Reviews PlayStation

Extinction Review – The bigger they are, the harder they fall

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Extinction, developed by Iron Galaxy Studios, got our attention back in February, but for the wrong reason, as the game has the highest price on the SA PlayStation Store for a standard edition this year so far coming in at R1129. After viewing some trailers of the game, it was still something I wanted to try out and killing giant ogres looked like a lot of fun, but unfortunately, I was left utterly disappointed by the game.

It is the video game embodiment of that old saying “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” with a big price tag, giant creatures, but little substance.

You play as Avil, the last of the Sentinels, which is basically the world’s chosen one, in this action-adventure title. Your task is simple, protect the world and its inhabitants from the Ravenii, the giant ogres that look just so similar to World of Warcraft’s orcs, as well as their army of Jackals, which are basically smaller orcs.

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The game’s story doesn’t into too much detail about Avil’s past nor does the character get fully realized in any stand-out way. His relationship with his side-kick Xandra does get touched on, as they met at a camp where she was an orphan. Throughout the game, you meet a king who wants you to save his kingdom and his people, all while Xandra does her best to help to create technology in the form of portals to transport civilians to safety.

The story gets told mostly through mission briefings and a few animated sequences. Throughout the game, you see an image of the character you are talking to with voice chat and text included, but I found myself wanting to skip all this chat as the world and its characters were simply not interesting.

I wanted to get to the killing and when I did, it was a great experience at first. Avil is quite the destructive force and can cut through Jackals with ease, but this all boils down to just pressing the attack button over and over again and doing some basic combo moves. There are different types of Jackals in the Ravenii army, some of them fly and you have to use your whip to pull yourself to them, some of them are simple grunts with melee attacks and others spew some nasty range attacks. Then, you also have civilians you have to rescue, scattered throughout the map.

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All you need to do is kill surrounding enemies, then press Triangle on the PS4 and they will be teleported to safety. It is a rinse and repeat affair that you have to do in order to kill the Ravenii in each map. The game’s big draw is killing these giant Ravenii and as mentioned above, you need to kill Jackals and rescue civilians first. The reason: To build up Rune Energy to fill up a bar which allows you to perform a Rune Strike.

At first, seeing a Ravenii as the approach and then start destroying a town looks great and I even felt my hands starting to sweat when I managed to bring down my first few, but then, the realization started to kick in that there is a very repetitive nature to all of this as well. You hold L2 then aim for the part of the body or armour you want to cut off, then release L2 and boom, it's done.

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You can dodge attacks, glide in the air and can perform some great parkour movements on buildings and the Ravenii themselves. However, all it really comes down to is a rinse and repeat affair of targeting specific parts of the Ravenii and taking them down. It was truly a let-down to feel bored while killing 150-foot-tall ogres, something I never thought I would say.

I found one of the best ways to kill one without it causing further destruction to the town was to simply keep cutting off its legs, building up Rune Strike power in the process and also keep it from knocking down buildings. When you’ve cut off a hundred Ravenii legs, jumped on their back, destroyed whatever armour they have and then cut off their head, even that becomes stale. Sure, there are different types of Ravenii, for example, ones who have golden armour (just more locks to cut off in the end) and ones who use weapons like a club and perform devastating sweeping attacks.

Their limbs also regenerate, so I found myself cutting off that same leg over and over as I smashed all their armour to bits, climb up their back, dodge an attack as they try to swat me off and then behead them.

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That’s it, that’s all of what Extinction offers in terms of gameplay.

After each mission, you also unlock and upgrade some skills, but the skill tree is barebones, to say the least. You upgrade your health and unlock a few combo points, Rune Energy benefits and most importantly, an increased mini-map radar which allows civilians to show up from a further distance. You unlock these skills with XP earned after each mission, even if you fail a mission, or even when you play in one of the other two modes outside of the campaign.

There is a skirmish mode, with randomly generated levels and Ravenii, which is basically just a horde mode which tasks you with killing as many Ravenii before a town is destroyed. Then, there are daily quests, also randomly generated, which tasks you with killing a certain number of Ravenii and Jackals, or rescuing civilians. Both of these modes have an online leaderboard so you can compare your success to that of others. Again, it is basically the same gameplay as that of the campaign, which only took me about 10 hours to complete by the way.

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The one thing apart from dismembering Ravenii for the first few hours, that I do like about the game is its graphical style. The cartoonish graphics and destructible environments are enjoyable to look at, even though it can be a bit rough around the edges at times, with enemies clipping into walls as an example. Playing on my PS4 Pro, I was also quite disappointed to see no enhancements or graphics modes available and even those on the Xbox One X get the same experience as base consoles.

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With that being said, the game does run smoothly and I experienced no noticeable frame-rate issues or game-breaking glitches. Even so, it would have been really nice to get that sharper image quality a 4K mode could provide. Mechanically, there are some issues as well, as I experienced difficulties with the parkour just failing at some points and the camera let me down several times throughout the experience as well.

The Verdict – A giant mess

Extinction falls flat in multiple ways, from its repetitiveness to its barebones skill tree and even in terms of a story that I simply didn’t care for that much. The characters are bland and even if you look past the way the story is told via boxes of dialogue and some less-than-ideal voice acting, it just doesn’t hold up well enough.

The game did deliver some satisfying moments and the movement is nice (apart from some issues that need to be sorted out), but even cutting a giant ogre’s head becomes tiresome after a while. When things did get difficult, Extinction managed to keep me on the edge of my seat for a few moments, especially when you are close to failing a mission but just about complete it as the last Ravenii falls.

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In the end, Extinction just isn’t worth the asking price of a whopping R1129 for a standard edition. The game lacks depth, diversity and a good story to keep things together. Unfortunately, I simply can’t recommend Extinction at the asking price, especially since there is even a Season Pass for R239 that you can purchase separately as well.

This review was based on a review code of the game provided to us by Maximum Games.

Available On: PS4, Xbox One and PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 10 April 2018 | RRP: R1129  

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