New World Order
You would have thought trying to counter the all-conquering Counter-Strike would be something of a futile endeavor for an unknown games developer to embark on. So hats off to codesters Termite Games for having the Swedish meatballs to come clean and have their game measured against the grandlady.
On paper the odds are against Termite; Counter-Strike's biggest threat to date was the recent Global Operations and that hardly registered a hit, despite the pedigree of its developers (who worked on Counter-Strike), and it also had a fair bit of marketing money behind it. Certainly lower in profile and (I'm guessing here) lacking similar financial resources, the form guide says Termite Games will have a tough job bettering Global Ops, let alone Counter-Strike. On paper, at least.
In the flesh, as it were, New World Order fares much better. Counter-Strike is looking older by the day. Global Ops, powered by the LithTech engine, never looked particularly amazing anyway. New World Order, it has to be said, is quite the young stallion. Developed in-house over many years. Termite Games has constructed for its first game a very competent 3D engine. Dubbed DVA, it boasts such features as real-time per-pixel lighting, bumpmapping, advanced particle and metaparticle rendering and blending. What all this indecipherable guff means is that New World Order looks very impressive, and playing through some early code on our rapidly ageing machines, we would say in terms of detail NWO is already on a par with Max Payne and in the coming months has the potential to better it.
Graphics are, however, secondary to gameplay and even if it were the case that every raindrop in the game is singularly, dynamically and accurately modelled (which we're told they are), it would matter not a jot if the gameplay was singularly, dynamically and accurately rubbish. Again we can report NWO shows some promise, since without wanting to sound derogatory, New World Order doesn't so much build on Counter-Strike as rebuild it, almost as if CS had never existed.
"Counter-Strike is a very good game" Admits Jokke Forsryd, audio maestro at Termite Games, "and New World Order is obviously very similar, since they are in the same genre. But we have made many improvements in the interface, the graphics, sound and damage detection. We're just trying to take Counter-Strike to the next level."
The similarities are more than just aesthetic upgrades. Mission-wise you can expect the same mix of hostage rescue and bomb defusing action that Counter-Strike provides. It's spread across 12 urban levels taking in settings as diverse as tight cobbled streets and sprawling shipping ports, with just the odd country mansion for good measure. The good news is that NWO plans to cater for all tastes, from simple one-on-one deathmatches all the way up to 64-player team games. Termite assures us that it plans to introduce a number of original game modes too, though of course it's keeping such things under its helmet.
Although we could only play a couple of deathmatch levels, if there was one thing that impressed us most it was the potential for some seriously frantic firefights. Indoors especially there is a lot of detail, with every element of the scenery offenng some impressive graphical feedback when fired upon. Even with just two combatants across a single room, you'll see shell casings ejecting everywhere, with plaster chipping off the walls and wood shavings flying through the air. Along with the graphics, the effect is heightened by the wonderful sounds, which are as varied as they are relentless.
Counter-Strike players will feel immediately at home playing New World Order, but there are some interesting differences. Although you get a score rather than cash for your bloodletting, points are dished out based on the amount of health you take away rather than simple kills. What this means is that if you take away 99 per cent of someone's health and someone comes along and takes your kill, you still get 99 per cent of the bounty. Different too is that you can carry more than a couple of weapons. However, each item you carry has a weight and the more you carry, the slower you will be. Simple and effective, which is just as it should be.
Though it may seem slightly unfair to dub New World Order as just another Counter-Strike, that is precisely what it is. Despite its age. CS is still incredibly popular and compared to NWO. totally free to the millions who already own a copy of Half-Ufe. Whether or not NWO will be better than Counter-Strike is a difficult one to call at this stage, but it certainly has the potential to go all the way.
New World Order is an unknown game from an unknown developer, as was Counter-Strike and Half-Life before it. We shall be keeping a close eye on its progress and we suggest you do the same.
Download New World Order
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Just as the playful kitten of hope is apt to wind up with the veterinarian of fate bearing the scalpel of inevitability, so any new online shooter is destined to be judged by the near impossible standards set up by the King Of All Games - Counter-Strike. Team Factor, Global Ops and a 1,001 Half-Life, Quake and Unreal mods have all came, saw and been conquered.
Which makes it all the more worrying that New World Order's pre-release publicity seems to have centred solely around how it's the new Counter-Strike. Given that moving an entrenched audience to pastures new is difficult at the best of times (just ask Wimbledon FC), when that audience is made up of the hardest of the hardcore gamers out there, it's liable to be a task not unlike moving the English Channel somewhere south of Malaysia using little more than a thimble.
