Nerf Arena Blast
|a game by||Visionary Media, Inc.|
|Editor Rating:||6/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||6.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Have you ever heard of Nerf guns? Made from brightly coloured plastic, they fire varying numbers of foam pellets at high velocity and they're designed to teach kids that shooting people can be fun. Hang on, that's not quite right. They're designed to teach kids that shooting people is wrong. No, that can't be it either. Whatever. They're toy guns and they're really big in America right about now, although we always thought that American kids bypassed toys like this and graduated straight to the real McCoy.
In this virtual-reality driven world, this is the logical progression. Hasbro, having seen that first-person shooters are the most popular genre on the PC at the moment, has decided to take the toy and merge it with the Unreal engine to come up with the first ever shooting game aimed at kids.
Before you start shooting, you're led through a simple training course that teaches you how to look around with the mouse and move with the keyboard. The basic FPS skills that we all know off by heart. When you've proved you can control your character, you're taken through your first deathmatch, except it's not called a deathmatch because that might scare younger viewers - try PointBlast instead.
This takes place in a Day-Glo arena that's been designed to resemble one of those nightmarish fun parks, complete with huge slide and the obligatory little brats running around and making too much noise. The beauty of this is that you're encouraged to shoot them with weapons that vary from the single shot to the wild-shot (like the Flak Canon in UT), the guided missile or the nasty bouncing beach ball. 'Erase' a brat and a points total appears in its place, which you need to pick up to claim the 'kill'. This leads to highly annoying episodes where you shoot someone just to watch some fat kid called Wes run up and snatch the points from under your nose. Finish high enough at your first PointBlast and the Plaza opens up offering you a run at the other arenas, up to Championship level.
This is where the 'fun' begins. As well as the standard deathmatch, ArenaBlast offers other games, which involve collecting balls and throwing them through holes to score points (BallBlast), or the race (SpeedBlast) where you have to charge around a narrow track and run through all the flags before your opponents. It adds an extra dimension to the game, which is good because the standard deathmatch is very boring and the AI is sub-Quake (ie not very good at all). Full multiplayer capabilities have been built in as well and, if you end up buying this game, this is where you're likely to end up - provided you can find anyone on the Internet to play.
And that's about it. You should know how good the Unreal engine is and the decision to license this rather than build one from scratch means that NerfArenaBlast! is a competent shooter. However, no-one in their right mind is going to buy this instead of Quake III or our favourite Unreal Tournament Let's face facts: if parents are worried about their children playing violent games like either of the latter, they're hardly likely to buy a game that's exactly the same except for the lack of blood and the inclusion of brightly coloured levels. At the end of the day, you're still teaching kids to shoot things. The only plus point that we can see is that the younger generation is going to learn how to use a mouse and a keyboard. And when they're old enough, we'll be ready to take their heads off with a single shot between the eyes.