Teabot eyes-on: Hedone
Two tags you don’t see sitting alongside each other too often are MMO and FPS, and when I heard about Hedone – an online shooter with nuggets of role playing sprinkled in for good measure – the first thing that sprang to mind was popping into World of Warcraft with an Uzi and mowing down levels twos in a dwarf-filled bloodbath. And with a free-to-play system also firmly in place, this may well be the world’s first F2PMMOFPS. Now there’s a mouthful.
Developer ACONY may have its fingers in a lot of pies, but Hedone is still a shooter deep down, offering players the usual ‘look down your sights and jump around until one of you falls over’ combat we’ve come to love thanks to Call of Duty. Game Director Mario Rizzo has taken his inspiration from all over the shop, throwing everything from Pulp Fiction to Gears of War into the mixing pot and pulling out a bastard child full of tongue-in-cheek characters and surprisingly well-drawn plot points. Taking place in a star-spangled future where entertainment pretty much boils down to watching a headshot-fuelled version of Big Brother, players will battle across a range of gritty locations while sexy robot cameras film every blood-splattered corner for the masses sitting at home. Think Running Man, just without lycra jumpsuits and muscle-bounded ex-governors.
Where Hedone sets itself apart from the pack is its nifty use of combat perks. Rather than ask players to build up huge kill streaks just to get a BLOODY CARE PACKAGE ala Call of Duty, the majority of these bonus items can be unlocked even if your face is being caved in with a rusty pistol at the spawn point every five seconds. Players will eventually gain access to gatling guns, flying attack bots and, my favourite, a cool dual-pistol sliding gunfight move that looks like something out of John Woo’s brain when he eats too much cheese before bedtime.
Think Running Man, just without lycra jumpsuits and muscle-bounded ex-governors
With slick and sexy gunplay taking up most of the spotlight, there’s really not much space left for the poor old MMO parts of Hedone. Other than offering a persistent character, customization options and plenty of stats to play with, the game’s marketplace is the only part that truly feels like an online game. As a free-to-play title offering players fancy extras for a price, plenty of time has been put into ensuring the game stays balanced no matter how much dosh a player decides to pump into their account. Anything in Hedone can either be unlocked or bought, but only after enough time has been spent milling about in its matches looking for a fight.
After staring at Hedone for the good part of an hour, it’s easy to forget this is actually a free-to-play title. It might not quite match up to the triple-A visuals most of us are used to, but it’s still a bloody impressive game to look at nonetheless. Games like these live or die on the accessibility of their gameplay and the balance of their purchasing structure, and Hedone looks like it’s making the right choices so far. Without the focus on role playing elements I was expecting, this is essentially a nice looking shooter with some interesting customization options, but when it can be sitting on your desktop for the princely sum of zero pounds, it’s hard to kick up too much of a fuss. And who doesn’t want to stroll into the Big Brother house with a shotgun?
Hedone will be available on PC, XBL and PSN, and is due to enter its BETA in Q3 2011