ShootMania is the next installment from Nadeo, being published by Ubisoft. ManiaPlanet is the platform to which all Mania games can be updated and launched from. So you can play ShootMania and/or TrackMania from it. Eventually QuestMania will be part of the complete package.
I got access to the Alpha a few weeks ago, and I had started writing this as just an Alpha impression. It was largely the same functionality and graphics-wise, except it was standalone launcher and featured default servers from Nadeo. There were very little customization to be found, whether in modes, or maps. The only mode I came across during that time was Battle.
Now that the Beta has begun, I will go into more detail about the current version of the game…
The game at first is fast and furious, reminiscent of the old Unreal Tournament games. All modes are essentially competitive, but ShootMania is designed to both be a league game as well as able to be approached by casual players. There’s really only 7 controls for the game. Directional keys, jump, interaction button, and shooting. While jumping, you have different properties depending on location. If you tap spacebar or right-mouse button to jump, it’ll be a simple hop. If you hold it, once you land you will sprint. If you jump mid-air, it’ll become a glide. When in underground sections, you will just sprint – no jumping.
There are only three weapon types in the game. They are determined by the mode being played. You’ll play using a slow, plasma-ball gun, railgun, and a grenade launcher for underground areas. Ammo is unlimited but weapons are limited by use and must be given time to recharge. Health is governed by a hit system, which does not recharge. Most modes you can get hit twice and you’re dead. Other modes increase or decrease the amount of hits you can take.
There’s quite a few multiplayer modes that make things interesting and always keep you moving. Joust features 1v1 queued battles which are traditional MLG-inspired matches while you have a crowd of spectators judging each individual action until one person remains. Elite sends one man in with a railgun against 3 competitors for elimination. Should he kill them, he captures a tower and points for the team. Royal mode is all about capturing towers and getting the highest percentage. Melee is just a free-for-all deathmatch style, first to 25 frags gets the kill. Battle is essentially Team Deathmatch. The most creative and fun modes are the ones Nadeo designed and seem to have better balance and require strategy. Coming into Royal, Melee, or Battle seems slightly unbalanced or luck-based rather than skill-based.
The game runs on the same engine that has powered TrackMania² Canyon, and performs great, maintaining a solid 60fps. For better or worse, the menu system is the same as TrackMania² and is slightly cumbersome. It’s something you can get over in time.
Want to join in on the ShootMania Beta?
- Go to www.maniaplanet.com/redirect/
- Click on “Download”
- Enter this promotional code: 0MXJUQEVAB or 0MXLOL3J5Z
- Enter your email address
- You will receive an email with the download link of the setup and your Beta Key. Install the game on your hard disk and create an account with your beta key.
Additionally, you should have received a key if you’re a TrackMania² Canyon owner.
The ShootMania Beta is only going for a short run. I’m not sure if ShootMania will wrangle people in for the first person shooter crowd as TrackMania did for the racing game crowd. That isn’t to say over more development and marketing that it won’t get some hype, as Nadeo has always been successful in capturing a fanbase. Most of those TrackMania players will migrate over and experiement. It’s a very tense and frenetic shooter that has room to grow and captivate. The shooting feel is good and the mechanics are tight. It is easy to play, hard to master. But giving it your time will be a rewarding experience.