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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Tactical Shooter

 

Publisher

Kuma Reality Games

 

Developer

Kuma Reality Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

May 2004

 

 

- Good concept and front end

- New content added continually

- Easy to come to grips with, control wise

 

 

- Uneven AI for both friends and foes

- Laughable physics

- More of a chore than fun

- Empty multiplayer servers

 

 

Kuma\War Official Site

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Kuma\War

Score: 5.5 /10

 

What a cool, cool concept.  Turn current military and political events into a game!  This is the framework that Kuma\War hinges on and it has the best front-end interfaces I’ve ever encountered.  It’s set-up to resemble a news site, complete with ticker tape that features real headlines that link-out to actual news sources.  To the developer’s credit, they’ve made the interface a snap to navigate and chock-a-block full of useful information for each mission (including professional-looking video clips).

 

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Also of note, is that Kuma\War isn’t available at retail – it’s completely downloaded, making broadband a necessity.  After the initial download of 300 MG for the client and all the important “Make it Go” files, you’ll be continually downloading new material.  Missions, added “as they happen” at regular intervals, are downloaded as you select missions or choose to download the video clips.  (Once you’ve downloaded it, you don’t have to do it again.)  This is the delivery model I’m sure Valve had in mind when they thought up the Steam system – a way to make more money since you’re not paying all the costs associated with getting a product to the retail shelf.  Kuma\War has a 7-day free period then afterwards it’s $10US per month to keep playing.  It’s getting players to stay after the first 30 days that’s the trick because… well, for a number reasons.

 

But lets explore what Kuma\War is about.

 

Quickly: Kuma\War renders down to controlling a squad of soldiers (on foot or in a vehicle) through hostile territory to accomplish various objectives.  The experience falls flat, particularly after the front end interface raises expectations.

 

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Many of the early complaints that plagued Kuma\War – the list was long and included being able to crawl as fast as you could run, AI that liked being shot rather than dive for cover, and so on – seem to have been addressed to some extent.  There are still a lot of AI problems, both friendly and hostile.  If you’re not constantly jumping into the boots of your squad members (up to four) to keep everyone together, they’ll often wander off or just stop.  There’s nothing more 

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disconcerting when you turn around to find your teammates  are MIA.  On the other side of this is your squads propensity to open up on any enemy they even glimpse, unloading ammo like Rambo.  You can issue short commands (shoot my target, etc.) but it's just easier to take control yourself.  It becomes less about tactical and strategic movements and more about herding cats.  Hostile AI swings from superhuman to “Hey, a tank is running me over!”  At times, there is actually a sense of tension, but it’s all too often shattered or replaced with frustration.  Where’s the fun?

 

While I’ve never put a whole heap of focus on graphics, Kuma\War actually manages to distract with its graphics.  They aren’t pretty and appear more than few years old – think about the original Counter-Strike – and at times I mistook building features for enemy snipers.

 

With the low-end graphics you’d think that multiplayer would be great, running smoothly etc.  I don’t know, maybe multiplayer is great but do you think I could find an active server?  As Kuma\War suffered from universally mediocre reviews (at best) and a very limited amount of advertising, there just isn’t that many people playing.  (I get my Internet connection working again and I get no good gaming!)

 

Kuma\War has a great idea and some great innovations, especially the front end interface, but it needs to pack some better gameplay into the package if it has any hope of catching on with a broad or even a niche market.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(August 1, 2004)

 

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