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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Earthfall is a downloadable sci-fi themed first-person shooter for up to four players. Players use a variety of realistic firearms, melee weapons, and explosives to fend off an alien invasion. Action and violence tend to be fast paced and constant, with waves of aliens attacking players in vicious ways. Players can be held down, dragged away, ripped apart, and more by enemies. Finally, while there's some occasional profanity in the game's dialogue, the bigger issue is in online matches, where players can be exposed to more offensive language from other players.
What's it about?
The story of EARTHFALL begins with a meteor strike deep in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. But when strange creatures start pouring out from the impact zone, it becomes clear that this is more than just a piece of space rock falling to the planet; it's the opening salvo in an alien invasion. Now it's up to you and three others to team up and try to fight back against these otherworldly forces. You might be outnumbered, but you're not necessarily outgunned. Thanks to advanced 3D printing technology, you've got a host of weapons at your disposal. Couple that with portable gun turrets, collapsible walls, and more to fortify your position, you might just find out the secret behind this invasion … and live to tell the tale.
Is it any good?
While the action of this shooter is engaging, the limitations on its creativity makes it a shadow of what this sci-fi game could've been. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Even so, it's usually best when that imitation at least tries to be a bit subtle. In the case of Earthfall, though (which is in Steam's Early Access program), there's nothing remotely subtle about its imitation of Valve's shooter, Left 4 Dead. The game feels like a reskinned version of the zombie classic, with Earthfall's alien hordes taking the place of L4D's legions of the undead. There's a bloated enemy that explodes into a toxic mess when killed. There's a superfast, agile enemy that tackles players with vicious attacks. And there's even a tentacled enemy that snatches up players and drags them off for the kill unless a teammate rescues them. Both games' stories are broken up over various chapters, with bits and pieces of plot trickling out over time. And yet, even when you get past the sense of déjà vu, Earthfall still feels like it's missing something.
One good example of Earthfall's missed opportunities is its use of a 3D printed arsenal. Players regularly come across printers that, once powered, can instantly create weapons and items for players to use. The problem is that many of these weapons are usually already sitting around for the taking. There's nothing particularly powerful about the printed weapons, and there's no real motivation to activate the printers. It's a decent idea on paper, but in practice, it just falls flat. Despite its shortcomings and blatant "inspirations", Earthfall is still a gorgeous looking shooter with some decent gameplay behind it. It's just a shame that it fails to live up to its potential, settling instead to rely on another game's "Left"overs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Does it make a difference in terms of impact when players fight against odd creatures or aliens as opposed to more realistic human characters?
Talk about teamwork. What are some ways that people of different backgrounds, skills, etc., can work together to overcome obstacles? What are some of the elements that make for a good team and what are some of the problems of a bad team?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: HoloSpark
- Release date: April 26, 2017
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Mild Language, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.