by Ryan Tipper
Photo by Lyric Otto
When Minecraft needs something else, add guns.
Most PC and Xbox 360 gamers today have heard of, seen, or played Minecraft. If you were like me, locked down for a week straight exploring Minecraft’s wonders and building to your heart’s content with friends, you know everything about it. Ace of Spades (AoS), released on Steam for the PC on Dec. 12, is everything you know and love about Minecraft, with a bit of a twist.
AoS is a voxel-based build-and-shoot video game, similar in style to a fusion of Minecraft and Team Fortress 2. While being an First Person Shooter (FPS), it also features game modes such as team deathmatch, capture the flag, base infiltration, king of the hill, zombie defense, and diamond mining. The inclusion of sandbox construction elements, as seen in Minecraft, enables players to construct defensive structures or dig trenches, among other options, to achieve the goals of the current game mode.
When playing AoS, players can choose between four classes with different equipped items: the Commando, with either a rocket launcher or a minigun and a pistol; the Marksman, with a sniper rifle and a pistol; the Rocketeer, with a submachine gun and a jetpack; or the Miner, with an auto-drill cannon and a shotgun.
Shovels and pickaxes can be used to destroy blocks or as melee weapons. Each class is either more or less effective at destroying blocks than another one, with the Miner being the most efficient while the Sniper is least.
Just like Minecraft, everything in each pre-loaded map is made up of 1×1 blocks. This allows for construction or desecration of each map to be far easier to go about doing while playing AoS. Whole buildings, trees, or towers can be felled with the proper blocks removed, and building your own custom defenses is a snap.
What AoS suffers from the most is how it has changed since its beta. In early versions of the game, rounds were played on a randomly generated map, not pre-built ones as it is now.
However, this version of the game also supported custom maps and included a map editor. The beta version of the game also allowed players to modify the models and sounds, with community-made packs available for download. These features have currently been made unavailable following release 0.75 of the game. Due to all of this being cut out for whatever reason, the beta version is still available online and many reviews and critics say it’s better than the officially released version.
While this may be true, AoS is still a ton of fun to play, when the servers aren’t acting up. There were plenty of times where I would have to completely quit to my desktop and then join my friends through Steam to get into the same game as them. This was because the game’s join friends system just wouldn’t work. Not game breaking, but still annoying. On top of that, trying to join servers caused tons of problems. For no apparent reason, the majority of servers failed to let you join, making your options feel limited.
One thing about finally getting into a game that was a plus was it would just roll from one map to another. This was nice, as trying to connect over and over after each round would have led to some torn out hair and tears of anger.
The combat in AoS is fast paced and addicting. If you’re playing a king of the hill map and you’re helping your team capture the point, rockets, bullets and grenades will go whizzing by your head at a constant rate. It’s a lot of fun to have a simplistic game with lots of action as it always keeps you on your toes.
If you’re looking for a light-hearted, action-packed, guns-a-blazing FPS and enjoy the sandbox elements tossed in as well, Ace of Spades should be your next gaming time sink. While it still needs some serious polishing, being a game that’s part of the Steam community means it’s only a matter of time until the updates start pouring in and the game turns around. I give this game a 7.0 out of 10. While it’s not the next big shooter, it takes elements people love and combines them into a unique package with a slightly off-set bow.