Silas is one ambitious title. It tries to combine the best of the kart-racing genre and the best of first-person shooters into one delicious blend. On top of that, this is mostly developed by a single person. William Sworin represents Exalt Studios and also represents the main developer for Silas.
It’s a large load to bear, but Sworin does it capably. He’s crafted a fairly entertaining PC racer, but not one without some glitches.
Silas features four solo game modes: Grand Prix, Mercenary, Versus, and Time Trial. Grand Prix pits racers against a selected number of CPU bots in Mario Kart-style combat racing. Like Mario Kart, power-ups are placed around the tracks and can be picked up by driving over them. The tracks are an interesting mix. Tracks like Dyna Greens appear vibrantly-colored, creating a more whimsical tone. Other tracks like Wispy Temple bring out more of the darker color shades that FPS fans are more accustomed to. The single-player Grand Prix is a familiar experience, with the objective to simply win the race while taking out opponents with any available weaponry. It’s enjoyable, but doesn’t offer the innovation I was expecting. Many of the tracks also suffer from some clipping and texture glitches that start to pile up fast. I even found myself getting lost in a sea of clipping on one of the tracks, the Dark Forest, which led to some unnecessary frustration.
Battle Modes in Silas include Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Survival, and Pipe Snatch. Through any of these modes, players can hold more than one weapon at a time and can manage their inventory from the bottom of the screen. The primary difference between race modes and battle modes, aside from the goals, are the manner in which the weapons are used. Many of the weapons feature a turret mode that allow players to go into a first-person view to fire at opponents. Battle modes required a greater degree of aiming and accuracy to hit other players, as opposed to race modes, in which many of the weapons home in on the nearest opponent. Online games offered a fun alternative to the Grand Prix mode, particularly with the Glide power-up that allowed me to take to the skies with a glider. Those interested in setting up online lobbies can do so with numerous customization options, ranging from number of players per game to which weapons are allowed in each session.
While the gameplay experience is entertaining, Silas suffers presentationally. The menus have a basic look, appearing to be nothing more than text and sliders atop a single-colored backdrop. The same can be said for the character selection screen, which is simply a series of character models with some text bios and thumbail images. This style of outdated menu presentation is present throughout the game, from the other menu screens to the online lobbies. All in all, it feels dated and diminishes from the overall experience slightly.
Silas has been in development since 2004. After seven years, Sworin has finally unveiled his labor of love and it’s an entertaining diversion. Unfortunately, it’s also plagued by glitches and a lackluster interface. There is reason to believe this game’s quality will get better, as Sworin plans to offer post-release patches and updates for Silas. Those that want to give the game a shot can do so for $9.99, but anyone on the fence may want to wait for some of the game’s issues to get patched first.
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