Title: Wasteland 2
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC (reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Publisher: inXile Entertainment/Deep Silver (depends on platform)
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $39.99/39.99 Euro
Tagline: A rejuvenated classic returns, looking sharper than ever
Family Friendly: Click here to read more
Verdict: Buy it already
One can probably count on one hand how many times trying to bring back a beloved 20+ year old classic turns out positive. Movies, songs and more try to make old new again, but they rarely capture the feel of that original classic. And yet, Wasteland 2 not only managed to capture the feel of its 26-year-old original, but improved on it both visually and narratively as well. Now, this popular sequel has been released for console players to enjoy (as well as PC players) in the new Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut and it does a solid job giving controller jockeys a chance to enjoy a unique, if difficult, gaming experience.
In coming to the consoles, Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut adds several new features to the game, with the biggest probably being the ability to play the game with your controller. Wasteland 2 shipped as a PC game at launch, and it was never really conceived to be played with a controller, instead making huge use of the keyboard on that platform. It would make one think that a PC focused game like this would have trouble mapping to a controller and yet, its control scheme is surprisingly clear and focused. Most common options are available on the face buttons with additional options brought up on a simple radial wheel. I found myself enjoying the controller option, to the point where I could see myself using this as the preferred method of control with the PC version as well.
inXile could have stopped with making the controller option available and called it a day for Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, but it didn’t. It also redid most of the art assets in the game, moving it from the Unity 4 engine to the newer and more advanced Unity 5 development tool. It allowed for new features like more detailed particle physics and enhanced character models. It also added either re-recorded voiceover work for some character, added more lines for others and added voices to characters that had been text-only conversations in Wasteland 2.
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut keeps the same narrative that was found in the original release, with the Arizona Desert Rangers having to investigate the death of one of their own and slowly working their way through a deep, thrilling mystery that unfolds around your choices and decisions. There are many shades of grey here instead of contrasted black and white decisions. Many times, there are no good solutions and it can leave you agonized about making a potentially poor decision. Skill checks throughout these choices can also assist or detriment your outcomes as well, ending in either a new piece of equipment/personnel or nothing more than a fight with the odds weighing against you.
Combat is also relatively unchanged, with the game jumping quickly from its snappy new 3D rendered screens on to grid based combat areas. Combat is tactical in nature, with one needing to use careful planning during a battle, or risk losing your entire squad to a group of raiders. Things like making sure to have a clear line of sight (friendly fire is possible), if cover is involved and even if you are standing or on a knee when taking a shot. Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut makes the most of its combat engine and it is still a lot of fun to plan and plot your way through a battle turn by turn, hoping to emerge victorious with no casualties.
Even with all these nice new and returning features, there are a few things that get in the way of enjoying Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, with difficulty being first and foremost. The game never seems to pull any punches right from the start, throwing enemies at you fairly consistently while making ammo and medical supplies scarce or prohibitively expensive. Mix this with characters that are somewhat inexperienced from the start; they will miss far more often than not, and it can lead to some irritating outcomes. Frequent saving and loading can salvage this to some degree, but the long load times can lead to further frustration.
Inventory management also becomes a chore as you progress through the game, as you must manually manage each of your party’s inventory. There is no pooled inventory here and moving things between characters can be troublesome if you don’t remember who is equipped with what, as you can only move things via a character’s name, not their inventory. I ran into a lot of frustration giving medical supplies to the wrong person to the point that I started my game over and gave the character’s names that were relevant to the skills I had assigned them.
Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut also shows its lineage from the PC with text that can be hard to read from far away on the television screen. In a game that does still have a lot of descriptive text for locations and items in the environment, inXile should have found a better way to present this text for the big screen console players.
Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut finds a way to move past its flaws however, due to its compelling story, interesting quests, fascinating NPC characters and a newfound controls based around a console controller. It is a unique experience that is rarely found on these new consoles and can be a rewarding experience for those willing to invest the time into learning its nuances.
- Builds on the classic story-line from the original
- Turn-based combat is deceptively simple
- The new Unity 5 graphics look fantastic
- Is very unforgiving to those not paying attention to every little detail
- Lots of text walls to explain items, which can lead to some dull moments
- Another game with PC roots that has difficult to read text on screen
Nope, nope, nope, Wasteland 2 is not for the younger kids. There is excessive violence at times, uncomfortable topics are a regular occurrence, cannibalism, sexual suggestions and so much more. And that was before I even got to mention the gallons of blood throughout the game. So keep Wasteland 2 with those in their late teens and up.
This review was prepared using retail Xbox One code provided by Microsoft.