When it comes to real conflicts transposed into a videogame key, the mind tends to think above all of the Second World War. Although the popularity of these historical reenactments has waned over the years, it is undeniable that this theater of war has ensnared the imagination of many developers, who have tried to tell these clashes in dozens of different ways.
World War I Isonzo
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, XONE, XSX Genre: Shooter Release Date: September 13, 2022 Developer: BlackMill Games Distributor: BlackMill Games
Although less popular, the First World War also received some videogame adaptations. Surely the most famous AAA title dedicated to this period was Battlefield 1, but for some years now the team BlackMill games is trying to give new luster to this dramatic piece of history, with a series of titles dedicated to different scenarios of the conflict.
So, after taking us to Verdun and Tannenberg, the developers decided this time to take us to the Italian front with Isonzotitle available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One And PC.
We have played it for you and are ready to give you our verdict.
Climbing the border
From a point of view technicianIsonzo shows rather mixed results. The immediate glance is pretty good, also thanks to the locations present in the game, which are particularly evocative. The game clearly can’t keep up with AAA productions, but it still cuts a fine figure.
The problem is that this visual rendering has been achieved by coming down to numerous compromises, too on PlayStation 5 (version we tested). The most conspicuous is a nuisance tearing effectwhich shows up practically every time the camera moves; it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game, but it’s really impossible not to notice.
The rendering of the settings is good, but there are several technical problems.
Secondly, there are numerous visual effects which simply do not measure up to the rest: above all, the muzzle flashes of weapons; in addition to this, we have noticed numerous bugs in the course of our games, but we hope they can be fixed with future patches.
To deserve an honorable mention is instead theaccuracy with which the details of the battles were reconstructed. From the uniforms of the soldiers to the locations, from the making of the weapons to the sounds of the shots – everything has been recreated almost to perfectionto return an authentic experience of the theater of war chosen by the developers.
Sure, we would have liked more variety in the selection of maps chosen for the game (because visually they really tend to look a lot alike), but it’s still worth noting the time that developers spend conducting field research.
If you’re familiar with the WW1 series, you probably don’t need great introductions to feel at home with Isonzo. If, on the other hand, you have never played a title in the series (you can retrieve the chapter dedicated to Verdun on Amazon), know that it is Realistic multiplayer FPSwho intend to recreate as faithfully as possible the war scenario from which they take inspiration.
If you’re looking for a single-player campaign in an FPS, you can skip this review: Isonzo does not include any story modesand the only option to play alone is to simply clash with bots controlled by artificial intelligence.
The heart of the game is therefore the multiplayer, with his only mode available: it is basically an objective mode, in which we will have to defend or conquer positions in six different maps.
We will be able to choose the faction to be part of at the beginning of the game.
Surely the variety of options is not the game’s strong point: from the start, this point made us turn up our noses a bit, but we went on to try to understand how well the game is able to stand up based on only one type of confrontation. After all, there are some titles that do, so all is not lost.
The game basically it is quite simple, what you would expect from any FPS, without any particular frills. As we told you, Isonzo aim for realismso don’t expect to have particularly fancy weapons or unlikely kill rewards. In battle, it will be you and your weapons. And your companions, of course.
The movement of the character reflects the choice of the developers: you will be rather slowyour movements will be cumbersome. It might be hard to get used to for those from other experiences, but this control system forces you to a more reasoned approach to the battlefieldbecause you can’t just run through the bullets hoping to get away with it.
Even because death comes fast enough; just as if you were on a real battlefield, a single well-placed shot could be enough to knock you to the ground, with no possibility of appeal. Of course, there will also be times when you will be injured and your health will regenerate, but this is one of the few licenses that Isonzo will grant you.
Even when you are shooting you will have to be extremely careful: the reloading of the shots is slow, so any projectile you explode could also be the last, should you miss the target and unfortunately reveal your position.
There are several roles available, each with its own peculiarities.
During the fight, in addition to choosing the faction to side with, you can also choose the role to play. Your paraphernalia will change accordingly, and so will your abilities. We are not talking about fictitious bonuses to your characteristics, but about actions well placed in the historical context.
For example, the engineer can place sandbags or machine guns on the field, while the officer can signal enemy settlement areas and then call in air reinforcements – and so on.
Depending on the choice you make, therefore, you will have a slightly different role to play on the battlefield. If this is removed, however, the team’s goal will always be the same: to defend or conquer positions.
As we have told you, therefore, Isonzo is a ‘slower experience compared to other FPS on the market, while essentially sharing a gameplay identical to that of other titles. However, in addition to the rhythm, another element of distinction lies in the design of the maps.
Having chosen the Italian war theaterand in particular the mountains, the maps often and willingly develop vertically. Although it may seem like a secondary element, this peculiar conformation of the terrain leads the battles to unfold in a different way, because you will often find yourself exploiting (or seeing used against you) the protections offered by the heights.
So far, Isonzo could be a good FPS: it lacks particular creative flashes, but it has some changes on the theme that could make it interesting for fans.
The problem is that not everything works as it should. Take, for example, the desire to make the game as realistic as possible. This also results in getting caught in barbed wire, for example. It would also be an interesting idea, were it not that the character is practically immobilized by this obstacle, as if he were suddenly in a puddle of quick-setting concrete.
Or again, the bullets are supposed to be lethal, but over and over again we have seen blatantly successful shots not registering any effect on the target, perhaps even several times in a row. This is particularly annoying also given the long reload times of the weapons – realistic, of course, but in this context the situation also quickly becomes frustrating.
And then there are the respawn timeswhich are much, too long. Perhaps the intention was to give value to the defeat by preventing an immediate return, but this is too much. Considering the length of the matches (which easily vary between 20 and 60 minutes) and the ease with which it is possible to die, this too gives rise to a deadly combo, but for the wrong reasons.
Finally, there is the elephant in the room, the one we named at the beginning: only one game mode and six maps available (which are also a little too similar to each other, if we wanted to be honest). It goes without saying that after a few hours of play you have already seen everything there is to seeand considering that Isonzo does not offer unique or particularly successful gameplay compared to the competition, there is also the desire to move to other shores.
Summing up, Isonzo manages to reach the sufficiency, but it must be specified that it will be a very specific audience to derive fun from the game, namely that segment of the audience passionate about multiplayer FPS, who love realistic historical reconstructions and who appreciate this historical period (if you are part of it, you can grab the physical edition through Amazon).
The work itself, in fact, only partially manages to bring a fresh breath to the crowded panorama of online shooters, remaining a bit mired between the barbed wire and the mud of the trench into which it is launched.
Version reviewed: PS5