The big win for Coded Arms: Contagion
is likely to be its multiplayer. It isn't often that I get a game in hand and find the online lobby jammed with players. Since up to eight people can connect for a fragfest online or through the Coded Arms: Contagion
Ad Hoc mode, it wouldn't be unusual to think that it might be challenging to find enough folks to start a game. Too often, we find that the online features in games aren't being used... So it was a pleasant surprise to see multiplayer action alive and well for Coded Arms: Contagion
. The game variations are simple enough and range from traditional Deathmatch to Team Deathmatch and Last Man Standing. Unlike the first two where you respawn and try to rack up a high number of kills, Last Man Standing enforces a kill and only crowns a victor when all but one player-character has been killed. The thrust of these multiplayer modes seems to be toward competing but it would have been interesting to see some co-op action or a more creative mode that stressed some of the exploration that makes its way into the single-player game.
Playing through Coded Arms: Contagion alone is the work of a long weekend depending on how you like your difficulty setting. The hardest setting will keep you perpetually occupied with some very capable enemies and unforgiving A.I., but the lowest setting is fine for one-and-all. Coded Arms: Contagion isn't FPS-lite by any stretch of the imagination. The parallels to something like Half Life aren't crazy since there is also alien action and some attempt at a story in both games. The story here is that the A.I.D.A. network is back up and running. You've been selected to join a team of soldiers that will enter and assess the state of things before the all-clear signal is sent. The training that we typically find in a game is incorporated into the first few levels of Coded Arms: Contagion, but the training that your soldier character is part of starts to go sideways. Once things get hairy in A.I.D.A. again, it will fall on your shoulders to find a way to clean the network or shut it down permanently. This assumes you don't end up shut down permanently. Missions are short and straightforward. There isn't much sense of exploration and almost nothing in the puzzle department apart from matching some numbers to "hack" doors and security systems. The strategy involved in upgrading parts of your avatar in Coded Arms: Contagion is basic at best. Weapons are easy enough to come by and points for upgrades are even easier to earn. An arbitrary "level" system constrains you from perpetually upgrading one feature of a weapon or armor. This is most likely a pacing idea, but why artificially limit the player? Unlike FPS titles - I'm thinking of Deus Ex - that truly use upgrades strategically, Coded Arms: Contagion mostly uses upgrades to keep your character in the game and give you a semblance of control over your future actions.
As you play the main game, you'll learn a lot about the world of Coded Arms: Contagion, but just in case you didn't get enough, you'll find some extras that include a theater for the in-game cinemas and a gallery of concept art.