Shooter fans are always looking for a good “game-on-the-side” whenever they get bored of their big budget titles. Often times, they’ll come in the form of modifications (mods) to popular games such as Half Life, but it’s rare to find them as full-fledged downloadable titles.
CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is best described as a “budget” Unreal Tournament-like shooter. Currently, it’s available for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network for a reasonably priced $10. Read on to find out if CellFactor champions in a new wave of “original, full games” on the console digital marketplace.
CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars feels very much like an Unreal mod, down to the gritty “headshot, double kill” announcer; which can be good or bad depending on how much you like Unreal Tournament. There are three classes (units) you are able to choose from, and each class has a different ability it can use in battle. The Black Ops (the Human class) have a “psi-push”, which allows you to pick up nearby objects and launch them. They also have a teleport power, a shield, and the ability to drop mines.
The Bishop is like an android-advanced psi user, and fires everything straight from his hands. He also has a flying ability, which allows you to glide around the arena, and an advanced version of the Black Op’s psi-push. Finally, the hulking, robotic Guardian is the ultimate short-range unit, with the ability to dual wield, dodge, double-jump, and quick-dash into enemies for damage.
While the Guardian feels very unique, I would contend that the Black Ops and Bishop types are way too similar to each other, as are a few other general game mechanics. Both the Black Ops and the Bishop have the psi-throw and the shield power, plus “double-jumping”, and “gliding” are ostensibly the same idea. If the Black Ops was vastly more efficient with weaponry (as it stands, all he has extra is a “zoom” function for the rifle), and didn’t have the psi-push ability, it would have felt more unique.
For shooter veterans, there is a decently robust “perks” system (no modern shooter would be complete without one) that you unlock as you complete the single player challenge mode. Most of these enhancements don’t go out of the ordinary realm of “higher jump ability”, but it’s still an interesting addition nonetheless.
In terms of your arsenal choices, you’re going to get pretty much what you got in Halo 1, minus the alien weaponry. There’s the over-powered default pistol, a shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, and a rocket launcher. The Bishop has the exact same arsenal available through psionic powers, and they balance out the same way as weapons. Amazingly, the Guardian can even dual wield super-weapons, Goldenye style.
Visually, some parts of CellFactor feel unfinished, particularly the lower “unseen” areas of the map. The designs for all three classes also aren’t wholly original. The Psi-Ops character is reminiscent of Marvel’s Deadpool, the Bishop looks like an android from Will Smith’s I Robot, and the Guardian class is very Terminator-esque. Still, despite the lack of aesthetic value, it all melds together quite nicely in it’s own universe. In terms of the game’s audio, the music is passable, but the sound effects range from “fire-cracker gunshots” to “plain sounding beam guns”.
Game modes are kept sweet and simple: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Assault. All of these modes are playable offline, split-screen with bots, or online (up to 12 players). There is a decently sized online community considering this is a downloadable title, and I was able to find at least 1 or 2 games throughout the days I tested it. Also, it would have been nice to see more multiplayer options available. For instance, I thought it would be neat to set up a “Black Ops Versus Guardian” match, but the bots are randomly assigned to each team.
For all you score junkies out there, there are leaderboards, and of course, trophies and achievements. You can also earn different costume parts to customize your character with different color schemes if you wish. There are 7 distinctly different levels for you to get your game on in, and I’d only go so far as to say one of them is inadequate.
One of the first questions a console shooter junkie might ask is “how hard are the bots?” Bot difficulty can certainly make or break the longevity of many titles, because if you were able to easily conquer the game’s AI, there would be no point in playing it for long. As for CellFactor, I’d contend that the AI is not extremely difficult, but they’re certainly no cakewalk either. The AI also tends to make wise decisions when playing Capture The Flag or Assault, which is rare these days, considering most shooters ship with a complete lack of bots. Additionally, it’s nice to see the developers have a sense of humor, because they named a few of the robot AI choices “Jhonny 5″, “Robopolice” and “R2D4″. You’re definitely going to be enjoying bot matches in CellFactor for a long while.
Overall, CellFactor isn’t a “classic” shooter: it simply gets the job done if you’re looking for a new affordable game. There’s enough diversity in this $10 package to justify a purchase for fans looking for a distraction from the next big budget title.
Reviewer’s note: The PSN version was tested for this review
CellFactor doesn't present any groundbreaking designs, but everything fits well together.
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While the three classes could have definately used some more diversity, there aren't any game breaking issues.
Everything is pretty average in the sound department, except the very low quality pistol sound effects.
30 single player challenges, 7 maps, and online/local play isn't bad for $10.
CellFactor doesn't go above and beyond the shooter curve, but it gets the job done for an affordable price. Definately grab a friend and play split-screen.