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Despite the newness, Korean developer Dream Execution released War Rock in South Korea in 2004 well before Battlefield 2's 2005 release. Dream Execution sold the international rights (USA and Europe) to K2 Networks. Between K2 Networks' partnerships with developers like Webzen (who's working on the hotly anticipated Xbox 360/PC MMOFPS Huxley) and its other titles (Knights Online, MU Online and Golf King), they are jockeying into a position to compete with one of largest Asian MMO publishers" wait for it" ever! For those into MMOs you probably know whom, for the rest: NC Soft.
War Rock in Korean is roughly translated "We Lock" (thanks Google Translate!). I'm sure the actual meaning is different. Even so "we" resembles a group of people while "lock" sounds like "lock n load"! My translation, "Hoorah! Let's kick some butt!" This about sums up what War Rock is.
I can recall a handful of games where beta clients played smoothly; Warcraft III and Asheron's Call 1 come to mind. I can add War Rock to the list.
It's fast paced. The jump-into-the-thick-of-it action is addictive. The inclusive melee and capture-the-flag goals are fun. Moreover the teamwork skills of players in the closed beta also greatly contributed to a largely enjoyable experience.
It's probably safe to assume that Dream Execution used Battlefield 1942 as a template. Truth is War Rock feels like Battlefield light. You have similar maps, classes, and goals, without all the extra fluff such as side quests and team-groups ala Battlefield 2. Despite these missing components War Rock feels fresh. It's a nice salad whose ingredients include a dash of Battlefield's intensity, a sprinkle of Battlefield's spirit, tossed on a bed of quick intense action.
There are five classes in War Rock. Military Engineers repair, Medics heal, sniping Scouts, close range Combatants, and Heavy Weapon Units for tank defense. Each is equipped with a solid array of weaponry. With these five classes you are given the freedom to take the fight to the enemy on land, sea and air. In these three areas War Rock also lets you drive, fly and navigate sea crafts. Battlefield veterans will be happy to know that controls are similar.
Sadly, and for the moment, water and aircraft selections are meager. However the variety of land vehicles is where War Rock especially shines.
You have supportive Wiesel and Gepard tanks. There is also the stout K1A1 battletank. This kick-ass-take-names tank was modeled after those used in the Korean army. Armament wise the K1A1 can hold about 250 machine gun rounds and 25 mortar shells. With these numbers you can take the fight to the enemy and hold yourself on the line for a spell.
Beyond the tanks you also have standard covered truck and Humvee transports. But the welcomed surprise was the agile and swift Motorcycle. I imagine this simple vehicle will become the choice for many Scouts. Between the cycle and the back roads Scouts will truly become hard, covert targets.
Considering 2006 is the year of nextgen systems both in the console and PC (Windows Vista) arenas it is nice that War Rock doesn't require upgrading. War Rock performed beautifully on my Pentium 4 2 GHz, 1.5 GB DDRRAM, Radeon X700 test machine. Amazingly in addition to not killing your system the Jindo 3D Engine still manages to support all the latest physics such as rag-doll action, smoke/explosion effects, realistic gravity, and so on. I think this is War Rock's gleaming aspect. For those that haven't been able to fully enjoy Battlefield 2 due to low-end computer suckage War Rock will deliver the goods on computers built within this decade. Yes you heard right "six" years (we're talking Quake 3 Arena days).
So with all this praise heaped on War Rock you may be wondering if there are negatives. Yes there are. The most prominent is the inclusion of Punk Buster.
I've never personally been the victim of a Punk Buster ban but I've felt the pain of those who have suffered through it. If you aren't familiar with Punk Buster, in essence the service bans players from games it monitors for cheating. Beyond an IP ban it also bans your Processor's identification number (CPU ID). Outcome: if you were banned in Quake 3 Arena back in 1999, in principle, you would still be banned from playing War Rock seven years later. There is a huge divide between players for and against this service. Regardless K2 Networks is hiring Punk Buster to be their monitoring service. If you are banned and adamant about playing War Rock, replacing your computer and IP address are your only solutions.
Besides the hugely controversial Punk Buster service I've encountered a few small balance issues. Odd spawn markers placements come to mind. Some map objective points seem too close together. Not including a ticket system to speed up victories doesn't make much sense.
One of the biggest confusions about War Rock is this game classification as an MMOFPS. Besides the standard match making system other non-MMO shooters have, War Rock isn't exactly "massively multiplayer." Lastly there's pricing. I couldn't find this information on the publisher, developer or official game sites. Knowing the estimated subscription and client costs would be advantageous.
In the end though War Rock is a solid, fun title that will appeal to shooter fans once it goes gold. The fact the game doesn't require a super-fast nextgen computer is icing on the cake!
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