Developer: Headup Games
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/Win 7; 3.4 GHz Pentium IV or Athlon 64 3600+ or better CPU; 1 GB RAM (2 GB for multiplayer); DirectX 9.0c; 128 GB Nvidia GeForce 7600 or Radeon X-series graphics card or better, supporting Pixel Shader 2.0; DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card; 2 GB hard-drive space
Release date: Available now
As the release date of Diablo III slipped neatly through the fingers of the hungry action-RPG crowd and settled somewhere in 2011, a collective sigh of relief could be heard emanating from the rest of the RPG developers that aren’t Blizzard. This means they have one more year to safely release their games without fear of being eaten alive by the biggest PC game this side of a World of Warcraft/Sims/Duke Nukem crossover. Greed: Black Border wants to be yet another one of those games meant to satiate your appetite, so if this review sounds a little like others I’ve written before, it’s because I’m basically playing the same game.
Greed: Black Border is an action RPG much along the lines of favorites such as Diablo and stand-ins such as Sacred, only here you trade the swords and sorcery for futuristic science fiction. And when you’re talking about the future, the plot must revolve around the discovery of a race-changing element of unlimited possibility that makes possible stuff like interstellar travel and galactic colonization. And, of course, rival factions (or in this case, planets) are all vying for control of it. In the universe of Greed, that element is called “Ikarium,” much like “Hubbardium” or “Unobtanium,” depending on your media intake. Everybody wants it, but it’s hard to find, so everybody tries to kill everybody else to retrieve it.
Your adventure in space begins by choosing one of three classes, which are based on their attack ranges. You’ve got the sniper for distance takeouts, the soldier with his medium-range gatling gun, and a flame-throwing close-up scrapper who can dig right into the action. Each conscript has their own set of passive and active skills to learn along a 30-level development course. Control-wise it’s all pretty standard fare for the genre, although I welcome the option for “free fire” by holding the shift key. This makes combat a whole heck of a lot easier, considering the left mouse button functions as both movement and attack control. It also does well to break the monotony.
Yes, this is a dungeon-crawling, loot-gathering game, and that means there’s a certain degree of grind that you must endure before you get to the good stuff. And you know what that means: a whole lot of repetition. You kill, you search a room for an item, you open the next door, you kill some more, you kill a boss. In between all of that is a fair amount of item collection and leveling up, which only makes the repetition go faster. Beware though, as skill points earned are non-refundable. Once they’re assigned to a slot, that’s it. Any further experimentation will have to be on another character.
One thing’s for sure: it’s not the graphics in Greed that turn me away. It has some pretty spectacular lighting and particle effects, and the system requirements are modest, so just about any system with a halfway decent video card can run it. The music is pretty bland, but if you’re into it there’s a free soundtrack available for download. I personally will stick to the above-average sound effects as my audio accompaniment. That is, if you don’t count the voice acting.
Overall, I’d say it’s probably best to keep away from Greed: Black Border. Not because of its stability (I didn’t crash once), its looks or its price ($20). No, you’d do best to sit this one out because it’s just not a very fun game. Besides, you’re darn tootin’ you’ll see another crawler (or 50) like this riding the clone train from now until the great RPG reckoning of 2011.