Developer: Spiral Game Studios
Release Date: Friday, May 4th 2012
Genre: FPS Survival Co-op
There isn't many good dinosaur related games out there on the market, and not many that really capture the actual terror that these prehistoric lizards can portray (Jurassic Park The Game, Dino-Day). The Jurassic Park films certainly brought dinosaurs to life, and let us see this prehistoric giants in their natural habitat, and well killing people.
Then, along comes ORION: Dino Beatdown a game developed by an indie development studio "Spiral Games". Dino Beatdown isn't your traditional survival co-op game, or even your traditional dinosaur game. Allow me to explain.
GameplayDino Beatdown is a survival co-op game that supports up to 5 players whom can explore large, open world maps and see how well they fare against the dino horde. Sounds simple enough, right? Not exactly.
When players first hop into a game, they'll be presented with three class choices. Assault, Support and Recon. Each class their own specific uses, and abilities and that can alter the pacing of the game.
First up we have Assault which seems to be the basic, and most user-friendly class. Players pretty much take on the role of an everyday soldier, but with one unique twist. The Assault Class can rock a jet-pack which proves pretty useful when you're trying to get away from Raptors, or a T-Rex on the ground but there's the risk of getting picked out of the sky by a Rham.
Next up is the Support class which is, if you guessed it the burly support guy, with a twist. He's a big, burly medic. Unlike most games that feature a Medic based class, this guy takes the stereotype and flips it upside down. The Support Class is a power-house, who has the special ability of busting out his Medic Gun and healing his team-mates. That's pretty darn handy, especially when Raptors are everywhere!
A player running away from both a Raptor, and T-Rex.
Finally, we have the Recon class which is a favorite for all of you who prefer to not be seen, and hunt the Dinosaurs instead of them hunting you. The Recon Class has the special ability to cloak and go invisible for a short amount of time, which proves extremely useful when a T-Rex is breathing right down your neck. Careful though, it seems like she can't take much damage though from our reptilian friends.
Not only do you have some awesome classes to choose from when you play the game, you also have a variety of vehicles to use as well as three-types of dinosaurs to encounter in-game (now don't worry, they've planned more dinosaurs in future releases as Free-Title Updates). Those dinosaurs include the ever ferocious pack of hungry carnivores, the Raptors. Raptors run in groups/packs and are extremely dangerous and capable of leaping great distances to catch their prey. They're extremely dangerous once you've been swarmed, so watch out and prepare to run faster.
I really like the Raptors, yes I'm tossing in my opinion really quick. It was great to be running through the environments and having a pack of ravenous Raptors hot on my tail trying to eat me. It can get extremely tense when one is chasing you down, especially an entire pack. I found out that melee is actually incredibly useful against these guys, so get ready to swing some punches and kill some dinosaurs!
Then there's the king of the dinosaurs, the tyrant lizard. The T-Rex, who has been aptly named Sally for the game, and the ORION universe I believe. This dinosaur is the one you need to watch out for as she's just a mean, killing machine. The Rex is capable of picking up boulders with its powerful jaws and hurl them at you which can explode vehicles, and deal some serious damage and maybe even one-hit kill you. It's also extremely terrifying, and that's what I love about this game is it actually captures the essence and terror from T-Rex running towards you. You feel quite helpless when its jaws are closing in, and yes the Rex can eat you as well as the other dinosaurs, which is actually quite nice. There was one occasion where I was fleeing from a pack of Raptors, and was running low on ammunition and the Rex picked up a Raptor in its jaws and killed it. I was so overjoyed because it reminded me on a scene in the original Jurassic Park film where the Rex kills a Raptor by picking it up in its jaws and tossing it into a skeleton display which saves Alan Grant, and the group. I love memorable moments like that when I play a game, and Dino Beatdown is amazing at capturing said moments. Also, a word of advice to anyone playing this game you cannot ride the T-Rex, or think driving a vehicle into it will cause any damage...to it of course. I was greeted by my vehicle exploding when I hit the Rex, good laughs indeed were produced.
Two players battle it out with a T-Rex, while using jetpacks!
Again, if you're a little taken back by there only being three dinosaurs right now be aware that this game is in the early stages of it's release. They've planned more dinosaurs, weapons, and what-not to be released in the coming months as Free Title Updates. That's wicked!
