Back in 2002, a company named Ageia surfaced, bringing into the PC industry avant-garde hardware designed to offload physics calculations from the CPU. The hardware, a dedicated physics card (much like a separate sound card, only this one calculated physics, not audio) didn’t do so well, considering that enhanced physics didn’t produce game altering changes back in the early part of the decade. In 2008, Nvidia acquired Ageia, fusing the innovative physics technology with their video cards. Ageia might not have survived the decade, but their legacy, the hardware and the middleware PhysX, continues to live on in several games.
One of these is Warmonger: Downtown Destruction, a game developed by NetDevil. Now released as a downloadable free PC FPS game, Warmonger was made to fully integrate physics-related gimmicks into its multiplayer-centric gameplay. I couldn’t find any information on how Warmonger found its way into Nvidia’s downloadable Graphics Plus Power Packs but the free PC FPS multiplayer shooter now acts as the flagship of the bunch of freebies, giving players the whole nine yards of what it feels like to have a physics-intensive game.
The full review, gameplay videos, and the download link after the jump.
In fact, the downloadable full version shooter does this so well that I feel the developers focused on this too much and ignored the other gameplay aspects. The game's features are so sparse: there are only two gameplay modes, Team Deathmatch and Capture and Hold, two modes that are so simple they don’t even need explanation.
What the free multiplayer FPS was designed to do however, it delivers in spades. The game is riddled with elements that flagrantly announce it to be a PhysX game. You turn a corner, a banner blocks your way, undulating and flapping in the breeze. You brush it aside and find yourself in an open area, cinders floating past you in a realistic manner as you run towards the sound of a firefight. You arrive at the scene and hastily take cover behind a concrete barrier as a hostile opens up with his chaingun. The concrete cover you ran from breaks apart in chunks. You take a bead, alt-fire, and launch a grenade. The thing sticks on the chaingunner. He runs towards you, in a desperate attempt to take you with him but blows apart several feet away, chunks of meat flying in all directions. These little things thoroughly immerse you in the urban-themed arenas of this free PC first-person shooter.
The game’s audio too, which by the way, supports surround sound systems, is impressive; the weapons are a joy to shoot.
There are only three weapons in the game: the aforementioned assault rifle that can also launch grenades, a rocket launcher, and a chaingun that has the mother of all recoils. The chaingun requires you to activate a force field that stabilizes the thing. Encased in a force field, a player is all but invincible to all attacks except rockets and grenades. The catch though is that the force field takes about two seconds to fully come up, making the weapon a support armament; the assault rifle, with its accuracy and no-frills approach, is simply better. The rocket launcher? Without tanks and other heavies in this FPS game, this weapon is next to useless. I don’t even know why it’s in the game except to blow up barriers and show off the Unreal 3 engine’s PhysX capabilities.
Yes, it is powered by the Unreal 3 engine.
As such, it is easily one of the most gorgeous free PC multiplayer shooters. Everything in the game screams modernity. Physics doodads aside, the shaders of the game are impressive. Textures are convincing, shadows play around walls, the lighting---coupled with the game’s art design---really delivers.
Despite its technological prowess however, Warmonger is a failure in two fronts. One of these (the other being its anemic gameplay features) is its multiplayer aspect. There is no one playing. There are mediocre freeware games out there that have robust player bases but not this one. This can be attributed to the fact that the game forces players to utilize GameSpy’s Comrade matchmaking system to find online matches online. Either that, or you have to know the IP address of the server you want to join and type it in the field the game provides when you click on the “Join Server” choice. Now there is NOTHING wrong with Comrade, but the designers’ choice not to implement a native matchmaking system really pulls this free PC game down.
The above problem kills this multiplayer-centric PC game. Warmonger: Downtown Destruction is one awe-inspiring game for people who haven’t seen PhysX and the Unreal 3 engine in action before. Its audio is impressive, the graphics are immersive---the whole package really paints a dystopian place where mercenaries in combat gear duke it out--- but without a player base to speak of, this game gets relegated to being just a tech demo of Ageia’s legacy.
If you haven’t seen PhysX effects, download this full version free FPS multiplayer shooter, play it, and get a taste of the merged power of the Unreal 3 engine and PhysX. You can get several of your friends to play it in a LAN party, but they might refuse; with the myriad freeware PC FPS games out there that offer more in terms of gameplay, Warmonger is a hard sell.
System requirements from the Warmonger: Operation Downtown Destruction page:
2.13 GHz dual core processor with 2 MB L2 Cache
2 GB RAM
1.8 GB hard disk space
Nvidia 7900 graphics card or equivalent
PhysX capable hardware, i.e. Nvidia GeForce 8 series or better or Nvidia 100 series
Windows XP/Windows Vista
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