Red Crucible 2 review
Red Crucible 2 is a Facebook game from Rocketeer Games Studio that is also available on the open Web. It’s been showing activity since October of 2010, but has recently been showing strong growth thanks to a successful standalone launch on the Mac App Store, and also due to a feature spot in the new “3D Unity Games” section of Facebook’s App Center.
Red Crucible 2 is a Unity-powered synchronous multiplayer first-person shooter in which players can compete in large-scale battles on sprawling, open maps in an attempt to prove their skills. The game offers five different modes — Free for All, Last Man Standing, Team Deathmatch, Attack & Defend and Demolition — and 11 different maps on which to play. There is also a full in-game store allowing players to customize their character with new skins, weapons and consumable items.
The game’s main menu is a no-frills affair which looks rather drab and uninteresting, but which is at least accompanied by some stirring (if repetitive) background music. From here, players may quickly join the first available game, search for a game by specific type and map, create their own new game or browse all the currently available games. They may also look at their profile — though this did not appear to update correctly and accurately reflect win/loss statistics and gained experience at the time of writing — and browse the store.
Once into a game proper, the controls are standard for a PC first-person shooter — the mouse or trackpad looks around, while the W, S, A and D keys move the character forwards, backwards, left and right. The two mouse buttons are assigned to primary and secondary fire modes of a weapon, space bar jumps and shift sprints, while the E key allows for interacting with objects — usually vehicles. The large-scale, open-plan maps of Red Crucible 2 have a strong focus on vehicular combat — it is possible to compete on foot as an infantry unit, but this is generally a good way to go about getting killed very quickly, and the sheer number of vehicles scattered around each map mean that there’s no real need for anyone to do this. Vehicles range from armored personnel carriers through tanks to helicopters, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. There is inevitably a rush for the helicopters as soon as a match starts, as these are by far the most difficult to deal with from the ground.
While most of the controls in the game follow the conventions of first-person shooters, the vehicular controls do not. Most first-person shooters that incorporate vehicles these days adopt a control scheme whereby the vehicle always turns and faces the direction the camera is pointing when the “forward” key is pressed — not so in Red Crucible 2. Here, the vehicle always moves forward when the “forward” key is pressed, and only turns when the player presses the left and right keys. This does allow for driving in one direction and shooting in another, but is somewhat confusing, particularly to people who are used to the more widely-adopted control scheme seen in popular titles such as Halo.
Red Crucible is a solid multiplayer shooter with some very impressive graphical effects, but it’s not without its flaws. Vehicles are too easily blocked by scenery which they should really be able to drive over, for example — enormous tanks can be brought to a complete standstill by a waist-high wall when realistically they should be able to flatten it, and trees are seemingly made of concrete. It is understandable why this is the case, of course — allowing for a fully-destructible physics-based level would place unnecessarily huge demands on both the client computers and the amount of data being sent back and forth between them — but it’s still a little frustrating to find yourself stuck in a corner thanks to an obstacle that should really be no problem for a tank.
Perhaps a more serious issue is that some of the maps are simply too big. The vast, open-plan nature of the levels means that it’s very easy for a match’s 16 players to get lost and not see each other for quite some time. It is impressive to see levels of this scale in a first-person shooter, but levels in popular titles like Call of Duty and its ilk are kept small and tight for a reason — so there’s always some action going on. In Red Crucible 2, however, a significant portion of your time will be spent blindly wandering around the map hoping to run into someone. The large scale of the maps is clearly designed to cater to the use of vehicles, but even then it can be hard work finding an opponent — a problem exacerbated if whoever created the game happened to choose the “infantry only” option, which disables the use of vehicles altogether.
Red Crucible 2 is a good example of a Facebook game eminently suitable for “core” gamers. It doesn’t waste any time with patronizing, compulsory tutorials, simply allowing players to jump straight in and start playing and doesn’t represent any sort of dumbed-down, overly-simplified experience. This has the side-effect of making it somewhat less accessible to newcomers, but chances are the sort of gamer who wants to play this is probably already familiar with the control conventions of the genre and will thus pick things up rather quickly; it would still perhaps be good for an optional tutorial to be implemented for newcomers, however.
On the whole then, despite a few flaws, Red Crucible 2 is a good Facebook game that deserves to enjoy some success. It’s visually impressive, very playable and seems to have no trouble coping with large-scale synchronous multiplayer battles. It’s also an apt demonstration of the Unity engine’s flexibility, and proof to other developers and gamers that Facebook games don’t have to be in that distinctive “Flash game” cartoony style; they can instead look more akin to something you’d see in a standalone PC or console title.
Red Crucible 2 currently occupies the 500,000+ MAU tier with a ranking of 375, and the 50,000+ DAU tier with a ranking of 560. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
A solid, if slightly flawed, offering for core gamers on Facebook.