Published on June 30th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Miner of Duty Review, Sort of
Developer: Daniel Cary
Release Date: June 15th, 2012
Platform: Xbox LIVE Indie Games
Price: 240 MS Points (US $3)
Review Notes: A game token was received for review purposes.
Microsoft’s console has been a breeding ground for Indie Game titles. We’ve had the opportunity to review quite a few of those titles here at GAMINGtruth. From games like Super Meat Boy, to titles such as Cell: Emergence—the market has opened up like gaping hole for gamers to create games how they want to play them.
While Indie games have been on the rise, so have the create-your-own experience types of these games. Crafting games started surfacing along with the debut of Minecraft, some of which being dubbed “clones” of the original crafter. Even so, games like Total Miner: Forge, Minecraft and Castle Miner are amongst the most popular on PC and Xbox LIVE. With Total Miner: Forge being in the top tier of the craft style games on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games channel, it was only inevitable that it would take a venture into something a bit more competitive. Enter: Miner of Duty.
As the title suggests, the game is heavily based around the multiplayer aspect. It is a cross between the first person shooter activities of Call of Duty and the crafting of Total Miner: Forge. The game shows off some of the same weaponry and class features that the war themed FPS is known for. The game also touches on same of the multiplayer options. There is one mode which you can take advantage of by yourself, which is the Swarm Mode. Protect blocks as oncoming zombies swarm and attack you. This is much more exciting and accurate compared to the multiplayer aspect of the game.
While Miner of Duty sounds like it would be nothing less than an awesome spectacle of block building, sneaky tactics and multiplayer action—there’s something missing. One key factor to the game, which is something essential in multiplayer action, would be the abundance of players.
Matches are hit and miss. In the sense of both connecting to matches, and the bullets dealt within. I might shake your hand if can actually find a match that everyone drops into and starts right away. The multiplayer in the game allows for 2v2 options, but it is tough enough simply trying to locate and create a one-on-one deathmatch.
Other than Team Deathmatch, the game hosts Free for All and Fort Wars modes. The free for all is just like what it sounds and the Fort Wars intrigued me the most.
Remembering my tirades as a kid, all I wanted to do was build a fort of pillows and fight enemies with my knowledge of karate from Bruce Lee movies. Fort Wars brings the element of imagination to life as you are pitted against opponents and given the chance to build a semi-real world fort. After the time limit expires, it is now time to attack, or be attacked. The game has similar rules to deathmatch and can lead to some below ground tactics and make the game fun in this sense.
Something else players will find enticing about the structure of the game is its use of upgrades. Holding true to developing an online player and abilities, there are a few options after leveling up classes in the game. Thick Skin, Endurance, and Quick Hands are three of the available upgrades you can use to give you an advantage. Players can also manipulate equipment and weapon slots for just the right loadout.
As stated before, the biggest issue with Miner of Duty is the abundance of players. After trying to connect to a game as the clock ticked closer to midnight, I thought, “Hm, maybe it’s the time I’m playing at?” After making several attempts during the day, morning, evening, etc., the games became few and far between, only allowing for a handful of cases where the teams were stacked and ready to build/slay.
While Miner of Duty does have its shortfalls, there are quite a few things about the game that make it legitimately unique. The concept of building your way out of danger, or using lava to kill an opponent are what drive the game’s main mechanic. Other times you can dig below an unsuspecting victim and take them out by their ankles. That is, if you can hit them.
The game does seem to literally miss the mark when it comes to aiming. The reticule allows an easy to follow aiming scheme, whereas looking down the iron sights is bulky and inaccurate. Even for guns like the SMG, it pays to spray and not aim with precision. This makes for some difficult situations. An enemy could be standing right in front of you, even with the reticule aimed, with bullets pouring out of your gun, and will end up killing you by awkwardly sticking you with their tactical knife. Yeah, the knifing isn’t as cool as it sounds.
The game offers quite a few initial weapons. The SMG, FAL, and Shotgun are common weapons among modern shooters. The FAL is great for distanced shots while the SMG can unload at short ranges. The shotgun is surprisingly the most accurate of these. Pistols have also become secondary weapons that come in handy if you might have run out of bullets. If you are completely out, you might get tactical with both types of grenades offered in the game.
Similar aiming follies occur when throwing grenades. Various trajectory issues make throwing these a chore, especially when you are relying on an explosion to save your hide. The game is still running on the Voxel engine, which aids in the games look, but might have limited this mobility effort.
The physics powering grenade usages choppy and sporadic, which leads to sloppy throws. For one case in particularly, this inaccuracy left me for dead during the Fort Wars mode. I was watching an enemy build their fort and wait inside as if it was safe inside the sand blocks. I had dug a hole in the back of the fort and attempted to toss a grenade in. The simple task left my pixels sprayed on the ground as it was troublesome just to make the quick dump and run.
It is tough to really give an Indie Game an overall finalized score. There are constantly updates to the user experience through the course of the games life on the Xbox LIVE channel. There are also modifications to the game, leaderboards, and plenty of additional content. This is something which other games have huge teams working day and night to achieve, but is done here at times by a single figure.
With the game needing much attention under the hood, I would however urge you to pick up the title. Why? You may ask. Well, what happens when hundreds if not thousands of folks give constructive feedback? The game changes. Offering this type of feedback can be used to make the game better, and in this case, at the least give some players already buildin’ and killin’ some new opponents to take on.
I don’t feel it just to give the game an overall score at the moment. With there still being room for the title to grow, oddly enough as I stare at the blank blue screen in front of me as the game crashed, it doesn’t seem appropriate to give it a finalized score. Jump into the multiplayer and get a feel for yourself. After all, you play what you craft.
Make sure to check out the title on the Xbox LIVE Indie Game channel.