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REVIEW: NEOTOKYO

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If Blade Runner was set in Tokyo in the far future, it would probably look like this. The mod is created by Studio RADI-8, a modification team. An inspired mix of Ghost in the Shell and Akira fused with Counter Strike, the game is a modification of the Half Life engine that was originally released in 2009. It was Greenlit on Steam in 2012 and released only recently on July 4th, 2014. The game is free to play and follows a group of two warrior political factions in a struggle for control of an economically distraught Japan. The story is paper thin but what the game really boils down to is the multiplayer aspect.

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(Although the servers are low, they’ll probably pick up as soon as more updates are added.)

According to Wikipedia, the story is as follows: NEOTOKYO° is set in Tokyo, approximately 30 years in the future. After the failure of a proposal to alter the Japanese constitution to allow foreign deployment of Japanese soldiers, a military coup d’état is attempted by extreme nationalist factions in the JSDF. In response, the Prime Minister of Japan pools former military intelligence operatives and police officers into a sub-group of the Interior Ministry’s National Security Force (NSF), called Group Six, to seek out subsequent coup plotters and uphold the law in both domestic and international soil. Immediately, rumours surface that an unknown faction in the JGSDF’s special forces unit “Jinrai” is preparing for another coup attempt against the government. According to the information, the said members of this group are from Special Operations Group 43, fierce ultranationalists determined to succeed with the coup once more. The ensuing strife between these two factions sets the backdrop for the game.

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(Most characters have something covering their eyes. The future must have really bad eye care or maybe they’re all using Google Glass…?)

There are two factions in the game that you can freely choose from when entering a server. There’s the JINRAI and the NSF. Other than pure cosmetic looks, there’s nothing very different about the two factions. Hell, even the weapons are the same. There are three different types of classes: Recon, Assault and Support. Recon is quick, equipped with a cloaking ability, sidearm, knife and detpack. There are very limited weapons that the Recon class can use however, which is only the first six. They also have very limited armor which makes them easier to kill, much like the Scout class in Team Fortress 2. Next up is the Assault class. Hefting more armor, limited sprint and more weapon choices, the Assault class is meant to take out enemies with precision. Armed with a sidearm, grenades and a knife, running isn’t your first priority. Lastly is the Support class. Slow but heavily armored, these guys are hard to kill. I’ve unloaded an entire clip into one as the Recon class. It did nothing. The Support class is armed with a shotgun and has every weapon available to them at the highest rank. You also have thermal vision but lack the ability to sprint or cloak unlike the other two classes. After playing all three classes, I favor the Recon class the most. I like running around, gunning down enemies ahead of the pack. The Recon class has this neat jump ability that allows you to spring forward. You can only do this so many times however.

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The stats of the weapons aren’t talked about in detail but like any shooter, silenced weapons give you a quieter kill while risking accuracy and damage. Unsilenced weapons give you more damage and increased accuracy at the cost of having your position given away. SMGs, automatic rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns make a total of 12 weapons available. As you play through each match, you are at a low rank designated Private. As you progress through each match killing enemies and doing objectives, you rise in rank eventually culminating in the Sergeant rank. Ranks mean absolutely nothing in this game except for the fact that you can get all the weapons of each class.

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(We were a pretty good team. Oh yeah, there’s also teamkilling…)

NEOTOKYO is heavily focused on teamwork. Although not heavily implied, this is no Counter Strike or Call of Duty. It feels tactical to play this game, relying on your team to complete objectives. There are currently only two game modes available: Team Deathmatch and Capture the Ghost. Capture the Ghost is a spin on the CTF gamemodes that populate other shooters. Like Counter Strike, there are no respawns after you die in a round. The Ghost is placed in the center of the map. Each team must reach the Ghost before the other does, capture it and bring it back to designated areas for extraction. When you pick up the Ghost, you lose you primary weapon and are only left with your sidearm, knife and grenades. Upon holding the Ghost, she will speak random lines of dialogue to you in Japanese. The good thing about holding the Ghost is that nearby enemies will be revealed to you. The Ghost transmits the heat signatures of nearby baddies as you walk around the map. Putting her away will make the enemy locations disappear. Each class has its pros and cons of taking the Ghost. My strategy is to take the Ghost and just run as the Recon class. There are two ways to win a match in CTG, capture the Ghost or kill the entire opposing team. Most people are interested in the latter.

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(The “Ghost.” Makes you wonder where the rest of her went…)

Most servers on NEOTOKYO feature this gamemode. Rarely did I play on a server that had TDM. CTG is fun. It’s quick and refreshing compared to other types of CTF. Most people on the servers, however, would rather eliminate the other team rather than doing the objective. I must admit though, completing the objective starts to feel stale after a while. It feels more rewarding to eliminate the entire opposing team than to play the objective.

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(An old house from the level Isolation.)

Let’s talk about maps for a second. Each map is wonderfully detailed and populated with props that make me become immersed in the cyberpunk world. Maps range from urban cities to countryside derelicts. There are some instances where the textures are lacking but frames never drop during gameplay due to the versatile Source engine. Maps are relatively small. Isolation is actually the biggest map I’ve been on.

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(Faithfully recreated Suica card machines. Straight from 2044.)

Having been to Japan before, a rush of nostalgia filled my mind as I walked around each map. I especially love the urban city maps. Even some licensed stores and products are used in some props. I’ve died countless times just exploring each map just to use the freecam feature. The level of detail put into each map is astounding. Despite being on a really now dated game engine, the game still looks fantastic.

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(My decapitated body. Man, future Japan weapons are too powerful.)

Final thoughts: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve died. Friendly fire, decapitation, despite all this, I’ve had a lot of fun playing this mod. I really like the maps, Capture the Ghost and the well balanced classes. It’s one of those games I play on and off, I can’t sit down and play this for four hours straight. It’s great in short increments. Give it a shot, it’s not a game for everyone but it’s definitely worth a download. Download the mod here.

Watch the trailer, here.
Official NEOTOKYO website, here.

 

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