Back in 2005, developer Alientrap released the original Nexuiz, a ridiculously fast and frenetic multiplayer FPS in the vein of the original Q3A (Quake 3 Arena). Originally released under GPL, it quickly became one of the most popular independently developed Quake Engine titles, and development continued until February 2008, when the last “classic” version of Nexuiz was released. In 2010, a little-known outfit called IllFonic purchased the rights to the title’s namesake, some of the team and a big chunk of propriety source code.
While the large bulk of the original team carried on with GPL development of the game under a new title, Xonotic, IllFonic became the first third-party developer to license Crytek’s CryENGINE 3 to develop Nexuiz into a downloadable console title. Roughly two years later, we’re presented with the “reimagining”, the same ridiculously fast and unforgiving Quake-style combat, complete with a variety of familiar weapons, map types and those portal jumps you just love to hate.
I know I’m within good company when I note that playing a traditional FPS, as in, one that doesn’t rely on hiding behind cover or features regenerative health, on a console is extraordinarily awkward. I’ve never been spectacular at quickly aiming during a circle strafe or while flying through the air via thumb sticks, and I still harness the sneaking suspicion that the design of this particular control style was never designed for it either. I constantly found myself getting dropped in on, and that constant movement was forever hampered by the need to refocus the camera or deal with the dreadful FOV.
Now when you’re playing on a PC with a reasonable resolution, the fact that your gun is sitting front and centre generally isn’t too much of a concern. But when the game is designed to be played on a television, like most console iterations, Field of View is always a constant concern. I found myself constantly trying to peer around or above my weapon, especially if I was using the comically large shotgun or any of the burst fire rifles. My console preferring partner would be laughing through the headset while I complained, but simply being used to a terrible situation doesn’t make it a justified design decision on the part of the developers.
Nexuiz just feels like it should have stayed on the PC. The maps and weapons couldn’t be more channelling Q3A if they tried, and the placement of boosters, armour, health and secret bonuses is even more telling. I remember once playing the Dreamcast port of Q3A back in the early days of online consoles, and this experience was almost identical to that - albeit the netcode was better and I wasn’t competing with people using keyboard and mouse. The battle just moves too fast for you to keep up using such a sluggish and inaccurate mechanism.
That said, the game *is* built well, and attempts to complement the control scheme. Changing weapons quickly is simple, and the rest are available via an easily accessible scroll wheel. Crazy perks will occasionally popup for you to inflict on yourself and your team/opponents, and a quick flick of the D-Pad provides a simple choice. But let’s face it - all of the handicaps in the world, from auto-aim to splash damage, can’t make an arena shooter work properly on a console. It’s just wrong, and just like fitting an obese man into a Barina - just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean it should be attempted.
Not only that, but it just feels generic. It feels like they took what the original developers made and added a shiny gloss to it, ignoring what made it special to the time period it originally existed in. There’s nothing that feels special about Nexiuz, neither changes that make it feel comfortable on its new home, nor any additional features to warrant a special purchase. Sure, it’s something different from the Halos, CODs and GoWs, but those games all found ways to attract gamers to their specific and unique causes.
I’d give this one a miss.