This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 70 June 2019.
In Bioware we… used to trust. The kings of the digital roleplaying game (RPG) in recent times have slowly stopped producing the kind of games gamers want. And while Anthem is – in many ways – a RPG it’s not the kind of RPG anyone would expect.
However, it’s also a game of so much promise. Players step into the role of a Freelancer in this third-person open-world game. Set in (what I can only assume is) the future on a planet that is not Earth. The real heroes of the game are the customizable exosuits called Javelins. Without them, your Freelancer is but a mere mortal. With the Javelin, you are an almost unstoppable war machine. Well, unstoppable until the glitches and bugs derail things.
The Javelins come in four flavours to suit your gameplay style, but given the game wants to force you into the co-op experience, you may feel like choosing a Javelin that compliments the team. Thankfully, you can go solo, but it is a solo experience that has to be played online.
From your social hub in the city, you are tasked with… tasks. Or more accurately, chores, because some missions really feel like that. They’re repetitive and sometimes leave you wondering why they even exist. Sure, they’re there to help you level up and become a better fighting machine, but it would be great if they felt like they were really driving the story along.
The enemies are equally repetitive other-worldly creatures and enemy factions. On the other hand, some of the boss enemy battles can be thrilling and challenging, but those feel few and far between.
However, Anthem feels more like the Mass Effect co-op elements that featured waves of enemies to kill. It should actually have felt like another great space opera the main campaigns of Mass Effect managed. Anthem features a disjointed story with uninspiring loot, which is not overly improved in the game’s endgame.
The infuriating thing with Anthem is that the game is very pretty and has so much promise. Things are not helped by long loading times. The characters you meet are engaging and well voice-acted. The control of the Javelins and the gunplay is fluid, and some of your combos and abilities pack a satisfying punch.
And have I mentioned that the Javelins are great? I have? Well it’s worth stating again, because they are, and they are one of the key features of the game. Whether you want to go the heavy armour route, the balanced route or either of the other two options, they all feel different when moving and flying. In the end, you will grind away to keep the upgrades coming.
It really is frustrating to think that there is very good game under it all. It probably just needs time to mature. A little like a third-person Destiny or The Division in space (with exosuits) – they both had rocky starts but blossomed into classics. So maybe put your trust back in Bioware and stick around for the long haul.
Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Distributed in SA by: Prima Interactive