Ace of Spades Preview (PC)

At its core, Ace of Spades is a decent mixture of Minecraft and Team Fortress II – and that’s not to say that it’s trying to be one of those “me too” games that’s tried to follow in Notch’s wake. This game has been around before and is being given a breath of fresh air by Jagex, the guys behind Runescape. The thing with Minecraft is that there’s not always a ‘point’ to it, no goal to work towards other than what you give yourself – but what could be more meaningful than squaring up into arbitrary teams and trying to kill each other whilst constructing a lovely little house. Or Bunker or trench…

It’s important that you don’t let the Minecraft portion of the DNA run away with your imagination too much – Ace of Spades is not Minecraft. Due to the nature of the FPS side of the game, the construction/destruction side lacks the technical and practical finesse you’d get if you were playing Minecraft. For example, different classes in Ace of Spades have different tools that they use for digging through blocks, with some being better than others – not in terms like Iron axe, Diamond axe, but one class can only destroy one block at a time, whilst another can destroy two, three even more. It makes precision a little tough when you’re engaging in construction, but then if all you want to do is tunnel under enemy lines as fast as possible it becomes very handy for scooping out a tunnel in almost no time at all.

I placed that turret. You’re welcome

Ace of Spades will sport four main classes for launch (with hints that there may be more later on) – Soldier, Scout, Engineer, Miner. Starting from Soldier, things move more and more away from actually fighting and more towards support/construction. The weapon load-outs may change before the official launch, but essentially classes share certain similarities. Everyone has a rocket-launcher, for example, as well as grenades and something to destroy the environment with. The Soldier is the one most equipped for the FPS portion of the game, being equipped with a rifle – which is an excellent single-shot medium ranged weapon, a mini-gun, and a few other more offensive orientated weapons. The Scout’s main weapon is the Sniper Rifle, whilst the Engineer has a Shotgun, and a pistol, and can deploy turrets. The Engineer also has the stronger shovel, so can dig more blocks at once over the Soldier/Scout, who only have a pickaxe. The Miner is the least offensive in a sense given that it only has a rifle as a weapon, but it does have a drill gun (really cool) and dynamite, which if used properly can be extremely deadly. It also sports a ‘super shovel’ and can dig up the most blocks at once out of all the classes.

We used ‘Team Fortress II’ earlier to describe the FPS aspect the game, but really all you need to know is that it’s fairly fast paced. Your avatar can zip across the battlefield very quickly, and given that everyone has a rocket launcher you can imagine the kind of carnage that can ensue fairly quickly. It’s going ot be interesting to see how the internal balance develops between the ‘soldiers’ that are shooting each other, and the miners/engineers or are less combat focused. Since building anything of worth can be a bit fiddly, each class will have their own unique ‘prefabricated’ structure that they can access via hot key and just plonk down in an available space. At the time of writing there were only three prefabs available – a platform, a staircase and a bunker, but there will be expanded upon before launch so that each class has their own unique ones.

Ground control to Major Tom. Shoot those mudders

The environments you play around in as well aren’t half bad either. The original game had a lot of fan-made maps, many of which have been ported over. We played in several locations such as the Lunar base, a jungle and even a cemetery for the ‘Zombie’ mode (Which is pretty fun). It’s also interesting to see the environment completely degrade over time via damage, and given the fact the engine uses realistic physics, so if you take out a structures support it will collapse. The aforementioned zombie mode (there are other modes too like Capture the Flag etc…) is especially funny as one proper game can last several rounds, but the map state remains consistent throughout – trust me, there’s not much left to hide in by the time you get to the end.

From the limited hands-on we’ve had with the game, we can definitely see the appeal in Ace of Spades. It’s not a casual “in-and-out” game like Minecraft, but with rounds usually lasting no more than 10 minutes, it’s easy to fit a couple of goes here and there, and at the end of the day it’s something different. It’s a shame they got rid of the ‘World War I’ feel from the original version, as there’s yet to be a decent attempt at a WWI game. Oh well. Ace of Spades still has a bit of work left to go, but a Steam build of the game is rumoured to be digging its way up in December. Keep an eye out for it.

Most Anticipated Feature: Seeing what other game modes there are and how they play around with the basic concept.

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By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Nov 20, 2012
And the war over minecraftia has begun ^^