What is Blockstorm, exactly? At first glance, seemingly nothing more than a 2-bit Ace of Spades clone. After some time with it . . . just an Ace of Spades clone. But a good one. A really good one. One that's hell of a lot better than the games it derives its core concept from. And that's fantastic.
Admittedly, from the general premise of the title, to the graphics themselves, there's little here that really jumps out at the player, presenting the game as anything more than the similar (and lackluster) titles that came before it. After playing around with it over the last few weeks, what the game does offer is a surprisingly rewarding, and thoroughly entertaining, experience. There's a first time for everything, right? Well, here's the first time that a voxel-based competitive shooter offered anything more than mediocrity. As far as I am aware of, anyway.
Blockstorm is an easy concept to wrap your head around. Players are dumped into a user-generated, voxel-based world where everything is destructible. The players are then given the option of loadout, providing them in the way of armor, guns, and a secondary weapon. Everything has a weight set to it, affecting the overall speed of your character. They are also allotted a number of blocks to do with as they please. Used for anything from building walls or repairing fortifications, to building the always entertaining “Pillar of Awesomeness” - a 100 block high pillar that you can topple over with a well placed rocket blast, plummeting its builder to their death.
It's this sort of randomness, along with the fun gameplay on offer, that makes this such an entertaining experience.
Defying its cartoonish art style, the gunplay seen in Blockstorm isn't overly accommodating, requiring a decent level of skill and precision when handling the game's rifles, sub-machine guns and boomsticks. There is a weighty kick to the weaponry, where recoil is something you need to pay fair mind to, and watching the pace of your shots is a must.
The tight gameplay, combined with the destructible environments and building elements keeps rounds feeling fresh even after hours of playtime. The fact that the community is out there, creating their own maps and characters, means that this is a game that keeps on giving, considering the community keeps up with it all.
And there lies the issue though . . . not many people ARE playing. A rather small number, sadly. If you log into the game at the time of writing, you can expect to get into a game of Death Match or Team Deathmatch, though no promises that you'll have a full lobby. Chances are you won't. Their third game type, Assault, don't even try. Nobody to be found there.
This issue is a big one. This is a title meant specifically for multiplayer, so there is no singleplayer content to think of (though it may be added in the future). It's a game that revolves around its community playing and contributing to the title, but they just aren't to be found.
What we have at the moment is an Early Access title that, in its current state, already feels like a finished product. A fun one at that. It's a worthwhile time that deserves to be played, but isn't.
This hasn't stopped the developers from actively improving the game. Just earlier this month they patched the game, adding new maps and bug fixes. Do I recommend this title on the merits as a game itself? Yes. It is a great time that I see me putting a fair amount more time into. Can I actually recommend you purchase it, however? That's a hard one. Without more players, this game has nothing going for it. It needs a larger audience but, at the same time, recommending it to others doesn't feel right. There's simply no promising the game won't fizzle out tomorrow, leaving said purchase wasted.
Hrm . . .
If it's something you really think you would take to, it's a fun game. There's a lot of effort on display here and the developers deserve compensation, I feel. Just keep in mind the fact that you may not get your money's worth out of the purchase.
The title is approaching gold status, so there is hope of a pickup in player base once the game officially releases. I certainly would like to see it.
Until then, buyer beware . . . but it is kind of great.