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At its core, Ace of Spades is an extremely simplistic game. The brainchild of Ben Aksoy, AoS takes Ken Silverman’s popular Voxlap-based Minecraft and remakes it as a 32 player first-person shooter, utilizing the blocky graphics system to build fortifications, tunnels, bridges and anything else you can think of; the only ultimate objective is to secure a briefcase from the opposing team’s base and return it to your own. If you want to build a bridge across the skies to their base, go for it. If you want to tunnel beneath and emerge in the lion’s den, have fun. From these basic beginnings, entire kingdoms can be built and defended.
Okay, maybe I exaggerated a little. Okay, a lot. Still, Ace of Spades is remarkably easy to get into, with a free client available at www.ace-spades.com that utilizes your browser to join games and interact with the game world. Terrain in each game is customized to that server, so some may be simple flat landscapes that encourage players to develop the land to their satisfaction, and others may come with prefabricated valleys, mountains and tunnels. Players have a choice of joining either a Green or Blue team and then come together in a clash of rifles and grenades, both of which damage the environment as well as player health. This isn’t the primary means of terraforming, however, as each player is issued a spade for general terrain destruction, a pickaxe that requisitions terrain for use as construction material as well as construction blocks that can be placed against any surface in a variety of colors.
Rifles can be zoomed with a simple iron sight image superimposed on the screen to assist in long distance aiming. It is perfectly possible to build a tall tower with stairs to the top from where you may snipe your enemies like a displeased fist of god. Of course, due to the rudimentary physics system, blocks do not float and indeed require some form of anchor with the ground, be it horizontal or vertical. If an enemy gets too close and hacks away at the base of said tower, it would collapse and send the inhabitants to their death. As you can see, creative solutions are completely possible in this land of Lego.
Ace of Spades is all about the blocks, and if you can get over the lack of graphics, it can be a very interesting and creative experience. Teams can coordinate and develop fortification strategies over voice chat or other means; focused fire and teamwork can make a big difference if taken seriously. At this point AoS is only a beta, with room for improvements and new additions, but at this point it is perfectly playable on a Windows-based machine and is a boon to those with older machines that still want a decent multiplayer FPS with a serious amount of innovation. Ben Aksoy has done well with this 2011 offering. Try it out.