Thing is, NWO's seemingly insurmountable task may not be all that far-fetched. Few would deny that Counter-Strike's age of dominance has, much like Manchester United's odorous grip on the footballing leagues, become somewhat shakier of late. The rise of the clans has alienated the casual gamer and here in the ZONE emporium we're all feeling as though we're just going through the motions.
CS has evolved as far as it can, at least until Condition Zero is released. Games such as Battlefield 1942, Medal of Honor, Operation Flashpoint and Unreal II are winning audiences left, right and centre, so why shouldn't the time be right for someone to take on the king?
World In Motion
New World Order's set-up is practically identical to CS's, Terrorists (The Syndicate) Vs CTs (The Global Assault Team) engaged in bomb planting, hostage rescuing, VIP escorting or outright annihilation. New twists come in the shape of a story-based single-player mode, a very playable co-op multiplayer mode and an engine that's been developed from scratch.
Basically, what you have is a dynamic visibility analysis set-up, which for laymen in the audience means if you can't sees it, it doesn't draw it. The game only renders that which is visible, rather than wasting processing power on hidden objects, with every pixel subject to real-time lighting, shadowing, bumpmapping, specular highlighting and so on and so on into a world where words no longer have any meaning to anyone below genius levels of IQ.
All you need to know is that it looks fantastic, but at a price. Your PC is going to have to work harder than an East End sweatshop immigrant if you even want to get NWO running in the first place. Speeds of less than 1GHz, RAM below 512Mb and 3D cards anywhere less than GeForce 3 capacity and you might as well be hitting the box with a stick for all the fun you'll get from it. You'll have to be ADSL'ed up too, as the netcode is such that a mere 56Kbps simply won't be fast enough.
Ruined In A Day
What strikes you most is the impression that NWO's developers set out while CS was in its earlier, less playable condition and have since neglected to pay attention both to how CS has managed to continually evolve with each update and to what a plethora of other shooters have since brought to the table.
Basic gameplay issues abound, such as dead players' text being readable by players still running around, inability to lean around corners, spectator modes which are almost rage laughably pointless, hostage pathfinding being practically non-existent, problems jumping if you're on anything other than flat ground, invisible barriers where level maps aren't quite constructed properly, horrendous lag and failing netcode.
The Al also needs some extensive tweaking. Aside from the aforementioned hostages who have all the intelligence of a Premiership footballer (and significantly less ability to run straight), the enemies exhibit signs of extreme schizophrenia, ranging from summoning reinforcements, setting ambushes, running away to try and flank you from behind and running in small circles on the spot when you're less than five feet away and ignoring a colleague that's just dropped dead at their feet.
Plan Of Action
They also have the ability to shoot out your iris from more a mile away with little more than a paperclip and a rubber band. And single-player is possibly one of the hardest gaming experiences I've ever had. If NWO is to make the kind of impact that beneath it all it actually deserves to, it's going to need three things. First is extensive post-release support and refinement from the developers. Remember, Counter-Strike was only really playable from about version 1.3 onwards. All of the above issues, all the feedback from the gamers, all the usual sources of constructive criticism should be listened to rather than ignored.
Secondly, it's going to have to open itself up to the mod community pretty sharpish. CS only flourished thanks to the extensive amateur development community that sprung up around it. New maps, skins, weapons and the like are the stuff of life for online shooters, and without them you might as well be pissing in the wind.
Finally it needs you. Now that may sound more obvious than a plot twist in a Jeffrey Archer novel, but it bears mentioning partly to provide you with a puffed up sense of your own importance, but mainly because all too often games such as this are roundly dismissed by the hardcore crowd before they've had a chance to fully bloom. When NWO plays well, it plays very well indeed. As with any newborn baby, we're just going to have to bear with it while it goes through a difficult infancy stage.
No More Magic Pockets
One of the more subtle differences between NWO and Counter-Strike is the way you acquire guns. CS makes you pay for them, here you have to select based on a weight and ranking system. 1 Where it most makes a difference is during the game. Unlike CS in which you can pick up any gun lying around and add it to your arsenal, if you see a desirable weapon on the floor, but it I takes you over your weight limit, you'll have to drop something I else to compensate. With ammo also adding to the weight on t your back, the whole game has a slightly more tactical slant I than its main rival.