So, apparently quite some time passed since i wrote my last review. 3 months, 13 days, 21 hours, 37 minutes, and 45 seconds, to be precise. Thing is, i couldn't find an obscure yet good game to "expose". Luckily, this is no longer the case. I proudly present to you my latest purchase, Cortex Command.
Cortex Command is surprisingly good-looking, diverse and fun for a game that was coded by one guy and illustrated by another guy (and there are also three other guys helping, but whatever).
Remember Worms? Sure you do. Cortex Command's pixel art has the same neat retro feel to it. There are several factions - Dummies are... well, crash test dummies, Coalition is your standard military fare, Ronin have "guerilla" style, and there are also robots and zombies. Main difference from Worms is bloodiness levels - Cortex Command is a splatterfest. This game has a lot of gore, and when i say a lot, i mean METRIC FUCKTONS of it. Characters get decapitated in the most ridiculous ways, desintegrate into clouds of blood, fly across the map, you get the idea. And you know what? It's so over-the-top it's hilarious. Seeing someone getting squashed or splattered all across the level with their own cargo rocket never gets old. The music is also worth mentioning - it's pretty cool.
That's about it, actually. Cortex Command is exactly what it says on the tin - you play as a cortex (i.e. brain), and you command shit. The backstory is that many humans opted to ditch their natural bodies for longer life and interstellar travel. Supersized spacefaring society requires resources for renovation, and your "character" is one of prospectors participating in the galactic goldrush. I still fail to understand what crash test dummies have to do with this, though.
The basics seem pretty easy. There is campaign with objectives to be accomplished, and there is skirmish mode where you can play against AI assaulting your base, or against another player split-screen. In skirmish mode, the first thing you do is build a bunker for your brain. You have 5000 gold for that, and you can pick from a variety of different modules and pieces. You can also place soldiers and weapons before attack starts. What happens next is identical in campaign and skirmish modes.
The game itself plays out in real time. When you begin, you can switch between units with Q and E. Each unit is equipped with jetpack, but carrying too much stuff makes it useless. By pressing the right mouse button, you can bring up the radial menu to pick up, switch, reload, or drop weapons, set simplistic AI in one of four modes, or enter the Buy Menu. It's essentially your militarized space shopping cart, with which you can order bodies and items to be dropped from orbit. If delivery craft returns back intact, you get a refund for it. You can also pick up stuff you (or your enemy, hee hee) no longer need and lift it into orbit, thereby "selling" it.
And now comes the really tasty part: the physics engine. First, everything is destructible, and i mean EVERYTHING. You can dig out gold, bypass bunker walls, make pits to obstruct enemy's progress, or bomb the shit out of him - the choice is yours. But what's really cool about the physics are the flying vehicles. With high-end weapons, you can shoot the rocket off it's course or destroy the dropship's engine, and then the real chaos begins. Vehicles spin catastrophically, fall to the ground, and smear enemy infantry across the landscape in absolutely ludicrous, laughable ways. In Cortex Command, most of your fails will be truly epic. Once i have destroyed a dropship with a sniper rifle, only to see it's engine fly right in the face of the very same soldier who shot the thing down!
The modding scene
Cortex Command is extremely modable. With basic Lua skills you can modify any element to your liking or create entirely new ones. Meanwhile, people lacking basic Lua skills (such as myself) can pick from a wide variety of mods made by those who have aforementioned skills. Mods range from a single gun to completely new factions, from not even affecting the balance to gamebreakingly overpowered. There's a mod to suit everyone's needs, and if there isn't... well, make one yourself!
This game is very much a work in progress. There are only four campaign missions available, and development progresses at excruciatingly slow pace - for obvious reasons. Cortex Command gets pretty boring after a few hours of continuous play - it's better applied in small doses. Very significant problem is that your bodies cannot pass through eachother, this can get annoying at times. Then there are absurd levels of gore... what? It can be a drawback to someone! But on the whole, it's a very well-made game.
Recommendation: eighteen bucks is a good price for many, many hours of chaotic explodey fun you'll have with this game. There are also gore, physics, and pixelart - PLUS, Cortex Command features Rocket-Propelled Chainsaw. What else could you possibly want? Go buy it. Or, you know, get the free demo if you just want to see for yourself. Data Realms website is here.
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