Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Nadeo UK Price:£15.99
Whenever a film or a TV show can't secure the rights to footage of a game, one that they need in the background of a shot to show character identity through their hobbies or even something specific to the plot, they'll likely create a fake game through CGI. Doing this means they can determine their own rules for the game, feature lines from it in the dialogue or slander the production as much as possible without fear a response from the publisher. The senseless violence can be corrupting our youth, the indoctrinating message can be brain-washing civilians and the strobing visuals can be causing players to have horrible convulsions while playing, and it can all be made up.
Not in-game footage - Click to enlarge
Shootmania Storm looks like just this kind of fake video game. It wouldn't seem out of place being played on a monitor in a teenager's bedroom with a detective talking to their mother behind them, running down a list of questions about where their gang-member brother normally hangs out.
This is a response that comes from nearly everything about the experience, which is alien to the point of being unrecognisable. The mechanics are odd, the art style is strange and even the way the UI is put together doesn’t have a direct thread to anything else around other than the sinew attaching it to a conjoined twin - Ubisoft’s Trackmania 2 (which, strangely, you can access from within this game’s customisable menus).
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This eerie feeling of other-worldliness is not something that'll probably ever go away, but it’s not a criticism. It’s a welcome difference, it’s a change of pace in a genre that had stopped seeming like it would ever adapt. This is a multiplayer shooter, after all, one that’s geared at its core to appeal to high-level FPS gamers who simply want a well honed gaming experience. All the frippery of other shooters has been stripped away, leaving a game that's all about timing, positioning, aggression and defence.
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There's an art style that mixes a few different influences. Think Medieval architecture and knights, but they shoot plasma grenades, it's all set in the present-day and the entire thing is all being done for a budget reality show. That’s the first part you have to get over. There’s no sense of aesthetic consistency, but that makes everything far more interesting: why limit yourself to era-specific weaponry and realism when you can have man-cannons and glowy projectile goop?