Syfy's Television/Video Game Hybrid 'Defiance' Stumbles 

Multimedia project needs help

The worlds of video games, television and movies already overlap and influence each other, whether it's a movie inspired by a popular game or the other way around. A new venture on the Syfy network, however, is skipping the inspiration stage by launching a massively multiplayer online game in conjunction with its scripted show, Defiance.

The game (which carries the same name) was released April 9 and is a third-person shooter featuring an Earth that has been changed due to alien immigration gone wrong.

The story--of both the show and the game--goes like this: Aliens (the Votans) decided to immigrate to Earth, appearing in massive ships known as Arks, which contained mysterious technology. Humanity was reluctant to share the planet and war broke out. Then something happened--something bad (if it was good, would there have been a story?)--and the ships crashed into the planet.

Earth was rapidly terraformed, corrupted and scarred. The Votans' technology got loose and transformed or mutated life, leaving humans who look more like zombies, giant bugs and a host of other ugliness in its wake.

Of course, there were a few people who survived, and some of the aliens that were on-planet decided that fighting for the human race was a pretty good thing as well. So you have aliens and people fighting in somewhat familiar areas for mutual survival and for the planet itself.

Naturally, the Earth needs technology to reclaim itself and there might be technology available all over the planet thanks to an event known as the Arkfall, when, as you might have guessed, chunks of the Arks fell from the sky. A special group of individuals has been tasked with finding the technology, and unsurprisingly, they are known as Ark hunters.

Still following along? Good, because here is where it gets interesting.

The game takes place on the West Coast around the San Francisco area, but the grand experiment is that the game--released by Trion Worlds--is part of a cross-platform story. The way this is supposed to work is that the television show (which takes place in what was St. Louis) and the game will share plots and achievements. Things that happen in the television show will be referenced in the game and vice versa.

This could be the beginning of a nice bit of cooperation between the two mediums, which could be an interesting development in the field. Unfortunately, the game stumbled coming out of the gate and is awaiting a whole laundry list of fixes.

The game features two playable races--humans and Irathients--and four classes: veterans (soldiers), survivalists (snipers), outlaws and machinists. The character creation tool is somewhat sparse and players begin to define how they wish to play by using an implant known as the Environmental Guardian Online, or EGO, a holographic female that pops up to give rewards and quests, as well as update story lines.

The game begins when, aboard a doomed ship, the player crashes to the planet surface, triggering a tutorial. From that point on, the goal is to run missions, team up with other players in cooperative gaming, and collect rewards.

What really makes the game a bit on the rough side is that there is little information available to players, and the font used can be confusing.

As players progress, they collect weapons, shields, armor and can begin to develop their EGO talents. Players also get a vehicle early in the game for moving about the huge maps.

The game basically comes down to running missions, killing all manner of uglies, and powering up to become an uber character. And yes, Defiance features player vs. player.

The Good:

Graphically, Defiance is a solid-looking title. Some of the animations are solid as well. The effects and audio are a great combination.

The Bad:

The game is laggy and disconnecting might mean rebooting the computer. The monsters are a little too familiar--like they have immigrated from other games--and the general game mechanics do not offer much that is new. There have also been disconnects.

The Bottom Line:

If you tune into the television series and it piques your interest in the video game, hold off on leaping into the latter. Wait for some patches and for the development team to work out the kinks that can make this an unplayable experience.

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