Triad Wars First Impressions
TBD Overall Score
Massively entertaining, action based combat, great graphics, plenty of laughs
Bad camera angles which makes controlling your character difficult, server disconnects, lack of multiplayer content
So we got our hands on the closed beta of Triad Wars from United Front Games /Square-Enix, creators of Sleeping Dogs where players take on the identify of an undercover cop infiltrating the Hong Kong Sun On Yee Triad organisation. In comparison players in Triad Wars aren’t the good guys posing as bad guys, they are actually gang members trying to form their own criminal cartel and screwing over their competition in the process.
The game is an action sandbox where players can explore huge open city areas, beat on and kill innocent pedestrians, steal cars and all that good stuff; as a solo experience it actually plays like a single player title. The main premise is to build up your own Triad in competition with other players, accruing resources, outfitting your gang and training up your own Enforcer character for when you go taking on the enemy face-to-face.
The Enforcer portion of the game is where the action is and is a more active style of gameplay, players control their character and in the open world can open a map to find other rival players territory and attack it in a Raid. In a Raid players enter a rival players territory and must fight their way through the NPC gang members that are defending it, players have the option of taking out the various rackets that their target has built, meaning more money and resources to be looted, but players also have a finite amount of time in an enemy’s territory to get what they can and get away before the police arrived.
The main objective is to find their way into the safe house and beat the enemy Enforcer that controls it, an NPC built with the same abilities and talents that the player who controls it normally has. To give yourself more time in a player’s territory players can first target two Operations prior to the Raid, the small mini missions have you chasing down your targets NPC gang members and disturbing their business with randomly generated quests (presumably these quests are on rotation and completely random and not based on the actual player targets businesses or choices, at least from what we saw). The idea is that you are doing enough to attract the attention of the police to these Operations giving you more time to keep them away from the actual Raid.
The Raids aren’t too difficult when starting out, the NPC guards are relatively easy to kill and the AI Enforcer whilst having the same skills as its player doesn’t have the same reflex reactions and is still ultimately AI scripts versus Player. The combat itself is pretty exciting, with combo building, stuns and grapples the most interesting element is how players are able to interact with the environment when they have hold of an enemy, everything from throwing them into garbage dumps, cracking their heads into windows, body slamming them onto crates, smashing their heads through speakers in a radio shack, and even doing some pretty bad ass back breaking moves. The abilities a player has, their strength, speed and a variety of other stats and skills are based on the points that players spend as they level up to actively make their Enforcer stronger (and ultimately their NPC version that will defend their territory safe house).
Points can also be spent on improving your Gang, the NPC’s that will protect your assets, territory and safe house from other rival players attacks. This is a more passive element of the game that the player gets to manage but aren’t really actively involved in during an attack, instead it being the AI defences based around your own choices. As well as upgrading your gang members players also get to build rackets to bring in money, whether gambling dens, money-laundering, dealing stolen goods or other criminal activities. These rackets can also be individually upgraded to bring in more money; players are restricted by the level of the safe house as to how high they can improve their businesses. Players need to find a balance between having good defences with their Gang, building Rackets and training up their Enforcer to ensure that they can take out rivals, which will in turn give them extra resources.
So that is the general gist of the game, but what was our impression? Well the moment we rammed a guy’s face into a table saw at a construction site and killed him during the tutorial we were pretty excited. The combat is pretty swift and action packed, dodging blows, rolling over objects and leaping barriers during chases and even getting our hands on a machine gun as we ploughed through an enemy turf. One of the most exciting parts was also in the tutorial, and the type of mission that reoccurs during Operations, where we were being driven by another NPC and we had rival gang members chasing us in vans and on motorbikes shooting at us whilst we were hanging out of the window shooting back, blowing out wheels and sending cars into huge flips. It was extremely cinematic and very epic.
The open sandbox environment is pretty fun, but from what we can tell serves more purpose of being a more interesting way of getting from A to B if you don’t have a mission/Operation. In one Operation we picked up we had to get to the rival gang member’s location before some business went down, putting us on a timer, so putting a pedal to the floor we went flying out into the street and managed to clip a cop car as it was passing. Straightaway this sent all the cops chasing after us and we had to elude them and get out of their chase zone while still trying to reach the operation objective location before the time ran out.
The cops are pretty relentless in the game and hard to shake, though this is made easier if you managed to boost a motorbike or sports car of a civilian, travelling at literal breakneck speeds, it’s pretty exciting dodging and weaving through the traffic, though we have to say that it is actually a lot harder to fall off a motorbike than it is to knock someone off one when you hit them and you seem to be able to crash into environments before being thrown off (at least it is a lot more forgiving than games like Grand Theft Auto). Finding yourself in a slow vehicle and committing a crime in front of the police is a bad idea, once you start fleeing they’re pretty quick to get reinforcements, smashing up your vehicle and at one point we ended up on foot being chased by half a dozen police into a shipyard and the only way we escaped was by diving into the water. Fortunately we found a harbour boat that we could steal and sail back to another part of the city!
If you get caught by the police you lose “Face”, which is gained by completing Operations and Raids and is essentially the points you pick up to increase your game rank, and will then respawn outside the police station without any of your gear or vehicles. Fortunately there is usually an unguarded police car in the parking lot. If you are unfortunate enough to be killed (we managed to be gunned down by police, thrown from our motorcycle at high speed in a pursuit, hit by a lorry, and simply by finding a glitch in the game that threw us about one hundred feet up in the air and then tumbling back down to earth with a sickening crunch) then you spawn at the hospital. Our first visit at the hospital we decided to tackle one of the nurses for the lols, unaware that there was a cop stood just outside. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
All in all the game is extremely fun, though it doesn’t quite have the perfected mechanics of Grand Theft Auto (the game is too easy to make the comparison), and does have some awkward controls from time to time and some particularly dodgy camera angles. The strategy elements that comes with working out how to spend your points is in some ways overshadowed by the more active Enforcer elements of performing crimes with your character. The game so far is very single player, with mention of Gang Wars coming in the future where players can make their own Triads/Guilds/Groups and take on other Triads (who knows when?), so right now it lacks the MMO aspect in our opinion, the “players” turf you attack could equally be just NPCs for all the difference it makes.
The game is still in closed beta , so there’s still some issues, particularly with Connection loss and complete game crashes (this happened quite regularly for us and made completing missions quite hard sometimes). Still it’s something that will no doubt be addressed before the release. As a game it’s a great title, but as a multiplayer game it’s currently seriously lacking.