by Chris Priestman
reviewed on PC
Hacking Is Penance
Without a doubt, the character development process and available choice is the strongest part of the game, unfortunately this is let down by the enemy A.I. as it forces the player to adopt only one playstyle. Upon entering a mission, a player will be given a few choices of how to complete the objective. These range from hacking into a console, to assassinating the head of a corporation or negotiating a truce with a certain group against your commander’s wishes. The game appears to cater to those who want to sneak about, hack their way into buildings and generally remain on the down low, but in actuality the game is heavy on the guns blazing approach. If you do want to be stealthy you will find it nigh on impossible as enemies will often spot you unfairly from half way across a level and trigger a cascade of bullets to come your way. Once it starts, it rarely stops as the enemies respawn in waves constantly. It can be quite fun and very challenging later on, but this constant barrage of enemies means that basically every level boils down to shooting your way through. The frequency of the waves can be adjusted, but this does not issue a change in tactics. The only real way of changing up the levels is by choosing a different type of gun; whether it be a sniper, a sword that can handily deflect bullets, or a minigun for instance – this will have the biggest influence on how you play the level. The problem is that the game spreads itself too thin and although there are these different ways to play each mission, they feel slightly underdeveloped in favour of an FPS-style of gameplay.
One of the best parts of the game, if you manage to get a break from the barrage of enemies, is the hacking system. Nearly everything in the game can be hacked: turrets, defence systems, robots, human infantry and ships. The accompanying hacking minigame is actually quite challenging and enjoyable, with failure on the player’s part meaning they are hacked themselves and suffer a huge smiley face flashing across their screen. It’s moments like this that the player will realise that the game is unforgiving and is not afraid to penalise them for any mistakes. This will force the player to constantly search for new ways around certain obstacles, even restoring health and reloading a gun come with their own risks. This is no doubt a hark back to the days where games required a lot of thought from many different angles, although E.Y.E. does not quite manage to pull it off. It is certainly not going to outdo the likes of its main influence, Deus Ex, apart from doing one thing that has never been achieved before.
Tell A Friend
Although E.Y.E. is a fairly adequate single player experience, it’s main attraction is the co-op functionality. Imagine a Deus Ex type of game where 2-4 players are using different tactics to infiltrate a base. One may adopt a cyber cloak and proceed to hack their way in to assassinate the guy at the top, whereas another charges in with miniguns as a distraction, with yet another player acting as a medic, and behind all of the action, a sniper silently picks off those left behind. All is possible within E.Y.E. and it feels great. Unfortunately, with E.Y.E. at its current state, it is a pain to set up a server and if you do manage that then having 4 or more players (servers with up to 16 players have been spotted) will cause a considerable amount of lag. However, the co-op experience seems to be what the developers were aiming for all along. Some of the more questionable design choices of the game that stuck out in the single player become understandable and actually functional while playing co-op. One such example would be the rather odd dream state area that is used after death and upon entering the game. In single player it just seems unnecessary, but in co-op it acts as a handy hub for players to gather in before entering the game together.
Everything that is accessible in the single-player is also available in the co-op mode. Players can go through the story missions, as well as partake in the varied side missions. You can even bring your character from single player into co-op, meaning that all the players can be various levels and specialise in different aspects, with stronger players helping out lower level players when necessary. Considering all these various available ways of playing the game in single- and multiplayer, the game has a high replayability. Character building is generally quite slow and reaching the highest levels that lie somewhere in the hundreds will take many, many dedicated hours. It is the potential playtime that really makes the game shine, even the slightly annoying respawning waves of enemies in each level is made ten times as fun with a partner or two to help fend them off and distract players from other menial tasks for hours.
Working For A Better Future
It is fair to say that E.Y.E. has a myriad of good ideas that need just a little more work for it all to come together as a well-rounded package. The main problem with the game is that the developers have all of these neat ideas that have made it into the game but have a problem giving players the info they need to use or even understand them. The truth of the matter is that the game is still fun to play and contains some great moments. Perhaps it is the willingness and effort to make what feels like an old-school, hardcore PC game that will sell the game to people. At a time when the industry apparently “moves on” by making ‘cinematic games’ full of cutscenes and photorealistic graphics, E.Y.E. is a refreshing return to the kind of games that made the industry what it is today. It is sad that the game has so many flaws as it would otherwise be an outstanding title. Fortunately, the developers are determined to make their project the game it needs to be, and are currently preparing patches based on plenty of user feedback. There is already a dedicated community behind the game and it is exciting to see what they themselves will do with the game as well. For now, it is easily one of the most fun co-op experiences to be had this year and the single player is still worth checking out despite a couple of glitches and bugs. With any luck, a few necessary patches could see E.Y.E becoming a must-buy title.
Refreshingly deep and hardcore RPG experience, stunning visual design, tons of replayability, fantastic co-op experience
Some playstyles are too underdeveloped, some bugs, not incredibly user-friendly