Jagex are about to unleash a cross between an FPS and Minecraft called Ace of Spades, which could be a winning combination thanks to creative gameplay coupled with shooter class-based action.
Featuring multiple classes and game modes, the idea behind the game isn’t just to take down the opposing team and capture objectives, but also to get creative with the tools available to each class by building or destroying the map landscapes. It’s not so much the shooting part of the game that makes it that interesting – it’s when you start to think outside the box by utilising the creative and destructive power of the characters that Ace of Spades starts to shine.
Played over different game modes in exotic locations such as rain forests, a moon base and central London (okay, that one isn’t so exotic), the blocky world that we are all so familiar with is fully destructible. Pump a shotgun round into a block and it vanishes. Use a rocket-propelled drilling tool and you can dig deep into the blocky world creating tunnels and access points. With this power of landscape destruction, no match ever plays out quite the same.
The game features four classes and each class is armed with a shovel or axe to dig with, plus the ability to place special block shapes onto the landscapes. These are not limitless, however; you have to have enough blocks stored on your character to keep building. Need more blocks? Dig some out of the landscape and add them to your block pool, then start building.
Classes are key in Ace of Spades and, while each of the four classes carry out the same basic function of destroying and digging through the landscape, they all play quite different thanks to the arsenal of tools and weaponry at their disposal.
The Miner is a master of destruction with his drill-tipped rockets, which start to burrow through a wall or landscape as soon as they touch it. He’s also got dynamite for some nicely timed explosions, which – when used effectively – can also take out an unsuspecting enemy. And of course, no Miner would be complete without the ability to dig hard and fast, so he can also remove larger chunks of landscape at a time with his trusty shovel.
The Commando is the beefcake of the four classes. While not as fast as the others, he’s got plenty of firepower with a rocket launcher, machine gun and grenades. Then there’s the Engineer, who’s a bit of an odd chap – he can deploy turrets and do all the usual shooting stuff, but his secret weapon is the jet pack, which is incredibly useful in the ‘Capture the Hill’ game mode and is also invaluable for getting out of trouble fast.
Finally, there’s the Marksman, a sniper class with the ability to move faster and jump further than the other classes. He can also drop proximity mines for unsuspecting players to step on, usually with hilarious consequences.
Controlling your blocky little chaps is simple enough with standard shooter keys, and all your weapons, block creating and digging tools can be flicked between through the mouse wheel. One point to note is the inability to shoot while on the move (running), which can feel a little frustrating at times but it’s not a game-breaker by any means.
But it’s the creative part of Ace of Spades that makes it tactically exciting to play. As an example, yesterday some git was busy trying to pick me off, and instead of running for cover, I just created cover by slamming down a few blocks. In a later game it was all about controlling key hill points on the map, and once it was under our team’s control, it was time to get busy blocking up any access points with blocks to make it trickier for the enemy to storm us, and ultimately make it easier for our team to pick off any infiltrators. You have to think tactically.
So does it work? Is it fun? Yes on both counts. Sure, you can’t just mess about creating the next Eiffel Tower (you’d probably be dead before you’d completed the first foot) but there is usually enough time to try things out before getting blown apart. As far as fun-factor goes, it has a weird knack of keeping you playing, probably because the gameplay is quite basic and the fact that it’s reasonably fast-paced.
Ace of Spades has actually been kicking around for a while but has been given some extra spit and polish ahead of a Steam release tomorrow. It could be the perfect title to pick up and put down as your holiday season permits, giving respite from the madness of forced prolonged socializing and family bonding.
If this has piqued your interest, then be sure to check out the new video showing off the Marksman class.