When I was asked if I wanted to review Nexuiz, I immediately performed my standard decision making routine. I quickly Googled the game, paying most attention to screenshots and videos, because I’m lazy like that and have the attention span of a moth. I was naturally intrigued by what resembled a fast-paced online shooter of old. Any Unreal Tournament or Quake 3 fanatic would surely have felt the same nostalgic tingle. So, I said yes.
There is no denying that Nexuiz is a throwback to old school multiplayer shooters. Sadly, it’s a pretty forgettable experience that fails to distinguish itself from… pretty much anything, ever.
The game modes are limited to death1 match and capture the flag. Unfortunately, in an era where developers like DICE and Infinity Ward have pushed the boundaries in terms of what sort of gameplay mechanics can be implemented, Nexuiz falls well short of the mark here. There are nine maps, each of which is designed with one of the two game modes, and sadly, they only really work well with a full complement of 8 players. This is a problem, because I often found myself playing the game with 3 or four other people, probably because everybody else on Xbox Live is busy playing Halo or Call of Duty.
In fairness, the game will feel familiar to old school shooter fans, and I think that is what Illfonic was going for. It is a straight-up, fast paced, fixed spawn shooter with symmetrical maps. However, none of the maps succeed at being memorable or interesting, and nor do the weapons which all feel like they were lifted from Unreal Tournament.
My favourite thing about Nexuiz is the implementation of “dynamic mutators.” These are found scattered around the maps, and finding them temporarily changes the game in a variety of ways. When a mutator is available, players are prompted to choose one of three effects. These include basic things, like improved shotgun firing rate, or double height jumps for your entire team. There is even a mutator which swaps out all the game’s regular sound effects for fart noises.
Nexuiz also has a persistent progression system, which ties into the dynamic mutator system. As you play you earn points which you can spend on weighting the die roll toward specific mutator effects that you prefer. It’s not exactly a game changer, and it’s not likely to keep players desperately coming back for more, but it is at least a unique take on a stale system.
Nexuiz is for the most part a forgettable experience that some will find vaguely amusing. I don’t mind games like that, and I kind of respect Illfonic for mixing in some new ideas with a classic formula. My biggest gripe with Nexuiz is its networking issues. Matchmaking takes way too long, and I often waited 10 minutes or longer to get a game. The games are also pretty laggy, even in comparison to other first person shooters when played locally on console with international players. So in light of this, I’m actually kind of relieved that the game itself is so easy to walk away from.