About a year or so back, I wrote about Modern Combat 5. I did so because I had jumped from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and never got to experience the Microsoft Store ecosystem.
I was going to do a “series” based on Windows 8-10 apps, but I got sidetracked. The other games I had installed had either gotten super grindy unless I paid, or in the case of Asphalt 8: Airborne, that they are such a daily ritual for me that I’m still grinding to get that last achievement to this day. The only other games that could be interesting to write about are too “well-known,” like the Killer Instinct reboot.
But there was one more game I had installed, and until recently, never tried. Then I tried it, and thoroughly regretted playing it.
Overkill 3 is the third installment in a modestly popular franchise originally released on mobile platforms. Co-developed by Spanish developer Game Troopers and Czech developer Craneballs – props for the goofiest developer name I’ve seen yet – Overkill 3 is a cover shooter. Unlike Modern Combat 5, there is no moving, only aiming. So it’s less a cover shooter and more a rail shooter.
There is a story but it’s so razor-thin that there’s no reason to pay attention to it. You play as John Scully, a guy with the most ridiculous protagonist hairdo I’ve seen this side of Soap MacTavish, fighting off big bads in various places. There is no principal villain, just Scully going from place to place, hiding behind cover, and shooting dudes repeatedly.
Overkill 3 hits this weird territory, and overall is tonally inconsistent. While there are humans and real guns like an AK-47, a Desert Eagle, and a Barrett .50 cal, there’s also futuristic guns, even ones like the pulse rifle from Aliens, and… stuff like this:
Yeah. A robot with a minigun. It’s like the team wasn’t sure if they wanted to stick to modern, or saw what Call of Duty was doing and thought future warfare was The In Thing, so they decided to go with both. Unfortunately this causes the style to be all over the place, some of this feeling like assets made for another game.
Each mission has Scully shooting enemies, and completing certain tasks. Some are simple: Finish the mission, complete the “slide the screen” quick time events, don’t die. Others are fairly grindy, like killing x number of enemies, or staying in a stage for a period of time. Completing challenges gets a star and some cash or medals that can be used to upgrade or buy new things.
So you probably read “buy new things” and asked, “This is a freemium game, isn’t it?” Yes. Yes it is. To get certain weapons and armor, you need to have the right amount of credits and medals. Credits can be acquired by just doing missions, but medals require either leveling up, completing specific challenges, etc. Of course, you could just buy your way to victory, but I do not encourage this because this game really doesn’t deserve any money.
There was a point where every time I started playing Overkill 3, that there was a glimmer of hope, that there might be something good. There wasn’t. As I progressed, there were missions that became so annoying and remotely unfair in spots that I must’ve tried and retried a dozen times, and that’s even when given the opportunity to revive just by watching an ad.
It doesn’t help that even while in cover, Scully was still taking damage. Sitting there, not firing, having him nag at me for not doing anything, and he would still take chip damage. At one point, I had just finished off the last enemy – a mech robot shooting rockets at cover – and took just enough damage to die, and not get the reward for finishing the level.
I could upgrade my armor, but I also hit that wall where I needed medals, and I didn’t have enough of those. I could get a better, more powerful gun, but those cost a lot of credits and require lots of grinding. I could upgrade my weapons or buy grenades or rocket raids, but eventually those cost medals too! And if I use the medals, I can’t get certain weapons or armor unless I grind or spend money to get them.
There is a reason there’s a fair share of disdain amongst people who play free-to-play games and having to either do the grind or pay their way to make progress. It’s just not fun. I was willing to put up with the paper-thin story, the wonky controls that were made for a tablet and not a common PC, I was even willing to play the endless mode to get some extra cash.
But I just got sick of it, and realized there were many other, better games I could be playing instead.
I hate leaving games unfinished, but if the goal to completion is “grind or pay up,” I abandon it without much of a second thought. Unless it’s a game I really find enjoyment in, like Asphalt 8 above, I can’t stick with it.
Now, I’m not criticizing the developers. I will always appreciate games from countries you won’t expect to have a burgeoning games industry. Hell, I wrote fair praise about Chaser a few years ago, a game by a Slovakian game development studio. It’s just not a good game. Game Troopers and Craneballs deserve a “you tried” sticker, at least.
There is one thing I do appreciate about Overkill 3, though: Sometimes Scully will ask you to do a high-five upon completing a mission. It’s so goofy that I’m always amused when it happened, no matter what.
Surprisingly both Game Troopers and Craneballs still exist. Except they moved from the flatlining mobile game market to virtual reality. And for the low low price of $20*, you can play this exact same game in Virtual Reality! WOWZERS!