Have you ever planned a party –gone the whole nine yards with food, drink, entertainment, and more– and no one showed up because you forgot to send the invitations? That’s what WarPath is like. It’s a bare-bones but completely functional Unreal Tournament 2004 clone that’s plenty fun for what it does, but doesn’t do you much good when there’s no one online to play it with. We could have stomached the practically non-existent community had the offline play featured halfway decent AI, but the brain-dead bots don’t provide much challenge. It’s too bad, because WarPath is good fun when running on all cylinders.
Digital Extremes did throw in a perfunctory single-player mode, but it’s just a series of maps in one of the four available game types. You choose to play as the Ohm, Kovos or Coalition, but it doesn’t really matter which, since they play exactly the same. They’re all vying for world domination, and your role is to shoot everyone in medium-sized industrial maps while seizing flags and control points. Aren’t all planets captured in this manner? In any case, this mode is presented on a tactical grid on which each cell represents a battle. To win the war, you win every battle on the grid.
It isn’t hard to do, since the bot AI is atrocious. There are multiple levels of difficulty, but they range from dumb to dumber, so don’t be surprised if computer opponents just stand there as you shoot them. Their aiming gets better the higher the difficulty, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to breeze through the single-player in a few hours. One successful method involves following bots while shooting at their backs. They usually won’t return fire, particularly when carrying a flag. On the highest level, things fall into place a bit better, at least to the point where you sense some challenge, but veteran combatants should have no trouble mowing their enemies down.
But why quibble about that? WarPath is a multiplayer shooter at its core, and in that respect, it does a fine job with its limited goals. There are only four game types: deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and front line assault. Front line assault owes a debt to onslaught mode from UT2K4, and involves capturing control points on the map and ultimately attacking the opposing team’s base. The action feels very much like UT as well: movement is fast and smooth, and jumps are exaggerated, so it’s both a camper’s bane and a bunny-hopper’s paradise.
Unlike other shooters, in which skill is the great equalizer, WarPath attempts to cater to individual style by limiting players to two weapons per match. Even ammo packs are just generic packs that replenish whatever weapon you happen to be wielding. The guns feel good and hefty, though, even if they’re completely ripped off from every sci-fi FPS that’s come before. To make them more appealing, you can enhance your weapons with Combat Augmentation Modules, which grant some added firepower and interesting secondary fire modes.