Just one more round, I promise!
ShootMania Storm Got Right
- + Addictive, simple gameplay
- + Accuracy is all that matters
- + Elite mode
- + Level editor
ShootMania Storm Got Wrong
- - Super repetitive
- - Annoying soundtrack
- - Finding matches in Australia is a real struggle
- - Just throws you in
ShootMania Storm is one of those niche games you and your mainstream attitude unashamedly ignore, before someone forces it upon you and the addiction takes hold.
ShootMania Storm, I’m sorry for ignoring you.
In a world obsessed with modern warfare, ultra realism and whatever Black Ops II was on about, ShootMania goes back to basics. It requires skill to win and assigns you at most two simple tasks: kill the other dude, and maybe capture a base.
Expect to die a great many times during your first few rounds. I had the pleasure of playing locally with other uninitiated n00bs, but as soon as I went online, the skill level spiked like a Brazilian beach volleyballer.
It’s all about accuracy. There are no guns to choose from, no perks to unlock and no killstreaks to abuse.
Hitting your target is challenging, but all so more rewarding when you do make contact in a game that has just three weapons. The standard mid-range cannon can only be fired four times before it needs a few seconds to cool down, and the long-range more powerful weapon can only fire once before it needs a rest. This seemingly slight pause averts ShootMania becoming a spammy mess, and forces you to hold fire until you’re about to line-up a shot, or risk being caught short when the opportune moment presents itself.
It’s all about accuracy. There are no guns to choose from, no perks to unlock and no killstreaks to abuse. Everyone has the same weapon (depending on the circumstances) and there’s no ammo to worry about.
ShootMania Storm offers just three modes: Elite, Joust and Arena. But more can easily be added to ManiaPlanet’s tiled menu. Arena is the most popular free-for-all mode with support for up to 16-players and where you’ll hone your skills; although, Aussies tend to stick to eight-player matches. Joust has you watching more than playing, but it’s a good way to steal ideas from other players.
Elite is my favourite and the point of difference that kept me hooked. Split into two teams of three, players take turns in attack and defence. One player from the attacking team, armed with a one-hit weapon, takes on three defenders with a mid-range three-hit cannon. There’s a short window to focus on the killing, before a secondary 15 second timeframe opens for the attacker to get to a central base. The attacker wins by getting there without being killed or killing all three defenders who need to either eliminate the attacker or at least worry them out of getting to the base in time. It strikes a perfect balance between power, numbers and time to give both teams an equal chance, despite the 1 v 3 discrepancy.
This is all well and good, but at the end of the day, besides a meaningless ranking, there’s no feeling of progression or continuing accomplishment. It’s exhilarating to win a round by the skin of your teeth, but then everything just resets.
That’s where ShootMania’s untapped potential comes into play, and why it’s almost impossible to award it a meaningful review score. As it stands, most of what ShootMania will become hasn’t been developed yet -- player creation is the most important function.
An extremely impressive level editor allows you to design your own stages and even game modes by completely overhauling the rules. Test them out, make sure the rules make for a compelling contest, and then take it online for the world to enjoy. The success of StormMania will largely come down to the community’s work ethic.
The biggest problem I’ve had with ShootMania Storm is living in this country nobody’s ever heard of called “Australia”. Sure, there’s an option to jump onto the Oceania server, and then request Australia within that (although that’s a waste of time, as the New Zealanders are apparently playing 0 games). To play my favoured Elite mode, you need exactly six players, which is all well and good if you have six Aussie friends all online at once, but downright impossible otherwise. It took me 30 minutes to join one of the three Aussie matches I found yesterday, and then everyone quit.
To hell with that! Europe has a bunch of Ubisoft servers that do a much better job of matching you with players -- I got in immediately with some Swedes. But then my internet reminded me that it doesn’t do international gaming, and wouldn’t allow the precise shots ShootMania is all about. It was impossible to play.
Unless you have supercharged internet, you’re going to have to do it the old fashion way: find some friends, get them all online at the same time, and set-up your own match.
There’s also absolutely no tutorial, or even guidance as to what you should be doing. It’s fairly easy to pick it up, but with no room for error, you’ll need to consult YouTube videos to level the playing field with a more experienced online contingency.
The Final Verdict
ShootMania Storm is one of the simplest shooters I’ve played in a long while, but also the most addictive. It’s the perfect example of a game that can be learnt in minutes, but takes hours to master. The competitive nature of Elite, in particular, will have talking yourself into “just one more game” as your night disappears, and the emphasis on accuracy and pure skill rather than perks and upgrades is refreshing. Longevity is in the hands on the community, with the suburb level editor, and it’s impossible to say how well these tools are going to be used in comparison to potential. The only resounding blight comes down to difficulties finding a match in Australia, and playing internationally just isn’t an option with precision aiming.