New, Used, Abused: Warmonger

Warmonger, developed by NetDevil, is a FPS game that takes new physics technology and uses it to the fullest potential.

It was comissioned by Nvidia to show off their new Physx technology, which allows physics processing to be used on Nvidia graphics cards, and released it for free. While physics runs fine on CPU to an extent, physics on a graphics card allows physics that can only be impoved upon by buying a physics card, something no one in my knowledge had done.

As a comparison between CPU and GPU(graphical processor unit):
CPU: Boxes can be moved around and thrown realistically.
CPU: Dead bodies fly around realistically.

GPU:Cloth moves in the wind and can be shot to make holes, seperatin the fabric in half if done right, or nearly cut in half and rips when the wind blows too hard.
GPU: Walls break apart realistically, chunks moving as they should.

While CPU physics is quite acceptable, GPU physics can add an extra layer of immersion and fun, even creating new gameplay elements.

Warmonger is a game that not only takes GPU physics but creates a decent game with new elements based on the physics technology. The game itself is rather simple to explain, there’s a Team Deathmatch mode, and a Capture Point mode. In Deathmatch you pick up weapons from weapon spawn points, in Capture Point you get them at spawn by choice. There’s a machine gun that can shoot grenades, a gattling laser that can deploy a shield,  a rocket launcher, though don’t expect to be able to defend yourself with this. You pick up ammo boxes to restore ammo. You also get a pistol and a ice axe as sidearms.

The machine gun is rather standard, has a 30 round clip, a scope, but the grenade launcher is the most interesting function. You can fire grenades that stick to whatever hit it and detonate after 3 seconds. You CAN stick them to enemies, but it’s far more useful application is shooting down walls. The way the game is designed the bits you can destroy are preset, but it’s done in an incredibly realistic way, and I’m yet to find a wall that I’d expect that could be destroyed that couldn’t. This can provide shortcuts, create escape routes, or suprise enemies, though you only get three grenades in your clip.

The Gattling Laser is more difficult to use. If fired in free-aim you get massive recoil, making it impossible to hit practically anyone, but right click deploys a shield that reduces recoil to a managable level and protects you from enemy fire from wherever you’re facing, though it CAN be destroyed.

The rocket launcher is a weird weapon, it’s got a large amount of damage, but only has a 1 rocket clip, and is slow to load, also vunerable, which makes it practically useless because anything you might need it for can be done by the Machine Gun.

The ability to break through walls allows you to be incredibly creative with how you approach combat. People in pursuit? Shoot the wooden plank you just crossed. Someone capturing a capture point? Come in from behind and destroy them. It’s incredibly fun and rewarding when you us alternative combat methods in battle and are paid off with sucess. Hell, I’ve even been in laughter when I was crossing a plank of wood, someone shot me and it, leaving me on 1hp, and dying from the drop, it’s something I’ve never seen before in gaming, closest thing is the Gear of War 2 destructable cover system which is the same technology but dumbed down and hardly used.

Another new combat mechanic is the material which is around the map. While at first it’s seen as asthetic it can really affect combat. There’s a curtain over the hallway you want to guard. You can shoot off the two corners it’s hanging by, which makes it fall to the ground (looking AWESOME), and voila, you can guard the hallway. There’s even a chokepoint in one of the outdoor maps which segments the two sides, which really affects combat. You can decide to shoot off the corners and suddenly the battle changes, because people can see each other and act accordingly. You can also leave it in tact and rush through it with 3 minigunners, destroying the opposition and gaining an upper hand, the curtain making for a good tactical retreat point.

This game also concentrates on asthetics. It looks brilliant, but UT3 engine, everything does. The main asthetic feature is the random bits in the world that can be shot off the walls, random pieces of cloth, one level (my favorite for this reason) is set in a subway with tiled walls, which all can be shot off, it makes for some AWESOME firefight, tiles going everywhere, dust billowing, really adds to the immersion.

The game, while looks great graphically, it is more demanding than Crysis and requires specific hardware, which is probably why the concept hasn’t been expanded on, because I don’t reckon major game companies want to alienate half their audiences, though EA make a good job of it sometimes.

Also apparently there’s a plot. Never occured to me once to look for one.

While I thought it’d have a rather large following the game flopped quite spectualarly, with the best ranked players having 300 kills. In comparison I probably have over 1,000,000 kills in Team Fortress 2, and I’m not the best player by far. It’s rather disapointing that the game died quite quickly, probably due to the lack of advertising of the game, though since they aren’t getting paid for it it makes sense. I heard from somewhere that they were going to release a new version comercially, but I’ve not heard of it since so I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon.

Next week, hopefully on time, I’ll be writing about… L4D. Why not.

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