Ace of Spades ReviewPlatform: PC exclusive
UK Price (as reviewed): £6.99 Incl. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $9.99 Incl. VAT
This is the problem with having screenshots embedded in reviews; so much of what the text says is rendered redundant by the images. There's no need to spend any time explaining that Ace of Spades is basically 'Minecraft with guns' for example - it's plain from the pictures.
First world game journalist problems aside though, there's still plenty to be said about that combination - starting with the fact that it's a recipe which sounds cooler than it is.
The first issue, for example, is that the gimmicky combination of Minecraft's destructible block-based world and basic multiplayer modes are also the height of Ace's innovation. There's nothing deeper; just the usual Team Deathmatch and Zombie Assault modes ungracefully dropped into a cubist world. Ace of Spades lacks both the survival and exploration aspects of straight Minecraft, as well as the fine balancing of a decent multiplayer shooter - and that alone diminishes much of the appeal.
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Going deeper though, Ace of Spades also ends up making it plain why Minecraft doesn't have deathmatch modes of its own too - because the reality is that fast-paced combat is almost antithetic to the design of the world it takes place in.
Everything from the balance of weapons to the placement of the spawn points positions Ace of Spades as a game that is supposed to be played fast and loose, with reckless charges and jetpacks and deaths every two minutes. The block-based world is built on promises of deeper strategies however; tunnels under enemy bases and elaborately planned defences. In the end, the two end up conflict so fundamentally that the whole game falls down; builders and shooters ruining the game for each other.
This isn't always the case, to be fair. There are a few levels on offer which create a more coherent and unique experience; build-orientated players especially will appreciate the bigger maps where tunnels and bespoke sniper nests actually become valid tactics. Even in the Zombie Assault mode though these levels aren't a majority and most matches quickly devolve into mad dashes across broken terrain.
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Broken in more than one regard too, actually. The cubist construction of the world is often a pain to move over, a fact which has driven publisher Jagex to throw in a Rocketeer player class that can quickly scale uneven mountains. The Rocketeer is itself actually a fun class to play as, with the recharging jetpack hitting a sweet spot between agility and distance, but for every other class navigating the world can be an unrewarding activity.
Again, part of this problem comes down to the maps which Ace of Spades has on offer, as more open environments would doubtlessly alleviate the issue. Instead though, most levels come with small villages or defences already built in place - limiting the amount of space and making Rocketeers the de facto class choice for all but the most patient.