What do you get when you cross rampaging dinosaurs with jetpacks, explosions, sci-fi action, and co-op gameplay? An awesome videogame idea. What do you get when you play ORION: Dino Horde? A terrible, terrible experience.
Dino Horde is easily one of the worst games I've ever played. Not only is it badly made, poorly executed, ridiculously framed, and badly coded - it is also unplayable.
As an idea, it held promise; you, along with a bunch of friends, jump onto a server and start slaying waves upon waves of dinosaurs, meting out inter-millennial justice. I mean c’mon who doesn’t like dinosaurs? Who doesn’t like big guns? Who could possibly not like shooting dinosaurs with guns? A winning formula, right? Spiral Games Studios probably thought they were onto a cash machine.
ORION: Dino Horde is an abomination. I felt ashamed as its zeroes and ones flashed through my computer’s GPU. I cringed as its name sullied my sacrosanct Steam library. As a game it's frustrating, tedious, and above all - it’s broken.
The first major problem is the title’s main premise. You play as a sci-fi soldier who must battle against hordes of increasingly powerful dinosaurs, using vehicles, guns, and grenades. If you have any friends left after purchasing ORION: Dino Horde, you can ask them to jump in with you to join in the fun. And that’s it. There’s nothing else to it. It’s like being trapped in a “funky and cool” remake of a sadistic Jurassic Park pinball game.
But people still like this kind of thing. Ever since Serious Sam, PC gamers have enjoyed the delightful pleasure of mowing down hordes and hordes of incoming critters. But Serious Sam is a good game. It is still polished, and has panache. ORION: Dino Horde doesn’t.
Dino Horde’s gameplay is poorly constructed and badly executed. Touting itself as an “open world” shooter (it isn’t), it claimed to present gamers with an engaging and action packed cooperative experience. It could do, but the review copy I tried to navigate through wouldn’t even let me find out.
Alongside two of my friends, I spent 45 minutes attempting time and again to host a cooperative survival match. Nothing worked. Everytime we thought we’d started a game, it’s Russian keygen-inspired GUI would boot us all into individual lobbies. In frustration, we were forced to experience Dino Horde’s lacklustre gameplay on a Spiral Studios' server in LA (which were all empty - a telling sign.) With New Zealand’s internet being as bad as it is, gaming on pings as high as 300 on servers halfway across the world simply isn't’ feasible.
When we finally managed to get some kind of gameplay going, we were horribly disappointed. The game feels buggy, and the “hordes” of dinosaurs spammed at you lack any kind of strategic AI. The jetpack infused, mow-everything-down gameplay mechanic got boring really quickly. Combine this with a visual aesthetic that is bizarrely imbalanced — environmental textures looked like brown scrambled eggs, but weapon textures were polished — and you had a really trippy experience. And not one of those fun trippy experiences that make you giggle, watch cartoons, and get way better at Counter-Strike. This was a horrible, anxiety inducing, looking for the cops affair.
Thankfully, our gameplay experience didn’t last very long. After clomping through Dino Horde’s clunky interface and mowing down as many dinos as our ping would let us, we all got bored and exited the game - never to return.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that ORION: Dino Horde was such a disappointment. The gaming industry has been rife with rumors about scurrilous behaviour concerning a very similar title, Dino Beatdown. ORION: Dino Horde's rough edges suggest that it has been quickly brought to market and cynically shoveled out to gamers in the vain hope that its over the top premise will bring in a few bucks.
Don’t bother. Save your money. If you want an engaging sci-fi cooperative experience, buy Natural Selection 2 instead.