First Looks// Extraction (aka Dirty Bomb)

Posted 17 Sep 2013 11:30 by
UK developers Splash Damage have been making team based FPS games for some time. They started out making an expansion for Return to Castle Wolfenstien in 2003, which was eventually released as a standalone game called Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory that can now be downloaded and played for free.

They went on to develop Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Brink. They are a studio that is very much focussed on creating the team play aspect of FPS games and bringing them to an online space, as they are familiar with local play via a LAN and feel that they can replicate this using team based play as a core to its FPS titles.

Extraction is the new name for Dirty Bomb, a follow up title to Brink, it takes away a lot of the complexity of that title and just focuses on objectives. This is not too dissimilar to Counter Strike only rather than just having one objective, multiple tasks are presented to both sides, which have to be completed in the fastest time possible. The side that finishes the mission the fastest wins the match.

Set in a near future London that has been irradiated due to a dirty bomb being set off by known forces. The city is now deserted and players take on the role of mercenaries who are trying to extract data from the city on behalf of their paymasters.

Players can select a base set of character classes that range from heavy infantry and sniper through to all round assault and medic. These can be further modified by buying items within the in-game store that can be bought either by real money or the game's currency.

The latter is earned based on victories and time played in the game. This is still subject to change of course, as most free to play finance models are in a state of flux prior to a game's release. Nevertheless Splash Damage have put pains to downplay any concerns over a pay-to-win model emerging as they believe such systems run counter to player's experience.

I jumped into a game session during PAX Prime where the game was being premiered and the booth was extremely sizeable. The mission both teams had to complete was to divert a train and set up and explosion that would derail it. We quickly set off with everyone communicating via headsets and delivering orders as to where to move to and to ensure all players were covered by someone else.

We started off as the attacking team and ran in a 2x2 formation towards the first objective, which was a junction box. We had to hack it in order to divert the train into where we will be setting off an explosion to detail it. The opposing team's job was to prevent us from doing that. Provided they slowed us down, their chances of winning the match was increased.

As we tried to hack the terminal the defenders did a good job of preventing us from overrunning the junction point, but they were aided by the fact that all players were bullet sponges. Many was the time I almost emptied an entire magazine into people before they finally fell down.

This, more than anything, was the most frustrating aspect of Extraction I had to contend with. Having to pump tonnes of lead into opponents slows the game down and agitates the player, hopefully this will be addressed as they continue to develop the game.

Eventually we managed to divert the train and set off the charge. The train went off the rails as planned and the action reversed with the defenders and attackers swapping roles. We altered our team set up with medics and ammo suppliers making up most of the team, with one heavy assault player (me).

This was a wise plan as we could revive players as they came under fire and thus maintain a solid defence. We had one or two scares, with the bomb almost going off with it being defused with only seconds to spare. I'm happy to say we were victorious as we managed to slow the opposing team down considerably.

Extraction does look outwardly somewhat generic and at casual glance does not stand out very much from a myriad of other shooters. The difference here is in the team play, which is something Extraction relies on heavily as its primary appeal.

From what I played of Extraction it appears Splash Damage have learnt their lesson from Brink, which was an overly complex game with a messy GUI that lead to a confusing and frustrating experience all round. By stripping everything back to basics Extraction has a chance to make an impact, my only concern is how it is going to divert people's attention from other FPS games out there.

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