Splash Damage, the dev team that worked on titles such as Brink and Doom 3, bring us the frantic first person shooter, Dirty Bomb. With some mild influence from its past forays into FPSs, Dirty Bomb makes for a fun team oriented experience that incorporates some good ideas at the same time.
Game: Dirty Bomb
Developer: Splash Damage
Publisher: Nexon America Inc
Reviewed on: PC (Steam review code provided)
Disaster struck London set sometime in the future is where the mayhem commences. With the city evacuated a rivalry has escalated between mercenaries and private military groups which has lead to the sporadic battles you’ll be asked to partake in. There’s certainly plenty of shooters to choose from these days but it’s refreshing that Dirty Bomb doesn’t come across overly generic or lacking in its own identity. Essentially, it’s an online multiplayer game that works around classes, but the roles each play an important part in completing the games objectives – perhaps more so than most ‘team-based’ efforts in the genre.
There’s definitely some influences from Brink when it comes to visuals and initially you’ll get a similar vibe you might have gotten from titles like team fortress with the strong, albeit cool-toned, cartoony colour palette. I was genuinely impressed with the level design that ranged from more open ended areas to more contained corridors, each of which looked the part and felt visually interesting to traverse. When you play a map in any game you instantly try to latch on to certain memorable positions to familiarise yourself with the location; Dirty Bomb’s maps were on point in that respect whether I was sniping from office windows or moving through a tight street – I rarely lost my bearings even early on, which says a lot for the design.
The gunplay itself is okay without really excelling in any area. Although it’s not something I’d always be pleased about, there’s no aim-assist meaning you’ll have to work hard to find your targets. There’s actually a little bit of satisfaction missing when it comes to kills, but most of that is replaced by the games desire to encourage team work that feels ultimately rewarding. Lone wolves will almost definitely have a frustrating time in game thanks to a well balanced class system that heavily relies on each other to get the job done.
For instance, the objectives involve tasks such as capturing points, escorting a vehicle to a location or planting explosives (nothing too groundbreaking), but as you push towards the enemy team having a medic pick up the dead or an assault type class drop an air strike in a dense area really makes all the difference. There’s actually a nice selection of characters to choose from that each have their own special abilities such as deploying ammo, health packs or auto-turrets. Although you can’t tinker with loadouts within a particular character, it really didn’t hamper the experience – the customisation elements isn’t always the be all and end all; take DOTA for instance, you pick the right tool for the right job and Dirty Bomb works wonders in a similar fashion.
I had a largely enjoyable experience once I was in battle, unfortunately it took me a little while to get there after constant disconnects just before the start timer ended. On top of that you might find the lack of progression a little negating. There are new classes to unlock with accumulated XP, but gamers now accustomed to full customisation might be left a little disappointed along with those who prefer controllers over mouse/keyboard – there is no support whatsoever for the former.
Although Dirty Bomb might have plenty of room to flesh itself out and could certainly use some more incentive in regards to long term play, Splash Damage have shown that this title isn’t something to be played and then cast aside for the next shooter in line. In fact, there’s a fast paced, instantly enjoyable shooter here and as it’s currently free-to-play at time of writing, I’d recommend everyone give it a try.