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Over the past few years, Blizzard has really started to kick up their game production. From Diablo III and Starcraft II up to Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, the gaming giant has really been pumping them out. Now, Overwatch has become Blizzard’s latest and greatest release, and it’s the first new IP Blizzard has created in a long time.
Overwatch is a new first-person-shooter that focuses heavily on objectives rather than racking up the kill-death ratio. The game consists of matches between two teams of six players. Usually, one team is the defending team while the other is the attacking team, where the attacking team must capture a zone or two or escort a vehicle to the end of the level. The defenders, of course, focus on trying to stop the attackers from completing their goal.
In this way, Overwatch is by and large almost an exact clone of the super-popular Team Fortress 2. Overwatch is very similar to its Valve counterpart, with the main difference being the larger cast of characters and its lack of hats.
Overwatch boasts a fairly large assortment of unique yet also archetypical characters. There are stereotypical characters, such as McRee the cowboy, the samurai, the fat American, and Reinhardt hammer-toting giant knight with a Euorpean accent. There are some slightly more unique characters like Mei, the Eskimo girl with an Asian accent, the scientific gorilla Winston, a robot monk, and a guy ripped straight out of Warframe. So, yeah, the characters aren’t exactly original, but the voice work and special abilities that some of them have do help to breathe some fresh life into them.
There is a nice variety of different maps available, and each map seems to have one or two different game type to go with it. There are only three different game types overall, though. There is a king-of-the-hill mode, a payload mode (very similar to that of Team Fortress 2), and a mode where the attacking team has to capture two base points from the defending team. Some maps combine two modes into one, but that is about it.
The maps themselves can be a little frustrating to maneuver around, especially if you are not one of the characters that can dash past large gaps or climb walls. In spite of nearly every map taking place in a city, they all consist of a set path or two between the two spawn locations, with a few other paths available for different characters (characters like Genji or Hanzo, for example, can climb up walls to pass through windows or reach high ledges). The paths also tend to wind and cut off unexpectedly via closed doors, which can be highly disorienting for new players.
Graphically, Overwatch is very Blizzard-y. It’s not as overtly goofy as World of Warcraft tends to be – I mean really, have you seen those forearms? But it is still very cartoony with a careful attention to the fidelity of the human (or primate) form. The maps look nicely detailed too, and the game’s graphics make you feel like you’re taking a vacation to all these different real-world locales, provided you get a moment of not getting blown to bits.
Most importantly, Overwatch’s graphics are clear, and they keep everything visible in a way that makes it easy to understand what’s going on. There are a few things it could do better in terms of clarity, such as a minimap or even a toggle-able full-sized map, but at least when something is about to blow up in your face, you should be able to notice it ahead of time.
The musical score is unfortunately limited. You get a nice greeting to the game and to each stage by the main screen theme and a song for each stage, but when the game gets going, the music fades away to the quiet ambiance of gunshots and screams. When the music does roll, it really pumps you up, but it comes around quite scarcely. Always keep a Lucio nearby.
Overwatch seems to try to make up for its lack of music with its voice acting, but so many of the voices are just stereotypical accents from all over the world. The voice acting itself is fine, but after hearing a British accent, a French accent, a German accent, a Russian accent, a cowboy accent, a few Asian accents, and so on, it starts to feel like those accents are what define each character.
The game itself is very addictive. The matches only tend to last 2-10 minutes, making each bite-sized game feel like an enticing appetizer for the next. However, Overwatch also lacks quite a bit in terms of overall quantity of gameplay options. It cycles randomly through only three game types, and you do not even get a chance to choose which ones. It’s so easy to get carries away and spend hours at a time on this game, but when you step back, you start to realize that there really isn’t a whole lot to keep you coming back. For that reason, I find it extremely difficult to recommend it at its $60 price tag. It has the polish of a full-priced game, but the content is that of a game that would normally be hard to pay more than $30 for.