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CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars

The Summer of the Arcade is upon us and now more than ever, gamers are flocking to Xbox Live's downloadable service to see what's good. With a remake of TMNT on the way, Marvel vs. Capcom on the horizon, and a slew of other titles such as Magic the Gathering and Worms 2 heating up the charts, there sure is a lot of competition. Add to that the fact that there are just so many games available on the service already, and you have a fiercely competitive environment. With that in mind, is CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars worth your $10?

In case you're unfamiliar with CellFactor, the franchise basically got its start as a tech demo. From there a full-fledged game was released freeware for the PC, and now here we are with a console version of the sequel, Psychokinetic Wars. Unfortunately, even though this is being billed as a real first person shooter, it still feels like little more than a tech demo. Go figure.

When you download CellFactor and fire it up you're greeted with a relatively simplistic menu that gives you only a couple of choices. If you're looking for single player then you'll want to do up some of the Challenges. With 30 in all they won't last you too awful long, but some of the objectives that are thrown your way are rather tricky. Basically you're thrown into a multiplayer map with a bunch of bots and you have to kill them certain ways, with particular weapons, or under extraneous conditions. It's fun enough to kill some time with and it serves as a tutorial for how to play the game and what you can expect to experience online.

Should the day come that you finally get sick of playing against bots or doing some of the challenges then, yes, there are some basic online gameplay types you slog through. The only problem here is that there just aren't that many people who are playing the game. If you get a match going it can be fun and you'll have a decent enough time, but it won't exactly dethrone the experience you'd get from a fuller, more realized retail FPS. If you're okay with that and you don't mind playing with just a couple of people at a time (you'll NEVER get enough to fill a game), then $10 may not seem too shabby.

One thing that serves as a benefit to CellFactor is the fact that there are three different playable character types. There's the Bishop, who is a psych that uses lightning attacks, throws rocks, and can fly. The second character is the Blackops, who is a mix of guns and psych abilities such as teleporting. And finally we have the Guardian, which is a robot of sorts that dual wields guns and runs like nobody's business. The balance between the three is handled pretty well and there's definitely something to be said for experimenting with the different types. In many ways the different abilities and character types reminded me of the Shadowrun shooter that came out a while ago, but short-lived and doomed from the start.

As far as the graphics in CellFactor are concerned the game utilizes the Unreal Engine and pumps out some decent looking visuals, as one would expect. Considering this is an arcade download there is some really nice detail that comes through and it looks as good as a mid-range 360 title. It's not going to blow your socks off, but it's not exactly going to make you shy away least not technically. The design in the game is butt ugly and downright boring with a touch of generic. Everything from the characters to weapons and environment is underwhelming and leaves something to be desired. The audio is fairly mediocre as well with no real outstanding elements. Everything from the disembodied voice that dictates what's going on to the music and sound effects is pretty dull.

With the Summer of the Arcade upon us, it seems kind of silly to willy-nilly spend your hard-earned dollars. Think about what games you're going to get and buy wisely. Otherwise your HD will be full of stuff you hardly ever play. With regards to CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars, I must say that I'm kind of on the fence.

I mean at its core the game is a barebones interpretation of Unreal Tournament, so there's that whole dated sensation. The gameplay is also almost too fast for its own good and a lack of customization, and originality, truly cripple the experience. Then there's the fact that there just aren't that many people playing the game. If the CellFactor had more attention (not that it really deserves it) maybe more gamers would partake in what it has to offer and the community would be more robust. As it stands this is a simplistic shooter with some nice elements, but it's not quite solid enough to warrant buying outright. Check out the trial and see if it's something you'd be interested in. I personally didn't find the experience particularly engaging, but then again I've been spoiled by Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty.