Do you like first-person shooters? Do you like giant mecha? DO YOU LIKE DINOSAURS? Then Orion: Dino Horde may just be for you.
Orion: Dino Horde has gotten some positively scathing reviews throughout the web. But, seeing as how I am such a sucker for all things scaly, I decided that I would give it a shot. Well, let us just get right into it and start with looks before diving into gameplay.
Everything in Orion is a little…bland. That isn’t to say that the game is rendered poorly, but it all just looks generic. Most of the dinosaurs and vehicles look good, for what they are worth, but some of the guns have not received as gracious a treatment. For example, the shotgun looks more like a rifle and has an ugly ammo counter on it that just looks tacky. Just saying, if I am playing a shooter and need to be looking at guns all day I want them to look at least decent.
The dinosaur models look just fine, but that isn’t the problem with them. They are often poorly animated. For velociraptors and “compies,” the jump attack just looks silly, and the bite animation is more a head twitch than a vicious attack. Compies are a standard inclusion in many dinosaur games since “The Lost World” and are not unwelcome, but their tiny size and speed makes them difficult to see, let alone aim at. Flying enemies come in two flavors of pterosaur that are equally frustrating to hit do to their small size and the frustratingly poor aiming quality of most guns. Larger dinosaurs are equally lacking in animation that is disappointing but by the time you get to them you shouldn’t be surprised. That said, they do look good. The models are intimidating and make for decent eye candy even with the terrible animation.
The vehicles are frustrating to drive yet are grossly overpowered. Most dinosaurs, baring the large ones, you encounter can just be killed by running them over. The rest will immediately destroy you vehicle for some unspecified reason. Taking even less appeal from the vehicles is the fact that many of them are ripped directly from other games with little or no effort put in to differentiate them. The truck and rocket bike are taken straight from the Halo franchise. The tank is near impossible to steer, and the mecha almost feels out of place.
There are several modes available to play in Orion: Dino Horde and they all fit the tropes one would expect from a first-person shooter. Only in some modes you actually get to play as all the dinosaurs you normally fight. This part is pretty cool. You play as the dinosaurs in the third person, though they still control pretty poorly. Some of the gems in this mode are playing as a t-rex, raptor, and spinosaur. You can even be a deinosuchus (40ft long crocodile), which is pretty rad. But hey, how many games can you actually play as a dinosaur?…A few, but that’s asking me and I probably own all of them. The dinosaur game modes are similar to other modes like capture the flag (but with eggs) or deathmatch.
The music is unimpressive, but not terrible. Like much of the game, it exudes such strong “meh” that you hardly even notice it or just turn it off in favor of something more appropriate. Something like hardcore metal.
Now as to general gameplay, Orion delivers pretty standard shooter fair except that it is pretty hard to aim with many guns. That is a huge problem when you are trying to make a SHOOTER, but hey they spent all that time they could have been using to improve their shooting system adding unnecessary vehicles.
There are three playable human classes when you are not a dinosaur (but why would you?): Assault, Support, and Recon. Assault gives you access to a jetpack because…why not. Just go for it. Soar to your hearts content with the pteranodons and love life friend! And by that I mean crash and burn and lose all your life because this game controls so poorly. Actually, I used this class more than any because you can jet up to a ledge most dinosaurs cant reach and simply snipe them as their poor AI tries to figure out what witchcraft you have wrought. The support class gives you a healing gun that is cool I suppose if you want to play the support role. The recon class gives a moment or two of invisibility that is also pretty handy though still not as useful and the near total immunity of sitting on a ledge where only the occasional pterosaur can hit you.
I am pretty hard on this game, but despite all the flack I am giving it I still like it for some reason. It is just fun to play in its quirky way. I almost feel like it is one of those games that is so bad it becomes good. At the same time, I feel like the studio behind it might be able to polish it to a degree that it becomes a decent title once the next build comes out in the next few months. It does have potential. And whats more, you can usually find Orion super cheap on Steam. I picked my copy up for a dollar, and I can say that it was worth picking it up to mess around and see what people were talking about.
All in all, I can’t rightly give this game a good score. Maybe if they update the physics and controls, I would feel better about it, but right now the game is still too bad for a solid recommendation unless you are really itching to play as dinosaurs. My final say on Orion: Dino Horde gets 4.5 raptors out of 10, but if you like big scaly things as much as me you might want to add an extra point for flavor.
That’s it from me, Nation. Check back soon for more news and reviews.