by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
After each mission you are awarded Character Mastery points based on your performance with your character’s weapons and special abilities. Once certain criteria are met, new characters within the same class are unlocked bringing new, varied abilities. Points also build toward the earning of Perks. One perk can then be selected at the start of each mission/round and acts as a buff or improvement for the entire match. Certain perks can be gained within a game as well.
Maps are quite large and it can often take a little while to track down the monster. Luckily, there are a number of visual and audio clues that help to locate the beast. The carcasses of dead animals and destroyed flora are obvious clues and if you get close enough to the monster's trail, tracks can be viewed, leading in the direction the creature has headed. Frightened birds also fly away from it as it nears the flock and the beasts - being huge - shake the ground when you are near enough to sense it.
Visually, the settings are often dark and menacing, giving the scenes a sense of dread, especially when playing as the Hunters. Weather effects such as rain further give Evolve a sense of doom as you wander the Dagobah-like landscape. The Monsters themselves are quite detailed, though most of the smaller details can be lost in the vivid action. The Wraith in particular - with its cloaking ability - zooms in and out of your view with reckless abandon. When playing as a Monster though, Hunters often seem like insects buzzing around ears with their jetpacks or like tiny ants ready to be trampled. The forest setting does look wonderful though, no matter which side you play. Plant life is abundant as is the local, less dangerous (compared to the huge Monsters) animal life.
Working out which tactics to employ against the various Monsters is an intriguing task. Do you split up the group of Hunters in order to find the Monster sooner, or do you Hunt as a pack so that when you do stumble across the beast, you can attack all at once? Finding a monster before it has had a chance to evolve is an advantage, but less so if you try to take it on by yourself. The same can be said for Monsters. Do you attempt to evolve as quickly as possible by feeding on carcasses and exposing yourself whilst doing so, or instead try and take out the Hunters quickly? The tactics chosen will often depend on the skills of your team mates or your opponents. It will change from game to game, ensuring that no two matches are alike.
With the large maps – required for such large beasts - the variety of classes and balanced gameplay, Evolve is a fun experience. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but playing the Monsters is heaps of fun regardless and playing as one of the Hunters alongside three others can be just as entertaining. The visuals are great, despite the fact that it is often hard to distinguish between the Hunters when playing as a Monster. A few issues with the audio stuttering during the cut-scenes aside, the great audio score does an admirable job bringing the ambiance to life, as do the well voiced characters and the sound effects. If you’re looking for something different from your run-of the mill shooters, Evolve is probably just what you are looking for.
Playing as a Monster is a change from the usual shooters. Balanced gameplay
AI bots do a reasonable job…only reasonable, though. Stuttering audio on the cut-scenes