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Posted by GG Goblin On July - 25 - 2018

It’s Left 4 Dead, innit.

It’s been some ten years since Valve’s Left 4 Dead launched and had us all fighting back waves of zombies with friends, and in that ten years there have been plenty of other pretenders to the co-operative shooter crown, some more successful than others. Most of these games have tried to tweak the formula in one way or another, switching up the dynamics or building up the story or setting around the gameplay. Either way, anyone interested in joining up with a couple of friends and fighting for their lives have plenty of choice.

So, along comes Earthfall from Holospark, a more direct Left 4 Dead clone that has the player face off against an alien invasion rather than the zombie apocalypse.

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Earthfall has four survivors work their way through two campaigns, each with five levels, to presumably save the world from extra-terrestrial invasion. There is not a lot of background to work with here, very little is given away explaining what is actually going on, and the same can be said of the four survivors that players will be stepping into the boots of. While there is some lore to be found through the levels, narrative depth is not something that seems to be important here. However, when it is all about working with friends to fight off wave after wave of alien menace, I guess the reasons why don’t really matter so much.

Starting off with simple pistols, the players will be able to find a decent variety of different weapons through the various levels to use against the aliens. There are all of your usual suspects, such as assault rifles, shotguns and dual wield pistols, along with some more exotic heavy weapons that the player can use until they run out of ammunition. There are also various melee weapons and a selection of explosives to add some more bang to the game.

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While all of the weapons felt substantial and powerful, the shooting mechanic itself left a little to be desired. The aiming felt too light and twitchy, making precision targetting much more difficult than it needed to be. While big guns or fast firing weapons can cope with the occasional errant bullet, it can still be frustrating, especially when friendly fire is a thing and with ammunition being limited. The shooting mechanic wasn’t game breaking, but it did make the game less enjoyable than it could have been.

Working through the levels, there will come times when a particular event, such as opening a door, will trigger a swarm, a massive onslaught of aliens that the team has to survive. It is times like these that players need to prepare for what’s coming, by making sure they all have plenty of weapons and ammunitions, but also by setting up defences. Barricades can be found that players can pick up and carry to openings, where they can be set up to slow the tide. These are great because players can pass through them and shoot through them, but they will hold back the aliens until they are destroyed. The barricades can be further armoured with traps, and there are even some turrets that can be set up to help.

When it comes to the aliens, there are a nice selection, but nothing surprising. You have your standard rank and file alien, then there are aliens that will jump at you, aliens that will shoot at you, an exploding alien, an alien that will get all of the other aliens annoyed, and a hulking brute of an alien that will prove to be a real pain in the backside. There are a few others that mix things up a bit, such as the alien that will grab a player and then try to run away, or the zippy teleporting alien, but for the most part anyone who played Left 4 Dead will recognise the threat.

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As is always the case, players will have to work together to survive. Helping team mates, by healing them when they need it or rescuing them from those kidnapping aliens, will make up a lot of the game. When a player loses enough health, they will collapse to the floor, unable to move until helped by a team mate, although they will still be able to use their pistol on aliens around them. Lose more health, and the player will fall unconscious and have to wait on the side lines for someone to heal them. If all four players fall unconscious, it’s back to the beginning of the level I’m afraid.

Earthfall is a co-op game, and so is best played with friends. However, there is a single player option, with the AI taking control of the other three team mates. There are a variety of different difficulty levels to play with, but players can also change the skill of their AI team mates, which will certainly give solo players plenty of options when it comes to challenge, although I can’t imagine any situation where I want my survivor companions to all be stupid.

Visually, the game doesn’t look too bad. The level design itself often feels unimaginative and lacking personality, but it looks nice, and the alien models themselves are pretty cool, if a little generic. The game doesn’t feel out of place on the current consoles, but it is not exactly cutting edge.

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Earthfall is so much like Left 4 Dead that you can’t help but feel a little disappointed considering the ten years that have passed. The lack of originality is a problem, as is the less than solid shooting mechanics. However, with a bunch of friends there is still plenty of fun to be had. If you have been desperately searching for a co-op shooter to play with friends, then Earthfall will fill the gap until something new comes along.




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