Then, we finally have the Rhamphoryncus (or however it's spelled). The Rhams are pretty much similar to what everyone calls Pteradons. Now, the cool thing about this dinosaur and probably why it's my favorite in the game so far is that it can be your worst enemy, and sometimes even your savior. I cannot stress how many moments there's been an occasion where a Rex is barreling towards me, and a Rham picks me out of the sky and carries me to safety. Now, sometimes you'll survive a fall from a height, and you'll be fine (you'll be a tad hurt) but then there's moments where you'll be carried too far up, and fall to a gruesome and hilarious end.
For instance, I was playing with a friend (Mono) and we were driving on the night-time world Eden I believe and a Rham picked him up from the turret attachment of a vehicle and carried him away. Laughter erupted, and we had a blast.
Now, you don't have to travel on foot around the worlds you also have the aid of vehicles which can be purchased from the Garage with credits you earn in-game by completing objectives, and killing dinosaurs. Which I like because you can't just camp out in one area (well, you can but you'll die) because you'll need to have a generator on that way you can purchase items, vehicles, upgrades, etc as well as replenish health and ammo and the generators are scattered around the map at 4 points, so it really urges the players to explore. Which I love! Mainly because in most survival/co-op games I found that camping in one area for an entire game gets boring and tedious where as Dino Beatdown rectifies that problem and provides a solid experience with a unique play-through every-time.
First up for your vehicles is the first vehicle you should encounter as it spawns on the map is the "Gladiator". Which pretty much resembles a Warthog from Halo, but looks much, much cooler, is blue and has the ability to do a turbo boost. The Gladiator has three seats available allowing up to three buddies to hop into one of these bad-boys and go cruising. The mounted turrets on these bad-boys prove incredible useful against a swarm of Raptors, and even against a Rex. Just, make sure the guy on the turret doesn't get picked up by a Rham. Yes, that is possible and it's hilarious. Also, make sure you don't stray too close to a Rex as they can knock the Gladiator out of the way with their head, throw boulders at it, or just step on it which can blow it up all three ways if I remember.
Not a fan of ground vehicles? Fair enough. Then the Falcon (VTOL) is for you. The VTOL seems to be the combination of a helicopter, and jet which has been tossed into one lethal and bad-ass combination of dinosaur killing. The Falcon is capable of taking to the skies to help take out Rhams, and provide air support for your friends on the ground. They have two attacks from what it seems which is your standard machine gun, and then the ability to fire missiles which is fucking awesome! It's so satisfying to fly at the canopy of the world and fire missiles down on a pack of raptors and watch their corpses go flying.
An example of the Dragonlfy Hoverbike. Isn't she magnificent?
Who here likes Star Wars? Do any of you remember the Speeder Bike sequence where Luke and Leia are chasing down the Troopers on Endor using speeder-bikes? You do!? Then you'll have instant nerd-boner when you witness the Dragonfly Hover-Bike. Now, I'm a huge Star Wars fan and seeing a hoverbike in this game made me extremely happy that I need to buy one, and race around the map hitting Raptors. This vehicle is extremely fast, but doesn't have any weaponry which means you're sort of unprotected but can still ram into Raptors and kill them. It's a great choice for getting around maps, and is pretty awesome to take of jumps "SINCE IT HOVERS". I was quite sad when I accidentally drove into a Rex and died.
The final vehicle as of right now in Dino Beatdown is the Cobra and it's a mech. Yes, you can run around in a Mech and cause havoc to our reptilian friends. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a mech in a dinosaur survival game. Ultimate carnage, because you can use your mini-guns on your arms, fire rockets, and also stomp on Raptors when they get too close. This thing just screams that you're a bad-ass, but I highly recommend if a Rex is near you and you're in a Mech, that you bail and run away. You'll die.
As, I've mentioned before Dino Beatdown is a survival co-op game with an objective. There's bases around each map that each hold a generator. Your objective is to protect the generator you have turned on, and if that generator is destroyed (unless you're playing Support and have the Engineer upgrade which allows you to repair generators and vehicles) you need to activate another at one of the other bases you can purchase weapons, upgrades, vehicles etc as I mentioned above. Thats what I love about this game, it gives us something to do other than camp in one spot and see who gets the highest kill count or lives the longest. At each of these bases you'll encounter a variety of buildings, each with their own unique way of helping out the players in their fight against the over-sized reptilians. You have your Garage where you can buy all of the vehicles mentioned for credits earned in game. You then have the Barracks where you can purchase upgrades such as Augmented Strength which can prevent fall damage (very useful indeed!), Augmented Agility which gives the player the ability to super-jump by holding down the space-bar. Perfect for classes who can't use jetpacks! Then, there's the the Augmented Armor perk which grants you 2x Shields, and 2x shield regen rate. Perfect for your survival, and you can also pick up class based upgrades here as well, also players spawn in this building (and you'll respawn here if you've died and your buddies complete a wave).
