Reflecting on the fact that Gamers Association disappointingly doesn’t receive review copies of most retail releases, my Spidey Senses of excitement tingled as I read a PlayStation Blog postdescribing No Man’s Land. Although I’m not the biggest fan (or any sort of fan, really) of competitive multiplayer, a free-to-play post-apocalyptic third-person shooter sounded like something the faithful readers of GA might enjoy. Sunday provides little else to fuel dramatic gaming industry updates, so I set forth to establish some impressions.
We’ll give ‘em skulls. Gamers love skulls.
As No Man’s Land is nestled (and almost secretly so) within the PlayStation Home social experience (is that how we’re supposed to label it?), I intended to write an abbreviated review similar to our Big Fish Games Weekly Catch pieces. And while PC players are certainly swarmed with free-to-play shooter options, PlayStation Blog declares this game to be the “first-of-its-kind on a console.” With a twinkle of hope in my eyes, I entered the introductory tutorial…and it totally tore apart my optimistic attitude.
The game looks and feels as you would expect from something running on similar infrastructure to PlayStation Home. In other words, No Man’s Land is visually dated and generic. But even a determination not to let aesthetics deter my enjoyment could not save my brief stint with this thing. You’ve likely played other cover-based shooters, for sure, but how about a cover-exclusive one? As bizarre as that sounds, No Man’s Land is exactly that: cover-exclusive. Free movement is not allowed. Instead, you identify your desired direction with the left analog stick and an area suitable for cover will glow green. If the selection satisfies you, pressing X automatically moves your character to the new zone. This might have been an interesting round-table idea at one point while hunting for originality, but it’s bonkers and backwards, limiting everything you have come to expect from a game of this type. I’ll admit that maybe I could get used to it with time (and that’s a very hesitant “maybe”), but…
Run away! Oh wait, you can’t…
But I never got to play the damn game. Not really. After the short tutorial tied up, I immediately went to enter a true match…and nothing happened. I needed to hit X to indicate I was ready for battle, yet I couldn’t. Confused, I chatted with other players, pleading for help. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only helpless person having this plaguing problem.
No Man’s Land never returned from the deep end after this instance. Exiting back to the lobby brought about an endless load screen, forcing me to jump out to the XMB and open Home all over again. The failure wasn’t a fluke, though, and subsequent attempts to join a game were blocked by the same inability to indicate my readiness. After an hour, I gave up.
Shooting in a post-apocalyptic city. Again.
While I never got a shot to play with others, No Man’s Land didn’t provide promising first impressions. Besides the broken nature of a game that still belongs in beta, the rest was mediocre at best. Tutorial hit detection troubles turned my bullets into Nerf darts, and dodging grenades when glued to a wall is a frustrating impossibility. With only two game types to speak of, you are better off rebooting a busted-up PC and cranking down video settings for any number of the superior shooters on that platform. And if your commitment to consoles cannot be swayed, do something to distract yourself until Friday when the ambitious (and equally free) Dust 514 opens its beta to the public. No Man’s Land, as it stands, simply isn’t worth your time.