After beta weekend, Icons: Combat Arena showed creativity in terms of characters and things, but a lot of it has been retreaded elsewhere. I went in with an open mind, but even that was tested a ways in.
The first thing I thought when I finally started was “Is this Super Smash Brothers?” Because that's exactly what it is. I never like to say ''This is a clone of … game”” but Icons really is. The platform fighting is dead-on similar, players exploding in fiery deaths once they are out is there, health bars that go over 100% for no reason are there. Floaty platforms for re-spawned players are there, weird air force jumps to get back on platforms – the list goes on. It felt like a reskin.
I did like some aspects. My character, this big green thing whose name I saw about 50 times and I honestly still can't remember (In my notes: Xana) had this ability to sort of jump on people as they were trying to gt back on a platform after falling off. I thought it was a nice bit to have.
Graphics are....troublesome. The designers liked to put in dust clouds for every action, but the problem is that many are happening in space or in places with nothing like that, so sense goes out the window here. If you focus more on graphics, they aren't the best. Still good, but it has that problem of having detailed characters and very banal, almost a generation behind graphics for everything else. Even the animation isn't fluid and feels like a troubling midpoint between smash and those old fighter games on SNES or Genesis where characters moved with about 10-15 stills in animation.
Gameplay.....it's Smash Brothers. I literally smashed fingers on strategic areas of my keyboard and I actually won a round. No matter how good you are, you can still end up losing by someone else doing what I did. Gameplay works in the fighting sense, but not in the skills sense. Getting killed by being thrown off into fire every time was tiresome. I could forgive it using basically everything from Smash, but using the off the screen fire kill turned it off for me. I know it's a small thing, and you need to know they died some way, but it happening every time got me angry – when I was killed or when I killed. Either one.
The beta of Icons: Combat Arena was fun at times, but there's a lot of problems with it, mainly that it doesn't offer anything other games have. Well, characters they do, and a few abilities. But for almost everything else, it''s been done, and done better.
But again, this is only a beta, they might be on the road to fixing many of those things, and probably are in a few areas. It has a lot of creativity when it comes to characters and it was genuinely fun, so don't discount this game completely, especially when it's still in beta. I just hope it distances itself a bit more from similar games to make it its own.
Access to this game's beta was provided for the purpose of this preview.