The Statue of Liberty is missing her head, but does the crown make a good shooting platform?
You've got to feel for Ravaged. The dust and dirt that covers its beautiful, sprawling, post-apocalyptic maps lays barely disturbed, such is the small amount of rag-tag soldiers that have travelled upon it. Its player base is tiny, mostly made up of those who are playing the demo and only have access to a single map, meaning everyone is stuck playing in a half-populated server and the same area again and again.
This wouldn't be a problem if Ravaged took place in tight, controlled spaces. But, it doesn't. Instead it gives you a giant battlefield that doesn't work when there's only a smattering of individuals waging war across it. The game relies upon large-scale battles in which everyone's behind the wheel of a different vehicle, or covering each other from the hills with snipers and rockets.
Good luck getting this aerial claptrap up in the air.
This is where Ravaged is at its best, with the explosive, vehicle-based action making it stand out from other FPS' on the market. Dune buggies zoom through sand, bouncing over the rocky landscape, helicopters roar above, spraying missiles down to the ground, while tanks charge in and stand dominant. That's not to say Ravaged would be a brilliant game if only there were people to play it, as the reasons nobody's playing it quickly become apparent.
All the explosive action is hampered by a number of little issues that build up to something much more problematic: the ideas and potential for this to be a good online shooter are there, they just aren't executed flawlessly enough. For instance, everything feels very threadbare, with only a few uninspiring game modes, and no backstory to the world that Ravaged takes place in: you're thrown into these online matches, and that's it, you're expected to run-and-gun.
This is a shame, as finding out why the Statue of Liberty is now lying in the sand without a head, her torch reduced to a handy sniping platform, is something you'll want to know, but instead you'll just have to settle for the fact it looks quite cool, and looking quite cool is all the justification that was needed. That's perfectly fine, it's just not very interesting, and means you don't have any real motivation for shooting people, other than the fact that's what you're supposed to do.
Moments like this are often missed when your teammates drive off without you.
The physics engine has gone for realism in terms of how projectiles fly, with rockets dipping over time and a noticeable lag between when you fire a bullet and when it hits a target far in the distance. This makes sniping a moving target nearly impossible: hitting a still target is fine, as you barely have to adjust, but a rapidly moving target, weaving in and out, requires the sort of judgement that just doesn't exist. It's not even a case of it being a tough learning curve, as even after plenty of practice with as a sniper, it'll come down to luck if you pull off a shot or not.
Rockets, on the other hand, are easy to judge after firing a few off, and are by far the best weapon in the game. There's no real trade-off to using them, you get plenty of ammo, and they're equally damaging to people and vehicles alike, leading to an unblanaced class system, and matches in which everybody picks the person with the launcher, because it's pretty daft not to. Rockets, especially launchers strapped to vehicles, also make spawn camping a huge problem, with many deaths coming as soon as you respawn, the brief sight of an explosion the only experience of that life.
The other classes are your basic fare: there's a standard machine-gun wielding soldier, a recon-based SMG-user, a sniper, a heavy support class, and a class equipped to deal with people at close range. The latter is the worst of the bunch, with most battles taking place from the safety of a vehicle or at a distance, but can be seriously useful when things do get clogged up and personal during battle for a specific control point on a map.
Blowing up everything except the person driving angrily towards you isn't good strategy.
While the class differences are apparent when you exit your wheels, for the most part you'll be sitting alongside a teammate in an armoured automobile of some kind, either steering or taking control of whatever weapon is strapped to the back of it. Controlling vehicles feels very heavy, and there doesn't seem to be any real difference between driving a tank and a dune buggy, as both have the turning circle of a blue whale with a steering wheel lodged in its spout. Controlling the gun is certainly where the most fun lies, so long as you've got a driver who drives towards the enemy, and not away from them.
Right now the small player population is seriously harming what makes Ravaged stand out, but even when you do end up in a big battle on a fresh map, its best attributes are lost underneath layers of niggling issues that just prevent it from being an enjoyable experience. It’s a threadbare experience, with weakly developed classes and no attempts to draw you into its world, meaning this is one shooter best left buried in the sand until things improve.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Riding shotgun into an enemy base, flanked by helicopters, buggies, and tanks, brushing past the defences with ease.