Nadeo is a company mainly known for its popular arcade racing games Trackmania. Lately we had the chance to try their latest work, Shootmania Storm, which tries to bring into the FPS genre the key elements that Trackmania players loved so much: simplicity, community-driven content, skill-based gameplay.
Shootmania Storm requires a fee to play the full game ($19.99 at launch, 20% off during pre-orders), however it will open two game modes for free: Royal (free-for-all last-man-standing, oriented towards newcomers) and Elite (3v3 e-Sports mode).
The developers have been heavily influenced by the old-school FPS' like Quake and Unreal Tournament. Essentially they took the fun and fast gameplay mechanics from this old games and added modern graphics and some other cool features. The game is REALLY simple, you have just to learn the basic controls: movement, shooting, gliding and that's all, no levels, no exp, no character progression, no fancy weapons, you can jump into a match, figure out how the game mode works and play. There are no stats and equip that could advantage who play more. It's really all about skill, the one with the better reflexes, strategy and teamwork (in a team based mode) wins, like the good old days. While someone could find this simplicity a weakness, we assure you that it is the main selling point of the game. The accessibility of this game is perfect. Once you have downloaded and installed the small client, you just need a click to jump in the game selection and into the action.
The graphics are really nice with cool special effect and little things like the water reflection, but at the same time they are simple and light. Everything runs smooth, which is an essential thing in a FPS. The controls are very simple, intuitive and responsive, and we didn't noticed any lag, and this is a very good thing for a competitive game that aim to become an e-Sport.
Our first game was a free for all Deathmatch. Everyone is equipped with a base weapon that shoots projectiles similar to fireballs. It's very similar to your usual rocket launcher from any other FPS but has no splash damage so you have to aim well while dodging the enemy shots. In some cases you can temporary morph your weapon in something else. For example, standing on a certain platform your weapon becomes a railgun-style weapon and instead of jumping, you can use the spacebar to zoom and snipe the hell out of your opponent one-shooting them. As you move away from the platform, your weapon will return to the base "rocket launcher". In addition, everyone in this mode has just 2 "HP" and there are no med-kits in the map, so you have to be extremely careful because the base weapon hit for 1 point of damage and the "railgun" weapon one-shot you. As you can see is easy to understand that the game is designed with an e-sport idea in mind and features a system that rewards the player's skill.
Another key element of the game is the community-created contents. Beside hosting their own server, players can create pretty much anything, from maps to entire game modes. This is a HUGE feature that will extremely boost the game's longevity. We tried some crazy players' creations like a trial mode where you have to compete for the best time in difficult tracks, which reminded us some of the harder jumping puzzles from GW2. The liberty given to the players opens the game to endless possibilities to expansion and improvement. A particular map feels unbalanced? Don't worry, there's no need to wait a patch from the developers, the skillful members of the community will modify it until become perfect. Do you have an idea for a crazy, awesome arena? Just do it.
We tried some other modes like Instagib, where everyone is armed only with a railgun and has 1 HP, and another one with capture points where the organized and expert enemy team literally destroyed us. We liked the difficulty and the chance that the game offers, and we love this old-school feeling that pushes you to actually become better at playing in order to win instead of just leveling or obtaining better gear and skill.
Shootmania Storm is not a game for everyone. Like the majority of the old-school multiplayer competitive games, it's the embodiment of the expression "simple to learn, hard to master", and you have to dedicate a lot of time for practice if you want to become strong. On the other side it's really easy to get hooked with its fast and fun gameplay and its accessibility. We can easily see a lot of players addicted to the modern FPS with a huge weapons selection and vertical progression just disliking the game thinking it's too simple or too empty. The truth is Shootmania Storm has a lot to offer, and if you can take the time to get past the lack of weapons or levels, you can find an old-fashioned game with addictive and challenging gameplay and a huge longevity thanks to the user-created content.