If a developer makes a decent, multiplayer-focused first-person shooter but no one is there to play it, does it deserve to be bought? Ponder this piece of Zen as we examine Warpath, a new, budget-priced FPS from developer Digital Extremes. Warpath is, for all intents and purposes, an Unreal Tournament knockoff that looks and feels pretty similar to Digital Extremes' last game, Pariah. Purely taken as a multiplayer shooter, Warpath has its qualities; but those qualities might be difficult to grasp considering that just about nobody is playing this game online, days after its retail release. And as far as its single-player experience goes, it has one, and that's about all you can say for it.
The premise of Warpath is that three warring races are battling it out for supremacy on a distant world. There's the human coalition, a group of futuristic supersoldiers decked out in what looks like a blue version of the Master Chief's suit from a certain other first-person shooter that one might argue Pariah was an awful lot like; the Kovos, a group of mechanical creatures that look like fatter versions of the Cylons from the old Battlestar Galactica series, but with weird Matrix code running down their faces; and the Ohm, who are basically Star Trek's Borg, but without that whole collective consciousness deal. Each race has a couple of unique weapons, but once you play through and unlock all the available guns, effectively there is no difference between factions, save for aesthetics.
Warpath includes deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and front line assault modes. The first three are pretty self-explanatory. Front line assault mode places a few capture points around a map, and requires at least one member from each team to stand in those points until a meter fills up and designates it as captured. Once a team has captured all the capture points on a map, they can then gain access to the opposing team's base and blow up its generator to take the round.
The four modes of play work well enough in Warpath, though the lack of unique or interesting weapons, cramped maps, and largely unnecessary vehicles do put a damper on things. The weapons' greatest fault is that they just don't have much feel to them, nor do they seem especially well balanced. The rocket launcher and shotgun are by far the most useful, whereas guns like the sniper rifle-esque javelin and grenade launcher aren't very effective over the course of a match. Of course, it's good to have at least one person using at least one of these two weapons on your team, but playing as that person isn't much fun, because you tend to get shot in the face a lot more than those wielding a shotgun or rocket launcher.
The maps in the game are almost exclusively indoor, with a few outdoor sections in some. Most of them are composed of narrow corridors, scattered elevators, and a few larger, open areas where bigger groups of combatants tend to congregate. Purely for the purposes of on-foot combat, the maps serve the game pretty well. There's just enough room to maneuver, though there are usually a couple of decent hiding spots and vantage points, and plenty of ammo and armor power-ups. The problems start to mount, however, when vehicles get tossed into the mix. No map in the game appears properly built toward vehicle usage. There's just not enough room to move them around properly, so what you typically end up with is a situation in which both sides have a couple of people in a vehicle, travel to the same spot, kind of get stuck there, shoot each other until one or both of the vehicles explode, and that's that.