Orion: Dino Beatdown had its fair share of problems; it had a multitude of bugs, badly designed features and was in general, a massive let down. How can you get shooting dinosaurs with friends wrong, you know? Spiral Game Studios managed it, they managed to get it so wrong you could swear they were trying to actively make a terrible game. They have a chance now to redeem themselves, though. A new attempt at the same formula; Orion: Dino Horde is now here as a free update by way of apology to those who were foolish enough to buy the original.
Here's the kicker - it's not new. The title is boasted as a new entry in what is presumably, and sadly, going to become a fully fleshed franchise, but it is simply a content update to the original game with some bug fixes. What this means is yes, some of my gripes from the original no longer apply, for example not once in an online game did any of my teammates decide the game was so bad they were in fact going to just ignore the dinosaurs and fly into space; I didn't have any instances of dinosaurs teleporting at me silently and I didn't have any problems with zero ammo depletion and immortal dinos. No, what I had were new issues, brand new ones.
The aim of the game is identical; you and your friends have to defend a generator at your base, on a silly oversized map, against increasingly difficult hordes of dinosaurs. Killing the dinos and defending will earn you credits, which are then used to upgrade your character and buy new weapons. Read the review of Dino Horde and you'll notice some distinct similarities here.
As before, shooting feels useless; guns do not sound powerful, dinosaurs shrug off bullets until they fall over, showing no signs of being shot, the new and improved animations don't really seem to exist (except the tails, they look wonderful when they're flailing around on a dead dino, clipping under the ground), the new maps are as tediously large as the old ones, but on a positive note: the dinosaurs are no longer mutes, they occasionally make sounds.
The graphics haven't improved much, with the dinos looking standard fare and as mentioned, the animations being pretty atrocious. It saddens me to say it's not an exaggeration to point to the original PlayStation's demo disc T-Rex as an example of better animation. The best thing about the engine is that the ridiculous bloom effects from the sun make it difficult to see the bland environments thrown before you.
Much like the original version, your best bet of survival is still to just activate your generator, hop on a vehicle's turret section, then kill dinosaurs until something stupid happens and you die. There's no motivation to do anything else, the dinos run aimlessly at you, even the larger ones, and if things get a little hairy, don't you worry, just drive a few feet forward and the dino giving you a hard time will be blasted off into the distance like a rag doll.
On the server side of things, there seems to be a marked improvement here, at the very least. Where the original had a myriad issues just getting into a game, here it worked perfectly. I was able to choose between the whole two active servers then jump straight into the game with no issues. Once inside I was met with a different problem. Remember before, I could shoot the dinos forever and they'd take no damage and I'd lose no ammo? I could put that down to lag at the time, but now I won't. With no lag and an acceptable ping, now I experienced a new special type of gun; the type that had zero recoil, didn't move when shot, and didn't even have the decency to show that it was firing. Lag you say? The dinosaurs went down and they didn't teleport. Unfortunately it wasn't lag, it's just yet another issue in this 'improved' version of the game.
This has been attempted to be passed off as an entirely new entry in the series, even going so far as to have its own entry on Metacritic separate to the original; it is most definitely not. This is Orion: Dino Beatdown with an apology patch, a bad one. It's comically bad sometimes but not to the extent you should happily spend money on it. In the Beatdown review, I advised not to go near it unless it had a major overhaul. It has, I still advise you not to go near it. It's an improvement over the original, sure, but anything would have been. It's a title with brilliant potential, but it seems it will never live up to what it could be, which is a massive shame. If you bought Beatdown, the update is there for you right now, if you didn't, do yourself a favour, go play Killing Floor and pretend the zombies are dinosaurs. You'll be better off.
- It was free
- Connecting to the few active servers is now easy
- It’s still badly designed
- It still has too many bugs
- Guns still feel useless
- None of the new features disguise the original game