Ready to Evolve?

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Close your eyes and listen. Actually no, don’t close your eyes. That would be bad. Pretend to close your eyes (keep reading) and listen. Can you hear it? Can you hear that low murmuring whimper? Do you hear that reverberating howl echoing as if all the voices of the world suddenly cried out all at once? That’s no disturbance in the force, my friend. Oh no. That is the sound a million gamers welling with anguish as they wake up and realize they have do like real life things and stuff. It is the sound of tears collecting in tiny puddles behind school and work desks as they feverishly tally the hours between now and their next fix. It’s the sound of the utmost longing — but to 2K it sounds quite a bit sweeter, and not unlike the sound of money pouring from the sky.

Yes, the official release of Evolve is finally upon us. And as we are forced to sober up, reemerge into society, and try to remember what even matters anymore (like writing a game review), let us now pause to reflect, remember, and recap 2K’s newest release.

First Impressions

Evolve starts you off with a handy tutorial where you are given the crash course basics of playing as a monster. If you’re mother raised a saint, like mine did, this might be jarring at first. (It’s just not in my nature to pounce and smash space fauna.) Soon, however, all inhibitions wash away and you find yourself leap smashing every poor endangered species in a 3 mile radius. Just when your evil God complex reaches world dominating aspirations, the tutorial shifts and you’re a human again — a big Russian guy with a big gun not named “Sasha.” You shoot some things, jump some rocks, and fight some AI. You get a nice introduction to the Evolve world, the basics of Monster play, and the 4 tools of combat. The tutorial gets the job done then it ends, and may or may not seem underwhelming. Now it’s time for multiplayer.
You pick your class and suddenly things get real. Enter a dynamic cutscene. You’re a thousand feet up on an Alien world. The metal ship beneath your feet rattles with creaks of turbulence. To your left and right, old friends exchange nervous words. Another bump, and the camera leans you forward. Pistons churn. Gears spin. The cargo bay doors at your feet grind open. An alien planet whirls beneath you. Then it hits you. You’re about to jump.

With control of the camera you’re free falling down into a hostile alien jungle. Somewhere in the thicket a very large and dangerous monster is hiding and hunting. You begin to feel the adrenaline. You touch down on the planet’s surface. Foliage, wildlife, industrial ruins surround you as far as the eye can see. You realize now you have to search this unbelievably large jungle. Suddenly your digital space feet feel tired.

Fast forward an hour later and you’re some hybrid mix of Bear Grylls and Darryl Dixon. With a dirt smudged face you say strange phrases like Albino upgrade, tranq’d, and “OMG help I’m being eaten by a plant.” You’re reading maps guessing which way the creature might have gone. You’re chasing behind an alien blood hound, sniffing out tracks and calling stray bird movement to your team. You’re setting traps in bushes and noting the change of weather patterns. You are a monster hunter now. You’ve always been a monster hunter, and nothing else matters. Then, it happens. Monster. Contact. Trapped. You’re in the fight of your life. 4 friends and 1 giant badass. It’s the moment of truth . . . and more fun playing a video game then you’ve had in a very long time. I know what you’re thinking. “Fun? Just how much fun? I have social obligations to uphold . . .”Don’t worry, Evolve has you covered. With an average round lasting 9.91 minutes, you’ll have plenty of time to get your game on in between . . . getting your game on. Good luck with that, however, as playing just one round is a bit like eating one pistachio: you go in for just a taste and then your girlfriend finds you 3 days later sitting bearded and kinglike atop rubble of salty corpses.

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Looking Forward

The brilliance of Evolve is making each playable class unique, necessary, fun, and in no way subservient to other classes. Unlike the Medic in Team Fortress 2, medics in Evolve can choose to heal or fight — and how and when they decide will greatly impact their team’s success. Healing isn’t just following. Medics can paint targets, and open wounds on the monster that serve as damage amplifiers for the team. How a player chooses to micromanage these abilities tremendously influences each encounter with the monster. Additionally, there are several characters per class distinction, catering to a wide range play-styles and potential strategies. Heal beams not your thing? How about bringing people back from the dead instead?

This sort of diversity exists across all 4 of the class categories, with no character within a class set being definitively better than another. Each has something desirable they can offer the hunters. With 4 total class roles (Assault, Medic, Trapper, Support) and 3 unique characters for each class (more on the way) there is a healthy permutation of potential lineups and strategies. Factor on top of that the ability picking system, the seemingly endless maps, and the choice of Monster picked (currently 3 with 5 planned); and your guaranteeing a unique and engaging experience, every time you load the game. Not only does this make Evolve immensely replayable, it gives it that rare yet essential “meta” quality every great multiplayer game needs. Say it with me, game devs. “Meta . . . Game.”

Evolve has it. That means greater fun, greater lifespan, and — I’m willing to bet — an eventual competitive community. In fact while I’m no betting man at heart, for EZ skinerinos I’d go all in with AWP|Asiimovs on there being a relatively healthy competitive scene by year’s end. It’s not going to be the next Counter Strike. But with the level of team-work required, and the unique look and feel of the game, if 2K stays on top of things with the level of support they’ve already boasted, there is no reason why you won’t tune into Twitch one day and find 2 guys yelling into their microphones to tell you all about the hype of so and so’s Hunters vs. so and so’s best Monster.

I mean, if they played L4D competitively (and oh yes they did), then this is a shoe in.

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Final Thoughts

The only thing at this point that should really be holding you back from buying the game is the big green dollar sign shaped elephant in the room —the pricing. One sympathizes. Normally, as a writer, if you wanted to take 60 hard earned American dollars from me, you’d need to pry it from my cold dead fingers (just think of the Ramen we could buy)! However, Evolve truly is a game worth it if you can spare it. If you enjoy doing things like having fun, you owe it to yourself to pick up the game, grab a few buddies, and have the time of your life. If, it turns out, you don’t enjoy having fun or you don’t have any buddies, well . . . I guess that explains how you made it to the end of this article.

Now if you would excuse me, my word count has tapped into submission. One beast slain, another awaits. Are you ready for the most badass game of hide and seek you’ve ever played? Ready or not .

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by justinmdanford, on February 12, 2015