Game Review: Miner Wars Arena
I’ve been keeping an eye on the Miner Wars franchise for quite some while. I’m waiting for the main attraction, Miner Wars 2081, and not too long ago, I stumbled upon a little pre-release spinoff game called Miner Wars Arena. Miner Wars Arena is a top-down arena-based vehicular combat game that allows you to dig through right through the arena that you’re fighting in.
Gameplay is pretty easy to get a hand on. Piloting your little death machine/mining vehicle, you dig around the arena looking for powerups hidden in the rocks, all the while trying not to get blown up by the competition. It’s a delicate balance, and it calls for a bit of strategy. Will you dig out a massive area and duke it out there? Will you create a labyrinth full of mines and lead your enemies to their downfall? Will you lure two enemies from opposing teams to fight against each other and then pick off the weakened surviving ship? The game does call for a surprising amount of thought at times, which I appreciate.
The game has a few different modes- there’s a skirmish, which pits your ship against a few others, along with a mode known as “Tournament”, which is essentially a fifteen level campaign. There’s a nice variety of levels there that provide a pretty good set of challenges, and I have to say that it’s pretty well rounded overall.
Aesthetically, I thought the game was alright- I thought that it was pretty well presented but it also suffered from some flaws in some areas. While the menus and such are both stylish and easy to navigate, the game’s graphics look a fair bit… Dated. Honestly, they seem to be on par with a Gamecube title, and most of the textures seem kind of blurry. There’s three different kinds of ships, and each looks pretty unique and is decently put together, but it’s nothing that blows the mind. For the most part, the game’s visuals are pretty mundane- I don’t think they’re all that bad, just, they’re average.
The music wasn’t particularly memorable in my opinion. It was just alright, though I thought that the violin shrieks upon defeat were a nice touch. Something that annoyed me was the game’s voice acting. After you take down an enemy ship, you’ll hear “Who’s the boss?” It’s kind of cool the first two times, then it makes you want to invert your own eardrums and leap from an airplane into swimming pool full of broken glass. It’s so irritating to hear every five seconds- it takes away from the game’s character rather than adding to it. Think carefully: You’re digging, deep underground in an asteroid in outer space in a gritty version of the future. You notice an enemy ship just ahead of you, and with the last of your energy you fire your laser. “Who’s the boss?” See the problem? If you play this, do yourself a favor and start up your own music in the background. Might I recommend Audiomachine?
I have to say that there were a couple glitches- one of them caused my ship’s energy to suddenly start depleting after I left the spawn point (a major annoyance). While it didn’t happen too often, it ruined the game when it did. Hopefully this issue will be patched.
Overall, Miner Wars Arena is a pretty decent game. While it’s certainly not perfect (and it doesn’t feel particularly special), it’s still plenty of fun. I was a little disappointed because from what I know about the Miner Wars universe, there’s actually a pretty rich and interesting backstory behind everything, and pretty much none of it is present in this game. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a good, simple way to spend a few hours, I can definitely say that it’s worth giving a shot to. If you’re looking for something a bit bigger, however, you can probably pass this on for something a little more lasting. Still, it’s better than some other vehicular combat titles we’ve seen.