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Move Over Optimus A New Breed Of Robot Is Born
Giant robots games aren't really a popular theme in the MMO world. There are a few Southeast Asian based games but they rarely cater to a worldwide audience. But simply put, this 2005 MMO action game, is one of the best free-to-play action games available.
NCSoft really, really outdid themselves with Exteel. Even though the game suffers from some occasional latency issues when the action gets really hectic, this has to be one of the most fast-paced, action-packed, gorgeously designed MMO action games ever made. Taking a page out of Sega’s giant-mecha robot playbook, NCSoft’s Exteel is a mix of Virtual-On: Cyber Troopers and Alaplaya’s S4 League. If anyone has played any of the aforementioned games, you know darn well that such a combination is a combustible collaboration of mind-blowing fun.
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I don’t believe there are proper words to describe the action in Exteel, other than that the game is extremely fast-paced and action-packed from the start of a match to the end. It's not like Gunz: The Duel, though, as players will have to use a heck of a lot of skill to stay alive and land a kill. Most matches have 10 minute time limits but it always feels so much shorter. It’s almost too easy to throw away hours on this game without even recognizing it.
One of the things that really make the gameplay unique, though, is that much like Virtual-On there are long range weapons and melee weapons. The long range weapons such as pistols, rifles, shotguns and cannons each behave differently and are good for specific combat scenarios. It’s also awesome how sniping is handled far differently in this game than most others…mainly because players have to lock-on to targets before taking a shot at them with certain cannons.
The melee weapons are quite extensive in this game, and include shields, spears, blades and swords. Given the setup of the mechs, players can choose what goes in the left and right hand of their mech and this makes for some nifty weapon combinations, including using two shields. And just to assuage those who are wary of the melee combat in this game, it’s actually handled really, really well and it’s very fleshed out.
It’s not just having a wide cache of weapons to choose from, though. Exteel also sports various skills that allow players to perform grab attacks, counters, launch missiles, or perform a number of other outrageous feats. The gameplay for Exteel is exceptionally steep and carries a lot of depth for players who prefer action-arcade games that actually rely on a modicum of skill.
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Graphics And Sound
The thing that surprised me so much about Exteel is that the game actually looks like it belongs on the Xbox 360. It’s not just that the game has newer-generation graphics and visual effects, but it’s also that it runs amazingly smooth. The framerate is just absolutely top-rate stuff to have as much action and mayhem all taking place on screen at once. In one particular stage there are two massive, giant battleships doing battle in space while players are battling it out on the upper decks. It’s a real sight to see and just part of the amazing visual repertoire that the game has to offer.
The sound is just as good as the graphics and it’s a non-stop action-fest for the audio, which highly compliments the rich and detailed visual look of the game. Of particular note, the robot parts are very original and uniquely detailed, so as players level up and earn more cash it’s rare that players will ever come across a clone.
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Before praising the concept of this game and forgetting that there is a minor peeve that I have, I’m going to go ahead get this out of the way: Inside the parts and equipment store it’s a little tough to tell exactly what parts are better for the mech and ultimately it just boils down to what looks best for the mech considering that various parts will raise or decrease attributes in almost mildly infinitesimal ways. Unless, of course, one of the super-expensive parts are purchased…then the mech is bound to kick major butt. Alot of it is based on picking and playing with the part in the game rather than being able to tell exactly how well a part will perform just based on the stats.
Anyway, Exteel is a lot like a typical third-person, action-oriented shooter but with an equally strong focus on melee combat, cash-shop items, and upgrades, similar to the likes of BattleSwarm or CrimeCraft. The game modes are all varied and equally fun to play, whether it is the last stand mode against NPCs, territory control, deathmatch or the team deathmatch. The pacing and fun-factors are extremely high even when losing…yep, this is probably one of the few games where it’s still fun to lose. Yet the design concept is more about retaining fun through the gameplay rather than focusing too much on always winning, and the fact that players earn cash by the amount of time they play as opposed to simply racking up kills makes it more convenient and welcoming to players who have a tough time earning credits by downing opponents.
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Exteel is an excellent action game just all the way around. There aren’t any games out there like this other than Armored Core, but that still leaves PC gamers bereft of some armored, mechanized combat. With Exteel’s free-to-play model in place and its amazing scalability for low-end and high-end PCs, it’s a definite must-try for anyone who remotely loves customizing their own robot or taking on opponents in arcade-style, fast-paced action.
Fans of Virtual-On will finally get a worthy PC follow-up in Exteel and there’s nothing to be disappointed with in this game. Hands down, I definitely recommend Exteel for action gamers.