By Mitchell “Moe” Long
The simplest description for “ORION: Dino Horde” is “Counter-Strike” with dinosaurs. Gameplay similarities make the comparison inevitable, but “ORION: Dino Horde” includes unique environments, classes, and of course prehistoric adversaries. It’s a highly enjoyable adrenaline rush, and fantastic addition to your gaming library.
“ORION: Dino Horde’s” Kickstarter campaign wrapped up in February 2011, nearly doubling its modest $10,000 goal. Incentives ranged from thank you letters (hey, not bad for only a buck), to beta access, soundtracks and for top-tier backers special in-game armor and weapons. My initial reactions upon discovering Spiral Game Studios’ inventive co-op shooter were “wow, how have I not heard about this game?” and “finally, I can live out my ‘Jurassic Park’ fantasies.” Upon firing up “ORION,” I was struck by the lush visuals. The world is absolutely gorgeous, a highly detailed map consisting of flora, jagged rock formations, and looming cliffs. I soon discovered that these aren’t mere eye-candy. Often I jumped atop an outcropping or even my own base to allow time to reload and avoid certain death.
As I mentioned earlier, gameplay seems partially inspired by “Counter-Strike.” If you’re familiar with this Valve classic, control schemes will feel pleasantly natural. Additionally, weapon selection borrows from “Counter-Strike,” with a character dependent layout and upgrades available with credits. Like “CS,” you earn points which may be allotted to upgrades, weapons, add-ons, and gear. Arms are plentiful and varied, from surprisingly useful pistols to the salivation-worthy adrenaline weapons.
Three human classes await: support, recon and assault. Personally, I gravitated toward assault and recon. Let’s be honest, we’re all here to blast some pesky dinos. I don’t want to run around healing my teammates. Each class offers a useful item: a jetpack for assault, medical gun for support, and a cloaking device for recon. In a jam, I could usually stay alive through a combination of retreat, combat and a special ability. Getting shredded by raptors? Use your jetpack to perch atop the nearby cliff. Or mask yourself with the cloaking device and confuse the heck out of the ferocious foes. Taking damage? Heal yourself with the medic gun. In addition to futuristic human players, you can opt for a dinosaur character. I found the movements awkward at first as I’m not terribly accustomed to controlling a gargantuan, lumbering creature. But each game has a learning curve, and it’s nothing a few minutes banging into trees and biting thin air won’t solve.
Game modes abound, from conquest and deathmatch options to one-on-one and free for all. As expected, the more players competing, the more fun the match becomes. Servers also impact gameplay. I somehow connected to an Australian server without knowing, which explained the substantial lag. I suppose a dingo ate my bandwidth. While there is a single player mode, there’s no campaign. Personally, I enjoyed this as I can casually play “ORION: Dino Horde,” progressively earning achievements and leveling up. It’s great to compliment more in-depth games. You’ve got to give “Skyrim” a break at some point, right? Though I’m admittedly not an achievement fanatic (no wait! Don’t shoot!), “ORION” has some hilarious inclusions, such as the “Jurassic Park” homage “dude on the toilet.” And once the dinos attack, believe me, you’ll be exclaiming “clever girl…” A reasonably priced title, “ORION: Dino Horde” offers plenty of hours of gaming without requiring a steady commitment. Plus you get to blast scuttling dinosaurs. Could it be any more perfect?
Game : ORION: Dino Horde
Developer : Spiral Game Studios
Platforms : Windows