Combat Arms: Line of Sight Preview
Combat Arms: Line of Sight attempts to bring the Call of Duty experience to a free-to-play PC shooter with a few tricks up its sleeve. The game is set in an alternate future with cybernetic implants and upgrades that give soldiers abilities to use on the battlefield. Ranging from a handheld bolt of fire to an exploding satellite, the powers add a cool twist to the otherwise standard combat of a modern military shooter. However, in a landscape with a genre that is nearly bursting with first-person shooters I struggle to believe that Combat Arms will carve a niche into the highly competitive field. Multiplayer-only games live and die by their communities and the game’s core mechanics are so standard that it doesn’t do anything better than other contemporary military shooters.
Two abilities can be equipped per load out, besides guns and various other supplies. Loadouts of saved weapon and ability customizations are available to be chosen during a match, three in total. The game boasts that it has a robust weapon customization system that is nearly unmatched for a game in its genre. While the customization options are decent are appreciated, considering there are games that offer far less, it is far from the best or even ideal customization options that already exist in some games.
Weapon customization essentially boils down to placing extra modifications on the barrel, top or side rails of most weapons. Magazines can also be upgraded along with ammo and grenade types and a few other additional weapon parts. Not all guns can be fully upgraded. However, pistols cannot handle as many upgrades as an assault rifle. But even then, modifications are usually either an aim-assisting laser or a flashlight to blind enemies, which I never really found a use for. Of course, there is also a merry-go-round of scopes to add to your guns and even skins that can be purchased via the in-game shops.
Currency earned through matches and player progression unlock items used for player and weapon customization. Almost immediately, I dressed my character up in pure black combat fatigues with heavy armor and gold sunglasses. It will be a free-to-play game so there ostensibly there will be another currency or system that will allow players to use real money to purchase a black top hat or the like for their soldier. Some items unlocked on a time-limited basis and I was forced to essentially rent many items and give them up or repay when the time was up. I was not the most thrilled with the idea of paying for a rifle that I could only use for 48 hours before coughing up more for it. Perhaps this system will change or be slightly altered but for now it is a big annoyance.
Combat Arms handles shooting very nicely, it does not lack in precision, in regards to movement or aiming. Recently, there has been a shift among first-person shooters of this type to accelerate player movement speed, such as in Titanfall and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Nexon’s shooter does not add any fancy movement mechanics but instead introduces the cybernetic abilities and increased chaos into the matches. A free-for-all deathmatch may quickly devolve into a chaotic mess of players calling satellites down on one another and summoning tornadoes. Or it can turn into a strategic battle over a house, which defines my favorite map. There I have good memories of defending and attacking a well-fortified house on a snow-covered level.
Bad spawning locations hinder the combat much more than they should – spawning in the middle of a pack of running enemies is both startling and occasionally advantageous. But most of the time the bad spawns result in quick deaths and sometimes even quicker deaths as I spawned literally on top on enemy soldiers multiple times.
The performance was generally acceptable, save the aforementioned moments when there was a chaotic mass of players using their abilities. Calling a satellite has an especially detrimental effect on the frame rate, particularly if you happen to survive an explosion, then you will almost certainly witness the frame rate collapse until the game recovers. Certain abilities give off a strange effect that alters the color saturation in a manner that is unpleasant to look at and occasionally makes the game seem like its breaking.
The sounds of the battlefield are very pleasurable, regardless of the occasional texture pop-in or frame drop. All of the weapons from light machine guns to sniper rifles, sound authentic and intimidating. Emptying a clip of light machine gun ammo is almost near deafening and weapons have a nice bounce and recoil. Nearby explosions have a cool effect of temporarily muting your hearing. This may be a somewhat common technique employed now, but it still makes an impact after all of the sound of gunfire disappears and reappears after an explosion.
Abilities are not necessary to survival; Often I ignored the powers and played it like a more standard online shooter. This is to the game’s favor and detriment. Those who are looking for a simpler experience may like it and those who want something slightly different from the standard fare may also find what they’re looking for in Combat Arms. Only time will tell if a community will latch onto it and give it support.