Published on December 13th, 2012 | by Ben Hedworth7
Ace of Spades Review
A sub-par Team Fortress 2 Minecraft combination…
I only discovered the existence of Ace of Spades yesterday and found that actually this isn’t technically a new release. Ace of Spades was originally a project started by former Navy officer Ben Aksoy who set out to create a voxel based shooter with no specific direction.
Ace of Spades started life off as a free to play WW1 trench shooter with heavy emphasis on fortifying and connecting trenches with a minimal amount of weapons, graphically it could run on almost any machine which was incredibly conducive to the games popularity.
It gained around 2.1 million installs which clearly interested UK -based Jagex who are responsible for the incredibly popular Runescape. The AoS community claims Jagex took Ace of Spades, completely butchered the gameplay, ruined the low-end graphics and slapped a $10 price tag on there beloved free to play voxel shooter. Regardless of these facts I have never played pre 1.0 AoS, so just to clarify this is a review of the new Jagex Ace of Spades with no relevance to the old one. We sorted? Good!
After the swift 300mb download and the soft £7/$10 blow to my wallet I hopped into Ace of Spades intrigued, but not particularly excited. I navigated a rather bare graphics menu with some basic options and struggled to get my control layout to my usual FPS preference due to some keys being unbindable.
“the flat textured block world lacks both character and detail”
My first few games seemed to be a lag infested cesspit of blocks where high ping equalled low FPS. Luckily I finally found some EU servers and could attempt to play this strange clash of popular game genres.
Visually the game is very dull, the flat textured block world lacks both character and detail. The bold colours give Ace of Spades clear and simplistic visuals which would have fit perfectly if Jagex didn’t opt for substantially generic environments.
The endless greens of ‘Mayan jungle’, vast array of greys on ‘Lunar Base’ and even the most varied map ‘London’ feels disappointingly bland. Using a Voxel based engine but sticking to tired, overused themes leaves me feeling the level design in Ace of Spades is a missed opportunity.
”Using a Voxel based engine but sticking to tired, overused themes leaves me feeling the level design in Ace of Spades is a missed opportunity.”
It seems that Ace of Spades launched with 5 maps which is nothing short of pathetic. On top of this the level design heavily influences class choice in a bad way. Maps aren’t only large in length and width, they are also incredibly high which cater to the ‘Rocketeer’ class mostly. The Rocketeer who has a powerful, speedy jetpack with a very short cooldown leaves all the other classes fumbling across the ground or struggling to scale higher points in the map, the ‘Rocketeer’ can pop down, pick a player off and go straight back up to safety.
The other most favoured class is the frustrating Marksman. It’s high power sniper rifle is both easy as piss to use, works at long and short range and for the most part can 1 or 2 shots opponents. It’s not the Marksman is overpowered, but more along the lines of the Commando and Miner’s classes having overwhelming underpowered primary weapons. The Commando’s minigun is too inaccurate and the launchers rockets are far too slow to use at range, the Miner’s short range shotgun feels flimsy at best.
Balanced can be tweaked and new maps can be added, the game will shift when players find out how to utilise classes to the best of their ability. What bothers me more than stupid weapon and level design is the fact that Jagex chose to emphasise the class based combat over the environment manipulation mechanics.
“Jagex chose to emphasise the class based combat over the environment manipulation mechanics.”
The idea of fortifying points in the map, digging fox holes, building bunkers, towers and digging under enemy lines is brilliant. It’s not that you can’t do that in Ace of Spades, it’s the fact that it will get destroyed in milliseconds if you try.
Digging your own cubbyhole or building your own base area takes far too long, by the time you have carefully placed your stupidly bright blocks it’s been blown to shreds by rockets and grenades. Players are much more successful by completely skipping the mining elements and using the shovel as the game clearly states a ‘melee weapon’.
Even if the building elements did work rounds are so short you don’t have time to evolve the map into something completely organic. Tactically placed bridges, strategically carved valleys and secret tunnels would form beautifully in an hour long battle, but Ace of Spades is cursed with ten or so minute rounds in which the map stays pretty much the same.
“the Ace of Spades Facebook is overwhelmed with negative responses”
I don’t feel like I’m being overly critical with this review either as most of the players I spoke to in-game were complaining, the official forum is full of lag and optimisation issues and the Ace of Spades Facebook is overwhelmed with negative responses. Jagex took away two of the most important elements that made pre 1.0 Ace of Spades so popular, it used to completely free and you could run it on any machine.
I’m almost certain Jagex picked this up on the ground it looks like Minecraft with guns and instead of optimising it for a commercial release some they thought…Meincraftrz + teem furtrezz = profit$$$$.
While I could say this is a light hearted, fast paced shooter with an interesting mining mechanic, I won’t. Ace of Spades had the potential to take a really unique and creative look at the somewhat stagnant FPS market, but Jagex did an all round poor job and looked to capitalise and take advantage of the Ace of Spades community.
Before I go I would also like to state Jagex and various Ace of Spade websites use positive review quotes from the original game which is extremely different, lame move.
Summary: While Ace of Spades isn't inherently awful, it's a missed opportunity. Without emphasis on the environment manipulation mechanics AoS falls incredibly short on tired ideas and trys to ride the success of other voxel and class based hits.