Electronic Arts and Bioware are now taking their turn at the “looter shooter” genre that has been perfected by games like Gearbox’s “Borderlands” series and Bungie’s “Destiny” series. “Looter shooters” are games that have a heavy focus on obtaining new and better equipment throughout the game, such as weapons that enemies drop for the player’s use. The latest of these styles of game, “Anthem,” revolves around the use of mech suits, called Javelins, that give the players super soldier powers such as the ability to fly. Players can also use shield walls, lightning bolts, rockets and withstand a large amount of damage. The game also focuses largely on cooperative play, and many missions are locked to groups with less than four players.
Graphically, the game engine is the smoothest I’ve ever seen use the third-person shooter genre look—from the dynamic water physics to the way the player slides down mountains. The game runs beautifully on the PS4 model I played it on, with no noticeable frame drops during even the heaviest times of action. The combat sequences are very smooth as well, with a plethora of weapons at the player’s disposal, despite certain weapons being locked. The shooting mechanics feel very solid, and all of the weapons handle in a controllable and predictable manner relative to the amount of damage they do.
The biggest beauty of the game is in its movement mechanics. No game I’ve ever played does flying better. This is the first game where I feel like I can fly anywhere with absolute precision. Running and jumping around the map to pursue enemies provides a sense of control that many modern games with third-person shooting perspectives lack.
Despite these attributes, negatives are abundant in the game as well. The most glaring issue that the game has is that it feels unfinished. It lacks an abundance of content that many games of its caliber provide. When I am 10 hours into a game and cannot find anything to do, it is not a good sign. Another problem is the story of the game. It throws a ton of information at the player without explaining anything and left me feeling like I did not know the enemies, allies or any of the characters in the game.
One of the main factions you fight in the game, called the Scar, seems to have no backstory. The enemies in this game lack creativity in all fashions, while similar games, like “Destiny” and “Borderlands 2” have had grand scale enemies and characters that left an impression on the player. I truly could not name the leader of the main enemy factions in “Anthem.” I do not even think I could tell you the name of anyone except Owen, the player’s glorified assistant, and Zoe, mechanic of the Javelins.
As a cohesive unit, “Anthem” is a marvel of an engine and graphics, but the content of the game is lacking. Another three months in production would have benefitted this game and would have produced a much more complete title. This game will still be satisfying fans of the “looter shooter” genre or third-person shooter style, because it is a great example of both. But for those looking for a compelling story and characters that are well-rounded and engaging, I would either wait for this game to release more content or avoid it altogether.