Extinction (Xbox One Review)
It’s often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when was the last time you felt flattered when somebody copied your idea and presented it as their own? From the first Ravenii peering over the wall to the last swipe at its nape, Extinction wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Whether or not Extinction deviates from the path it’s on is a completely different story.
As Avil, the last of the Sentinels, it’s your place to defend the remaining humans from the oncoming Ravenii horde. With your trusted partner quietly whispering in your ear about the ongoing damnation of civilisation, you’ll start to find out about Avil’s origin and how the two came to meet. If it wasn’t for Extinction’s weak delivery, opting for some tiresome dialogue boxes between the scarce, and often rough, comic-like scenes, it would be reasonably enjoyable. But with some drawn out conversations that either suspend the action for too long or are lost between the hacking of a Ravenii’s shins, Extinction’s story will never find the platform it deserves. As for the Ravenii’s side of , there was never a reason that really stood out that would define them as a formidable villain beyond the reasoning that they are really tall and really really hungry – or something.
As you try to embrace the scattered narrative that is Extinction, you’ll have to fend off short Ravenii, flying Ravenii, and the actual Ravenii. The combat is nearly as one dimensional as the enemies themselves. Relegated to one button, you’re able to switch up your attacks by holding the attack button to take off the ground for a combo in the air, delay your inputs to create sweeping area clearing attacks, or mash through an entire series of short ranged linear attacks by rattling the attack button. That’s it. No more and no less.
The thing is, Extinction isn’t really about fighting the fodder on the ground, it’s about toppling those sun eclipsing Ravenii. To take down one of these gigantic orc-esque creatures you’ll need to make use of your grappling hook to scale them and destroy the different pieces of armour strapped to their enormous shoulders before following the tried and true tradition of decapitation. As you sore through the sky, or scale massive walls, you’d be forgiven for embracing the frantic pace of it all. The wind will vigorously cut through your hair while the small dots below you wage war on the defenceless citizens, and then you’ll be swatted like the fly you are. You see, taking down Ravenii is no mean feat. Extinction’s idea of introducing the player to different mechanics is often that of a one liner about indestructible armour or baiting specific attacks to then punish weak zones and then it expects you to remember it forever. This approach would be fine if it wasn’t for the barbaric nature of the orcs that often leaves you feeling powerless as they flick you out of the air. Even when you’ve successfully dispatched of a Ravenii’s arms and legs it’s only a short period of time until they sprout a new and you’re going through the same song and dance all over again. It’s exhausting, especially with a real lack of diversity in the gameplay.
In Extinction you’re asked to save a dying world, but it’s hard to care about the world when there’s no consistency. Missions are randomly generated and so are there sub missions for large parts of the campaign. Some of the missions and submission couplings often feel unfair due to the map design. For instance I was asked to save 20 civilians on a map that was so small that, as soon as the Ravenii appeared, was nearly impossible. I’d try and try and try, but I’d always be one short – even when I was able to invest further skill points in skills that should have helped me. I would go on to quit the mission and reroll for a far easier version, which is something I never thought I’d say about a story based game.
Outside of the core campaign it’s all the same. You fell the big dude, or loads of big dudes, and then post your score online. Even the civilian saving orientated is just the movement options without the threat of killing a big dude at the end. There just isn’t enough content to fully carry the title and it’s boring.
It’s a tragedy of sorts as the game looks great. The cartoon visuals emphasise the ludicrous idea of the Ravenii and their armour. The sense of cartoonish-ness continues in the cutscenes, but they are so few and far between that they serve as a reminder that Extinction could be so much better.
Extinction has the potential to be great, all the core ideas are there, but it just fails to deliver on so many levels. The story is often lost in brief dialogue snippets at the start of missions and the contrast between those moments and the actual cutscenes are stark. The combat has a cathartic spark to it, but the game never celebrates it because the main focus is on slaying these giant tedious Ravenii instead of revelling in the rather reasonably sized villains. And then you have the diversity, or the distinct lack thereof, that hampers any need to continue. You’ll often feel like you’ve seen it all very early in the campaign. It desperately needs push in the right direction, making it very difficult to recommend Extinction over so many comparative games.