The final building is the Armory where you can purchase everything weaponry! This includes weapons like Magnums, Shotguns, Machine Guns, Laser Rifles, Rocket Launchers and more.
The Terror in the sky, the Rham!
My opinion of the over-all game-play is that it's solid, and probably one of the best co-op experiences I've ever had with a game. Dino Beatdown does everything right. The only negative thing I might say is that sometimes the action may not be there for some of you right away, but once you get to the higher waves the game gets action-packed and intense. Nothing like having two T-Rex's running at you.
Graphics & Sound
Let's just take a minute to talk about how the game looks, and I apologize in advance as this section is always the smallest as I'm just covering the look, and sounds within the game. ORION: Dino Beatdown is created in the Unreal Engine which means it should look nice right? Luckily, the game is gorgeous and the team behind all the art design, mapping, and character modeling, etc has done a fantastic job at making an immerse environment, and something you can get lost in.
Not only that, but they did a fantastic job at capturing the essence of what you'd expect in this situation from the looks of the environment, the vehicles, even the dinosaurs. Everything looks spot on, and the game is gorgeous. I feel bad because there were often times where I'd be too focused admiring the environment and my team-mates were getting killed by dinosaurs. Clever, clever, clever.
Also, the night-time world of Eden is freaking gorgeous. The whole atmosphere, and feeling for that world was captured correctly, and really shows the hard work that this team put into designing, and coming up with these worlds. Well done Spiral Games, well done.
If you know me you know I'm a killer for a well done sound assets in a game, and would know that I loved the Narrator in Bastion, you'll be pleased to know that Dino Beatdown hits everything on the head, and does it well when it comes to the sound for the game. The announcer is probably the best announcer I've heard in one of these games, with him sounding like Optimus Prime at some parts in the game really makes me smile, not to mention he does the dialogue for the Support, and Assault classes. The versatility of the voice-actor they hired is fantastic.
The Announcer sounds like Optimus Prime. I love it.
Not only does the announcer make the game awesome, but does the ambiance and sounds the dinosaurs make. The sound of the ground thundering as a Rex runs towards you, the hissing of Raptors as they jump around you, and dash about and even the shrieking of a Rham as it swoops in to pick you up. Pay attention to those shrieks by the way, it may save you life! Everything about this game feels right from the look, and just the whole feel the game brought to life with their sounds, and environments.
Over-all, ORION: Dino Beatdown is by far the best co-operative experience I've ever witnessed and is already making it's way to my list of favorite games of all time. It's a great experience from the solid, co-operative game-play, to the majestic sounds and environments that are captured on the three massive worlds we've been presented. Plus, for $10 this game is a bargain, and you'll get hours of fun from the purchase.
- A solid co-operative experience that has ton of re playability and a new outcome every-time you boot up the game.
- Everything feels balanced, and you don't feel incredibly useless when dinosaurs attack. You feel like you stand a chance.
- The game still produces that feeling of terror, and insanity you expect from a survival game but seems to increase that feeling with using large enemies like the T-Rex, and airborne enemies like the Rham.
- Massive, open world maps to explore while killing dinosaurs.
- The addition of vehicles really makes the experience that much more enjoyable, and can cause some pretty fun, and hilarious moments when outrunning a Rex in a Gladiator (jeep.)
- At $10 this game is a steal, and well worth the price. I'd happily pay $60 for the game.
- Also, Free Title Updates to come that will include new dinosaurs, weapons, classes and more.
- A variety of achievements that are fun, and difficult to get.
- The ability to buy upgrades, vehicles, and weapons with in-game currency.
- Sometimes matches can start off slow, but they'll ramp up in scale, and difficulty quickly. Don't let this sour your views on the game!
- Some players I encountered decided to 'Rambo' their way through the level, and you'd really feel taken away from the experience. Play with friends, it's a great co-op game, and it's still enjoyable when you play alone.
So, is Dino Beatdown a fantastic game? It sure is when everything works., and I give ORION: Dino Beatdown a GIANT THUMBS UP! This game will be released tomorrow on Steam for $10, and it's well worth the purchase!