Raze is a 2D action shooter that pits a player’s fast thinking, reflexes, and aiming skills against relentlessly aggressive enemy AI (well, depending on the game’s settings anyway). There’s a wide range of weapons to choose from (or pick up in the middle of battle to be more precise about it), and the stages are creatively well designed and large enough to make firefights a massive shootout or a matter of close quarters dodging and shooting. Visually, Raze looks pretty old and dated, but thanks to its’ great gameplay, it still makes for a good game to play anytime.
The first Raze game was not the most refined or ideal 2D shooter, but it is a lot of fun to play, and that is exactly why it is still worth checking out despite the fact that it has been a long time since it was released or the more important fact that it already has 2 newer and better sequels already available. Raze is all about free flowing shooting action – you pick up a gun, find enemy targets, and shoot away – all while trying to not get shot down yourself. Straightforward, fun, and pretty addictive; and these three are always a good combo to have in any game.
Headshots Always Count
The game is easy to play and understand. You use directional controls to move around, crouch, and jump. The mouse is used to aim your weapon and the mouse button serves as your trigger. So yes, it is a lot like an FPS game, except that the game is in 2D instead of 3D. The idea is to quickly dispatch enemies and take as little damage as possible. To make the game even more interesting, spawn points are randomized (for non- story campaign modes anyway), and an assortment of item pickups are available (new weapons, health, etc).
Of course, learning the gameplay mechanics is a completely different thing from mastering it. Expect to get shot at and killed by the enemy team a lot early on. The good thing is that it never feels frustrating, as new players can still pull off a victory by playing carefully. And the slow progress to getting better feels more satisfying as you get to see your kill count rise up as you play.
The Advantages of Being an Old Game
Visually, the art for Raze needs a lot of work and polishing (as of Raze 3, the art style has been refined, but is still a bit crude in many ways). Though that is not such a bad thing as the animations are still good (it is easy to understand what the enemy is doing), and figuring out a stage’s paths is not confusing at all. The best part is that this game will run easily on most modern netbooks – even the ones with slightly lower specs. Unlike Raze 2 and 3, the hardware requirements needed to run Raze are not too high – making it very accessible to players with lower – spec netbooks.
Plenty of Things to Do
The campaign mode is pretty long – and as you progress through it, quite challenging too. That along already promises a lot of playtime hours (give it about two whole afternoons to finish). On top of that, you also have the non- story battles to try out. The enemy AI is actually quite refined and well versed with the different weapons of the game. So do not expect that repeating tactics will keep you winning. Try out different weapons and approaches to stay on top.
In the End…
The only real drawback to Raze is that it is an old game and that players might prefer the more updated sequels like Raze 2. Add in the fact that the narrative is nothing much (other than being a pretty long read), and there really is not that much incentive to play this much older game. What Raze has however, is an accessibility factor not present in its’ sequels, and that is enough to make it worth keeping on your list of quick games to play around with (especially when you are sitting in front of a computer that’s pretty slow).
Since originally writing this review we can now announce that Raze 3 is out and is available to play for free online. It features even more explosive shooting game play and premium campaigns, check it out now.