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Some love to create their environment from scratch, others would rather reduce it to dust. And GhostShark Games’ Blockstorm is the love child of the two. Set in a voxel world, this first-person player versus player shooter pits players against each other in a destructible arena.

Available in early access, Blockstorm outshines other first-person shooters in its customisability. The shooter offers an unprecedented amount of customisation options when it comes to maps and characters. Players are invited to forge their own characters and maps – building anything they can imagine from scratch before taking to the battlefield. The destroyable terrain makes for some interesting mechanics, giving Blockstorm a tactical spin.

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An exclusively multiplayer game, Blockstorm lacks any storyline or single player mode, which could deter some gamers, especially at a time when its player base is still on the low side.

Before every match, players pick their character – choosing from default, custom or downloadable ones. The next step is the choice of weapon – one from each of three categories. The choice of weapons doesn’t just depend on fire-power, but players also have to keep tabs on their weight, which affects the player’s speed. The player also takes into the battlefield a shovel, a knife and cubes.

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In essence, Blockstorm plays just like most other first-person shooters, yet it gives players space to roam and be creative. Players can choose to play three different game modes – Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Assault – with most matches lasting ten minutes. Unfortunately, with the game’s player base still in its infancy, not all modes have players at all times. Thankfully, creating a new match is fairly easy, and playing with friends is really gratifying.

Blockstorm, GhostShark Games’ first game, plays and feels great. In-game, players are forced to think on the go as the game gives a whole new meaning to blowing one’s cover. Forget the times when you used to duck behind a building to take cover – anything making up the map can be destroyed… and probably will. You can always create your own shelter to make do, and if that’s not your cup of tea, you can build a tower to get a strategic advantage over your foes.

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The game uses an intelligent system which sees trees, suspended objects and even buildings collapse once their base is destroyed. In spite of the alluring scent about it, Blockstorm falls short when this is used by the player to kill an opponent. In fact when the player falls a long distance, courtesy of the ground beneath him collapsing, it is considered as suicide, and the assailant is left without credit. When it comes to communication, Blockstorm offers text-based chat, yet still lacks any voice chat capabilities. On a smaller scale, although still tedious, the weapon preferences aren’t saved in-between matches, and the player has to reconfigure his choices before every single match.

Graphically, the game looks similar to other voxel-based games. The game was inspired by Minecraft, as is self-proclaimed by the developers, and players won’t have any adapting to do if they have previous experience with similar graphical styles.

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The map editor offers a vast array of textures, allowing players to create anything from lush forests to snowy mountains, although I expect more textures to become available in the future. Understandably, the game is still lacking in maps, yet the editor is a handy tool which compensates for this shortfall.

Similarly, the character editor is an intuitive tool which allows players to design their own, unique avatar. So far textures aren’t allowed, yet the colours on their own are enough to design any character you can imagine. For those who find it time-consuming or tedious, they can opt for one of a wide array of default characters.

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Blockstorm is still lacking in the music and sound department. The game features only one track, and the in-game sounds are pretty much what you’d expect from a first-person shooter. The absence of ambient sounds sticks out like a sore thumb and silence is only broken by gunshots and footsteps. One interesting detail involving sound is that players can hear others’ footsteps. Walking minimizes the sound, which makes even moving a strategic task.

Blockstorm is a game which does what other first-person shooters do, yet it prides some brilliant facets. Whilst still in early access, it carries promise of great things to come. Still well under development, Blockstorm falls short with its limited player base currently, however, with promising and entertaining gameplay and a world of customisation at the players’ fingers, it’s only a matter of time until that changes.

Peview of Blockstorm version 0.9

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