General game information
Game name: Day of Infamy
Release date: March 23, 2017
Price: US$ 19.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Multiplayer first person shooter
Developer: New World Interactive
Publisher: New World Interactive
Day of Infamy is a WW2 tactical multiplayer first person shooter powered by Valve‘s Source engine, and developed by the minds behind the acclaimed Insurgency. Originally intended as a total conversion for New World Interactive‘s modern combat tactical shooter, Day of Infamy ended up becoming a standalone game, and its creators launched it on Steam’s Early Access program in 2016, letting players shape the future of the title for almost a year.
With the exception of the Early Access part, the first paragraph of this review could probably be used to describe Valve‘s excellent Day of Defeat: Source. There are some key differences between Valve‘s classic WW2 multiplayer title and New World Interactive‘s latest release, however, as Day of Infamy is far more unforgiving and focused on teamwork. Most weapons will kill the player in one hit (with the exception of sidearms) and we can’t rely on a crosshair to predict where our shots will land. Running and gunning will always lead to pointless deaths and even though the game’s community is surprisingly polite and won’t verbally abuse newcomers, most players will quickly learn to avoid lone wolf assaults, choosing to work as a team instead. Respawns are limited, so if a team is unable to achieve their objectives before their lives run out, the game ends with a victory for the opposing forces.
At the start of every match, we can select a soldier class and the weapons that we’ll take into battle with us, with some attachments that can be equipped if we have enough credits (obtained through good match performance instead of being unlocked as the player racks up ingame hours) to purchase them. Each weapon type is useful for a specific situation, so we should take a look at our squad before heading out to meet the enemy, and we should also take into account different variables, such as the map being played, or the average distance for most engagements in this particular theater. Guns feature a realistic recoil simulation, and we have to rely on our memory when firing, as there is no on-screen indicator of the amount of bullets left in our magazine. Automatic weapons require careful recoil/ammo management, and heavy machineguns can’t be used effectively unless we are in the prone position.
Aside from carrying different weapons, the variety in soldier classes also has a pretty big impact on the way Day of Infamy matches evolve, since every role has a specific use. Basic riflemen can pin down enemy positions from medium range while your team’s snipers take care of the threat from afar, and assault soldiers should swoop in and finish the job after the opposing force has been weakened. Every squad should have an officer (usually a veteran player) who will not only direct their teammates towards specific paths, but may also call for artillery support in order to rain down death upon the enemy forces before their squadmates close the gap and complete their objective. Effective teamwork is the key to victory in Day of Infamy, and players who adapt to their role quickly will be rewarded with far more points (and credits) than those who decide to abandon their teammates and focus on their kills/deaths ratio.
Day of Infamy‘s maps will not win any originality contest (all the usual suspects are there, Omaha Beach, Reichswald, and a number of Western Front battlefields) but they are well designed, and even the 32 player modes don’t feel like your squad is spawning right beside the enemy (with the exception of Dog Red, the Omaha Beach map, which starts with the German forces in control of a series of bunkers that will make allied assaults a nightmare if the attacking team isn’t well coordinated). The Source engine shows its age, sadly, and some issues derived from its use may cause unfair deaths (I had a particularly bad experience in the aforementioned Dog Red map, when I got stuck in the terrain while trying to destroy an objective as a member of the allied forces) but for the most part, bugs like the one I’ve just described are rare. Gamers who wish for a bit more variety may also choose to play on community created maps (downloadable through the Steam Workshop) but the majority of the player base will always revert back to the official maps released by New World Interactive.
Aside from player versus player matches, we may also choose to play cooperative missions against AI enemies, a feature also present on the developers’ previous game, Insurgency. These missions usually pit small human squads against larger computer controlled teams, and task the players with completing several objectives before the match is over. The AI of the enemy forces is rather good, and the developers even had to reduce their aggressiveness during the Early Access period in order to achieve a balance between difficulty and entertainment. Gamers who wish to perfect their aiming skills before heading into battle can also fight their way through a series of practice missions which feature AI soldiers on both sides (though the friendly bots aren’t as good as real teammates).
Playtime is rewarded with cosmetic “units”, skins that can be selected in the loadout screen and alter the appearance of the playable soldiers. They have no influence over Day of Infamy‘s gameplay, but players who wish to unlock something as they rack up ingame hours will probably appreciate their inclusion. Gamers who don’t wish to use the “units” system can easily ignore it (and in some maps, they are disabled by default). This cosmetic progression system keeps the game fresh and at the same time avoids the pitfalls generated by modern unlock mechanics like the ones pioneered by Call of Duty 4.
Day of Infamy’s audiovisual department won’t wow players with advanced graphical effects or ultra HD texture work, but the New World Interactive team should be commended over their use of the aging Source engine, as they managed to produce a title that immerses gamers in virtual battlefields thanks to their excellent sound design. Every playable faction has their own voice lines (I’m a big fan of the British troops’ voice work) and their guns sound appropriately powerful when fired in close proximity to the player. Every weapon has a distinctive sound, letting trained ears identify the source of the rounds being fired after just a few seconds, something that helps a lot when assaulting an enemy position after an artillery barrage, for example. A highly detailed gore system is also present, but it can be disabled at will if the player isn’t comfortable with the grisly visual effect.
Of course, every positive aspect I’ve just described wouldn’t be very useful if the game was an empty wasteland, as it’s usually the case with promising multiplayer-only indie releases. Thankfully, the Steam community has embraced Day of Infamy with open arms, and we may find populated servers from different regions at any time, with the active population hovering between six hundred players and a thousand.
Ultimately, Day of Infamy is an excellent multiplayer first person shooter that rewards teamwork and skill. It treads a fine line between realism and entertainment, and gamers looking for a worthwhile alternative to more mainstream shooters that isn’t as time consuming as the ArmA series will feel right at home in New World Interactive‘s latest release.
9/10 – Great.