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Natural Selection 2 Review

Paul Goodman | 8 Nov 2012 16:15
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When that happens, it can be hard to tell if it's an issue with the factions not being balanced against each other or if the game is missing a few necessary tools to help you command as effectively as possible. The first person elements of the game are straightforward and easy to grasp, and fights between the two factions can really get the adrenaline pumping as you struggle to defend an outpost that's being overrun by leaping Kharaa or try to tear apart an Exosuit before it finishes riddling your hive with bullets. Taking up the reins of the RTS side of the game, however, is a daunting experience, and it's certainly not for everyone.

Natural Selection 2 does try to mitigate its sharp learning curve with a lengthy tutorial series of YouTube videos and a sandbox style game mode that gives you an empty map to play around in, but it only goes so far in preparing you for how an actual match will play out once you spawn onto the battlefield. At the very least, it really would've been nice to have access to a more in-depth and hands-on run through of how to play as a commander other than the "trial by fire" process that's in the game now, especially when the FPS parts are well-put together and the most enjoyable aspects of the game.

The role of a commander is just one part of Natural Selection 2's very high focus on using teamwork to succeed, which is where the game both shines and can fall short, depending on who you're playing with. For the most part, those who decide to play as a one-man-army will often find themselves at the mercy of a maw full of gnashing teeth or the wrong end of a shotgun, so your best chances of completing objectives or surviving a run-in with the opposing team is by sticking close to a teammate and coordinating with whoever's commanding. It's really refreshing to see a team-based game that actually needs players to work together to instead of giving out vague objective of "capture point A" or "Kill all of the opposing team" and then assuming players will work towards that objective, and there's something quite satisfying about pulling off a successful assault or ambush that you planned out cooperatively with your teammates. But achieving success does rely on your fellow players' willingness to cooperate in order to get things done, and there's no real way to get players to help each other or follow orders other than just asking. Besides a small boost to your in-game score, there's very few mechanics in place to really drive the point home that cooperation means the difference between victory over your opponent or a long, drawn out defeat.

Bottom Line: Natural Selection 2 is a fantastic-looking FPS/RTS hybrid that's an in-depth and involved experience for those who enjoy cooperative and team-based games, although it does come with a steep learning curve that'll turn some players off to the strategic side of the game.

Recommendation: Anyone interested in playing a team-based game that actually requires you to work as a team should definitely check this one out, but just know that it'll take some time to learn how everything works.

Game: Natural Selection 2
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Developer: Unknown World Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown World Entertainment
Platform(s): PC

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