Earthfall (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 04.09.2018

Review for Earthfall on Xbox One

Not too long ago, the invasion happened. Although the people of Earth fought as hard as they could, they were eventually overwhelmed. Cities were destroyed, entire populations were decimated. Now, only a scant number of survivors remain. Their desperate struggle to continue the fight against an unimaginable force is all they have left. Thank God they live in America then, because every home has guns just lying around. Always outnumbered, never outgunned, that's life after Earthfall.

Imagine a day where humanity isn't on the brink of extinction. Imagine a perfectly normal life that didn't involve waging war with the unknown. Imagine being anywhere else but here, playing Earthfall. Lately, it's becoming harder and harder to understand the appeal of these post-apocalyptic videogames. Seemingly every day features a new threat. If it isn't the zombies, then it's the robots. If it isn't the robots, then it's the mutants. Obviously, the aliens have to get involved every now and then. Maybe one day someone will get the idea to pit mankind against the mutated cyborg zombified aliens. It would be the ultimate dream match, wouldn't it? Oh, and one more thing, the entire debacle would take place in Extra-Terrestrial Hell. What is Hell like for an alien? Maybe one day developers will get around to figuring that out.

Anyway, this game involves moving from one destination to the next while gunning down an endless army of aliens. Most of these jerks aren't particular intelligent or skilled, but their numerical superiority makes them a constant threat. Up to four players can take control of the survivors, leading them through a variety of locales. Sometimes they have to engage in missions, like finding fuel for a van, or flipping switches to access the next area. Throughout each of the ten chapters, survivors will helpfully point out weapons, where to go next, and anything else that's especially notable.

Screenshot for Earthfall on Xbox One

The extra-terrestrial pursuers are occasionally assisted by elites. These menaces are especially deadly. Sappers explode, covering the immediate area with noxious gas. Whiplash drags hapless survivors to their doom, while Threshers maul anyone who doesn't get out of the way. Blackout teleports around while flinging lasers. Then there's the Beast, who just likes to crush everything and everyone. As if that wasn't enough, these creatures are sensitive to sound, and will swarm anytime there's a loud noise. In short, try to avoid setting off car alarms.

When all else fails, sometimes the only way out is to stand one's ground. Conveniently enough, guns and ammo are everywhere. There are even 3D printing presses that churn out more firearms. Medkits and stim-packs are much harder to come by, but they are essential for keeping friends alive. In some instances, there are also barricades and turrets that can be set up to slow aliens down. Survivors would do well to take advantage of every resource available to them. There's no benefit in holding back.

Screenshot for Earthfall on Xbox One

Everyone reading the review up to this point is probably wondering: "Hey. This sounds a lot like Left 4 Dead". Indeed, the similarities are very apparent. Any fan of the Valve classic will immediately be able to pick up on every aspect of Earthfall. However, now there's something of a predicament. What exactly helps this stand out from the one that inspired it? Well, aside from the addition of turrets and barricades, not much. Oh, and also a button must be held down in order to sprint, which is pretty annoying.

As painful as comparison reviews tend to be, this is one of those cases where it's simply unavoidable. When it comes to videogames, clones are really common, but there's usually some incentive to playing them. In some ways they could be worse than their forebears, but they could also have improvements of their own. This gives the entertainment software an identity, and sometimes the final result actually turns out to be a fresh and exciting experience. Unfortunately, this clone simply isn't as good.

To start with, the action just isn't as satisfying as it should be. The guns sound very bland and don't carry much in the way of impact. It feels like the survivors are just plinking away at aliens until they fall over and disintegrate. Headshots are especially unsatisfying. That's probably because Earthfall refers to them as "brainshots." The deal with these interplanetary foes is that their heads aren't really distinct. Instead of decapitating them with a sniper rifle, all that tends to happen is that their core is destroyed and they collapse. Considering the frantic nature of the sub-genre, it's not wise to take the time to admire kills, but one must always have audio and visual feedback to confirm when something is dead. That isn't the case here.

Screenshot for Earthfall on Xbox One

One of the few complaints some had about Left 4 Dead is how certain enemies had "phantom range." They could grab survivors or inflict a lot of pain, even when not even that close. It's especially aggravating when dealing with Tanks, as their thrown vehicles always seem to connect. This game really doesn't make an attempt to improve upon that aspect. In some cases, it's even worse. By the time somebody notices a Thresher or a Whiplash, it's usually too late. They are going to get pinned down or dragged away. Blackout and The Beast are both capable of firing projectiles, and they are almost impossible to dodge. The grunts also seem to do damage even when it looks like their claw swipes miss. All in all, this just feels like a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. It doesn't add to the challenge, it just makes players feel helpless.

Although each chapter has multiple objectives, there really aren't any inspired set-pieces. Remember that time in Left 4 Dead 2 where the survivors had to run through a cornfield, while trying to avoid Witches? There isn't anything as creative or interesting here. Sometimes progress is stymied by a locked door, and some other times everyone has to wait for a chopper to rescue them. Unique scenarios that really take advantage of what this has to offer simply don't happen.

Screenshot for Earthfall on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Even though Earthfall is, in most respects, mechanically sound and competently designed, it's still a hard game to recommend. This co-operative FPS never successfully manages to step out of the shadow of its inspiration. The ability to set up defensive measures, including turrets and barricades, is pretty neat. However, that's not enough, particularly when every other moment feels overly familiar and sometimes worse. All in all, this rendition of humanity's last stand won't hold anyone's attention for very long.

Developer

Holospark

Publisher

Holospark

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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