Review: CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars

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High-end PC gamers should already know all about CellFactor. It was a tech demo/game released a couple years ago built specifically to showcase the wondrous physics capabilities of Ageia’s line of PhysX cards. Now console gamers have their chance to get in on the fun. Casting aside the PhysX tie-in, CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars brings an adapted and expanded version of Timeline Interactive and Immersion Games’ PC tech demo to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade as a sort of “Unreal Tournament Lite” budget FPS. But is it any good? Let’s find out!

CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is powered by the Unreal Engine, and that’s fitting because the game looks, plays and sounds like it could very well be an Unreal Tournament 3 mod, from the rapid-paced twitch gameplay right down to the disembodied announcer gutturally shouting comments like “Head Shot” and “Double Kill” as you frag the opposition.

The premise surrounding CellFactor is that of a universe in which technology and humanity are at war, and to that end the game provides three character types from different factions in that struggle. On one end is the Bishop, a class gifted with full psionic powers including the abilities to fly, telepathically lift and hurl environmental objects at the enemy, generate a temporary energy shield to block out damage, and fire blasts of energy from your hands rather than using traditional firearms. And on the other end is the Guardian, a cyborg-type class lacking in psi powers but well endowed with extraordinary leaping, dodging and running skills and the ability to dual wield firearms like pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns and rocket launchers. Then falling somewhere in the middle is the Blackop, a class with a mix of psi powers, including the unique ability to teleport short distances, and standard weapons training.

These three classes are really well balanced, each having certain advantages and disadvantages that keep the playing field fair for all players no matter their character preference. Each class is also accompanied by a short 10-mission single-player campaign teaching how to best utilize their unique abilities and unlock costume customization pieces and special skill-boosting rewards that function similarly to perks in the Call of Duty games, providing benefits such as increased weapon damage, reduced energy consumption for certain skills, radar cloaking, quicker weapon reload times and so on.

Going through these campaign challenges isn’t required, but it’ll certainly give you a leg up on the competition when you decide to head online and confront live players (and yes, split-screen and LAN play options are supported, and you can also play solo skirmishes with bots).

Multiplayer is the main focus of the game, and the selection of modes and maps available in CellFactor is typical of what you’d find in any FPS released within the past 10 years or so. Up to 16 players (that’s according to the official game details, I haven’t been able to create or find matches hosting more than 12 players) can do battle in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Assault modes on seven different maps, from fiery reactor cores to floating space forts to forested outdoor storage facilities. No, none of this is original in the slightest, but it’s a proven formula that continues to withstand the test of time.

Even though it brings absolutely nothing new or innovative to the genre, CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is a remarkably fun multiplayer-focused FPS packing more hours of fun than many of the multiplayer components you can find slapped onto full-priced retail FPSs. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, the game’s controls are tight, the gameplay buttery smooth (I haven’t noticed any lag or frame drops in my play time), and the graphics, albeit generic in art design, are mighty impressive for a downloadable game.

If you have any doubts you can always download the demo first (though I’ve heard it’s not a very good demo), but you can take my word for it — CellFactor is a multiplayer fragfest delight well worth the $10 download fee.

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Pros:
+ Good old fashioned FPS multiplayer fraggin’
+ Nice mix of single-player and multiplayer modes
+ Gameplay and character classes are well balanced
+ Good customization options

Cons:
– Generic art design
– Lacks originality

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also available on Xbox 360 (digital download only)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Timeline Interactive and Immersion Games
Release Date: 6/4/09
Genre: FPS
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-16

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!