Graphics:
8.0
Gameplay:
8.2
Sound:
8.7
Control:
8.5
Replay Value:
8.0
Online Gameplay:
8.4
Overall Rating:
8.3
Publisher:
2K Games
Developer:
Turtle Rock Studios
Number Of Players:
1-4
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
February 9, 2015


I grew up with shooters. There I was, silly grin plastered on my face, blasting those pig baddies in Duke Nukem and having a grand ol’ time. I still remember the early days of Wolfenstein 3D and I distinctly recall each new evolution, from the days of Unreal vs. Quake (pick a side!) to the emergence of groundbreaking franchises like Half-Life and Call of Duty . I’ve seen variations on the standard FPS theme, including great RPGs that opted to fuse the two genres ( Deus Ex comes readily to mind). I’ve seen the highs and lows, the successes and the failures, and the ensuing stagnation.

As such, I’ve been one of many who have called out developers to do more with the aging genre. The good news is that such an outcry appears to have had an impact; last year’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare featured inspired freshness, for example, despite maintaining the familiar core. Then comes Turtle Rock Studios and the refreshing, entertaining Evolve , which, while not exactly revolutionary, still provides gamers with a new perspective. It’s a 4-on-1 battle that emphasizes teamwork, timing and strategy. The lone wolf dies fast. The rash and the brash typically die terrible deaths. This is an action game with a functioning brain and that I will always support.

The visual dynamic in Evolve is pretty special. Designed specifically for new consoles and PC, the developers could take that all-important step and add another layer of polish and gloss. But beyond the great detail found in each of the Monsters, and beyond the stellar effects, there’s an atmospheric element that plays into the mentality of the hunt. It’s always there, ratcheting up the anticipation and fun factor. This atmosphere is what makes the game so engaging, and it’s due in part to fantastic design and world creation. I still say some of the environments are just too dark (devs have a fascination with the dark and gritty these days) but otherwise, this is a sound, striking graphical presentation.

The sound is even better, thanks to a top-notch soundtrack, a bevy of invigorating and often creepy effects, and solid voice performances. Of course, the latter disappears when you’re playing Evolve with friends, which isn’t a bad thing, as the AI characters tend to repeat themselves too often. The music cements the experience as a remarkably tense affair, and the effects take center-stage when facing down one of those mammoth beasts. It’s interesting because what you see and hear changes significantly depending on whether you choose the Monster or one of the Hunters. This leads me to the gameplay segment, which hinges on such variety throughout the experience.

On the surface, the game is straightforward: Four Hunters are tasked with taking down a super challenging Monster; human players can step into one of the four Hunter roles, or they can assume the role of the massive Monster. But this concept amounts to so much more. You would anticipate that each Hunter has a distinct set of abilities, and his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. You’d also expect – or hope – that each Monster would be radically different, allowing for drastic alterations in each side’s tactics. But beyond that, you might not realize the added depth and diversity that makes Evolve a pulse-pounding action extravaganza that rewards the quick-thinking strategist.