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Review: Archangel: Hellfire (PC)By Chris125 At 04.08.2018 22:18

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It is a testament to the sheer mammoth force of economy that the videogame industry now possesses that a production company previously associated strictly with Hollywood can take the leap into gaming with such ease. Archangel: Hellfire is a prime example of what could surely be a growing trend of a new creative space to tell wider stories in gaming; when VR is added to the mix, the possibilities while using this visceral and growing medium only increase.

Where this is most apparent is in the noticeable production values on show within the single-player campaign telling the story of a dystopian future for humanity controlled by an autocratic regime called Humnx and its legions. In the VR space, the opening segment is among some of the best storytelling that has been on show within the genre and the quality of voice capture and narrative scripting sets the story apart from the off.

The protagonist takes the role of the lead soldier in the resistance movement trying to fight back against Humnx after a devastating attack on their base of operations. Of course, the weapon of choice is a huge mech. Literally staring up at the machine is an initial sight to behold, and the sense of scale never gets old. On top of the visual stimulation of the sale comes the brilliant sense of connection that comes from these huge hulking arms moving so smoothly to the 1:1 directions of the touch controllers. The control scheme in general is so satisfying and intuitive; it just works and feels right.

The fight takes place through a future vision of America in ruins and, like previously stated, the assets on show definitely give the impression of a big budget title and are probably among the top of what would be experienced on VR.

The catch, however, for all of this, is a big one. The experience is strictly on rails. That is to say, movement is not an option; so while this is a fantastic and gripping action spectacle with some top notch production values, it always has that nagging sense of being too much of a passive thing. For every excellent set piece moment, comes the feeling of wanting to break out of the chains and experience some free movement in these mechanical behemoths. Apparently, the developer took this on-board as around one year later came the multiplayer-focused expansion, Hellfire, which effectively replaces the base game. It doesn't add anything in the way of single-player but what it does do is add a fully-fledged multiplayer.

Thankfully, this multiplayer in indeed the full mech experience, complete with full movement. The best thing is that because the perspective takes place in a seated cockpit, the nausea factor is low, and being able to sit down ensures that playing time is not tied into bodily endurance. Movement is silky smooth, which seems converse to the clunking machines that are being piloted. However, what is so satisfying is that jetting through the air and landing with a thump is enough to shake the bones and leave a knot in the stomach even through the headset.

Getting into one of the multiplayer matches is not the quickest, and it would be ideal if a real push was made to emphasise and increase the player base. However, once inside a match, the experience is chaotic and fun, with plenty of options from 13 different weapons, six different mechs with their own play-styles and, at the moment, four maps. Whilst the PVP action is a lot of fun, where Archangel: Hellfire comes into its own is the co-op maps against waves of enemies. This mode allows a great deal of co-ordination and is endless fun, especially with friends.

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Final Score
Within the VR community, a mech title is something that is regularly touted as being something that could bring the best out of the platform. On the evidence of [i]Archangel: Hellfire[/i], this is certainly the case. The production values in the single-player campaign do a fine job of rivalling Skydance Interactive's movie arm, and the graphical fidelity and scale is impressive. However, the multiplayer expansion adds a real shot in the arm and provides the potential for a community to spring up and really enjoy this unique experience together.

8

/10

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