The gaming industry has been missing a good dino game since the first few Turok games, and in my eyes Orion: Dino Beatdown provides an adequate solution to that, for now at least. With more updates on the way and fixes to be released for any problems people are still having, I'm hopeful that this could be a great game, and currently it's at least mostly great.

-5 player co-op. It's awesome to play with friends I can assure you!
-A massive, beautiful game world, three of them actually.
-Extremely fun.
-Decent music and sound effects.
-Dinosaurs. Nuff' said.
-Lots of potential for new updates, including more dinosaurs, maps, and settings.
-The very cheap price point of a mere $10. You could buy....10 chocolate bars with that. Okay, maybe less. :/
-Bug fixes on the way for any problems people are still having.
-Survival game mode currently, with another game mode planned for a June release.
-Dedicated servers; server files are provided by Spiral Games and it is easy to operate.
-Constant help from the devs, who actually care about the community.
-Replayability is high if you end up liking it.
-Possibility of having a level editor later on due to the game being developed in UDK, a popular game engine. The developers have even said it's possible a few times so far.

-Bugs galore at launch, made many people (including myself a tad) very annoyed. Just look at the Steam forums for proof of that, or the game's Metacritic page. [-3]
-Unbalanced dinosaurs, often too many, too few, or too difficult ones. [-5]
-Only 3 worlds and 3 dinosaurs at launch. [-3]
-Pretty demanding graphics-wise. [-1]
-Difficulty can be insane at times. I have 13 hours and only have 1 match I ever beat on it. [-2]
-Only Survival right now (could be fixed later along with many other of these issues I do realize and could alter the review later). [-1]
-Sound effects copied from other games....supposedly; from multiple sources though. [-1]

Final Verdict: 85/100

Orion: Dino Beatdown is an extremely fun game that I would say is certainly worth your time and money, especially if you can catch it on a sale or you have friends who love some good co-op action....and killing dinosaurs. That's always a requirement for getting this game. :D

I must say, bravo on the job well done Spiral Game Studios, and thank you for reading my blog whoever does read this!

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