A fresh but flawed take on a tired formula
Splitgate: Arena Warfare (Microsoft Windows): 7/10
In just the first thirty minutes of playing Splitgate: Arena Warfare, the clever game's unfortunate and damning lack of staying power became immediately obvious. For all of Splitgate's twitchy, tactical and portal-gun powered arena battling, the game's curious reluctance to allow player's to play maps until they have reached an arbitrary level has hamstrung it to the point where downward-spiralling server populations have left this arena shooter near dead-on-arrival.
Which is a shame, truly, as Splitgate's novel concept allows for some blisteringly fast-paced battles and empowering strokes of tactical nous that feature on a much grander scale than in your typical arena shooter. Ripping entire chapters of influence from a large variety of platforming and shooting games, no two such games stick out so much as what are unquestionably Splitgate's primary influences - Halo and Portal. Halo provides the brawn in the weapon selection, while Portal provides the brains with the admittedly genius inclusion of the now-infamous portal gun.
Each round in Splitgate consists of two teams of four facing off against each other in any one of three now-ubiquitous game modes - Domination, Team Deathmatch or King of the Hill. Where things get interesting is in the inclusion of portal guns in the melee.
The portal gun allows you to place two portals on a certain surface type that is generously strewn across each map. Not only can you hop through these portals in order to conspire various aerial and acrobatic ambushes. but you can also shoot through the portals, often catching unaware enemies from confusing angles. The most fun element of the portal mechanic comes when you get into the flow of things and begin outmanouvering enemies through sheer tactical awareness, a skill that can often make up for a poor aim.
Splitgate is a rather tepid and uninspired arena shooter that is elevated to a somewhat higher plane by the inclusion of the fabulous portal gun mechanic. Unfortunately, the weird pacing and manifestation of maps once you reach certain levels has knocked the progression and replayability greatly askew. It is just so difficult to maintain interest in the game when some of the earlier maps are either extremely dull, or genuinely brilliant - but only in certain game modes. A recommendation for any fans of Unreal Tournament, Quake and such, who may be looking for a fresh but flawed take on a tired formula.