Evolve Review

Fans of exciting and novel multiplayer gaming have been itching to get their hands on Turtle Rock Studios’ “Evolve”, a game that merges several neat concepts together with stunning visuals.   Although it has only been out (officially) for a day (as of the time of this writing) it is already garnering some attention and high marks from both gamers as well as critics. Let’s dive in and see what makes this game tick…

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Now, before we go any further you should probably know that this is the team that brought us Left 4 Dead as well as add-on content for counter strike, L4D2, and Half-life 2.   If those credentials don’t get you excited, then what will?   Rest assured though, this isn’t a bland rehashing of the ideas explored in L4D, it is indeed a completely original and dynamic game concept in and of itself. Basically, it is a PvP, 4 vs. 1 –type affair, where 4 human players, each with their own special skills, works together against a 5th player, who takes on the role of a large monster-like creature.

Team dynamics

Naturally, what makes the game “fun” is the dichotomy between how the human players manage team dynamics while navigating the thoughtfully-designed map and attempting to avoid or destroy the lurking terror. On the opposite side of that equation, the person controlling the monster can actually evolve their abilities by ingesting prey (hence the title, “Evolve”).   Likewise, this also encapsulates three specific stages of growth too, where each successive evolution brings more abilities and size.

The Specifics

The human players are divided into 4 distinct classes: Assault, Trapper, Medic, and Support. Clearly the first two jobs, assault and trapper are pretty straightforward – one is geared toward blatant action while the other’s job is to try to capture the monster in various ways.   Moreover, the medic is the healer and support is kind of an all-purpose player with special benefits, like the ability to cloak the team, etc.

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While playing as a human might be fun for a while, at some point you’re going to want to jump in and experience the game as one of the four monster characters, which are as follows: Goliath, Kraken, Wraith and Behemoth. Additionally, the great thing here is that each one of these 4 also has 4 unique abilities, which range from hurling projectiles and teleporting to cloning, cloaking or grabbing.   In other words, you’ll have lots of options at your disposal for hunting down and snatching your prey, which will in turn make the other players incredibly nervous (thereby ramping up the fun factor once again).

It’s all about the hunt

By and large, one of the main things that Evolve seems to imbue in terms of its action-packed FPS gameplay is a sense of THE HUNT.   There’s a certain level of tension that this game generates, which when taken together with its unique level design and atmosphere which really beckons a feeling of being on some interplanetary hunting trip. You are actually pushed to develop your tracking skills and think critically too, rather than just blast everything around you into oblivion constantly. Moreover, a smart monster player can pull off some extremely inventive moves if they’re clever, perhaps even leading the team into a trap. By and large though, you’ll find that moments of intense excitement and fear are measured with instances of solace and inaction.   While many might decry this aesthetic, claiming that they need constant gun battles and the like, it is these moments of relief that add character to the game, allowing you to really get a good look around at the stunning environment. At the same time, this also allows the tension level to drop again for a brief moment before it rises yet again in another brutal encounter. Not to worry though, throughout it all you’ll also have dangerous wildlife to keep you busy too.

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The bottom line

In one sense, Evolve takes the basic competitive multiplayer concept and artfully merges it with a unique story and set of situational circumstances to bring us something that is greater than the sum of its parts.   Likewise, because it all ends up being about how you approach the game as an individual there is amazing replay value too. If you enjoyed Left 4 Dead then you’re probably going to love this…

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