There are shoot-em-ups and then there are shoot-em-ups. Any old gun-containing game can claim to be the former, but to be referred to with the weight of italics takes a special kind of game. Very few games truly deserve recognition as the shoot-em-up greats of the gaming world. The Half-Life is one such series of games, as is the classic Time Crisis, Counter Strike (a fantastic multiplayer spawned from the Half-Life fame), Far Cry, F.E.A.R., and Duke Nukem. The console-based offerings of this genre also have flash-based cousins holding the torch in the browser-based sphere as well with titles like Boxhead, Elona Shooter, and Doom 1 being of note. Perhaps the most successful and significant of all the shooters comes in the form of the platform-heavy, arena-based shooter series known as Raze. The latest instalment in this series is Raze 3, and it's got a great balance of the familiar and the novel for veterans and newbies alike.
It doesn't really matter if you've got any experience with the Raze series because its developers have ensured that the game is as easy as possible to pick up. It's an arena-based shooter that takes place in the third-person perspective (with a cross-sectional view to be precise), and its controls are very similar to any other shooting game you're likely to have encountered either in the flash world or that of PC gaming. Movement controls are the expected WASD or directional arrows arrangement, with the up arrow allowing you to jump; double-tap the up arrow to perform a double jump that allows you to get to hard-to-reach places. Aiming and shooting is done with the mouse and the left mouse button respectively. There's also the ability to deflect rockets/projectiles by using the CTRL or F key.
The game has a small selection of modes to choose from at the outset. The main mode is the Human Campaign in which you play as a soldier through the storyline that begins with the decimation of the world and the chaos in the high-altitude civilisation that results. You roam through various discrete environments that contain platforms: these are the arenas that make the game an arena shooter. Within these arenas, enemies continue to spawn in deathmatch fashion as you battle it out with your foes. Your team (yourself included) can also respawn after a few seconds once you have died. Its format is a little like the well-known Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament 3 Black.
As you play through each of the arenas, you either win or lose based on the number of kills you and your team manage to accrue. Your performance is graded with stars once you clear the arena, one being the lowest and three being the highest. You can also strive to meet the parameters for the various achievements set by the game as well, but these aren't strictly necessary to triumph in each arena.
The stars you earn in your campaign can be spent on much-needed upgrades to your arsenal of weapons as well as a few additional items and abilities. Your arsenal of weapon is split into different categories: pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and abilities. Further to the standard weapons in each category, there are numerous human and alien-origin guns available (this is somewhat reminiscent of the classic N64 shooter Perfect Dark) for you to unlock, from Burster Shotgun that can perform one-hit kills and bank shots to the Puslator (sic) sniper rifle. It's a pretty satisfying experience to earn your way to a better arsenal, if a little repetitive in the long run. Not to worry though, since raze 3 hacked is in the pipeline and will almost certainly make all of the non-premium guns instantly available through a credit/stars hack.
As mentioned before, there is more than just a regular campaign mode to play through. There is also an Alien Campaign mode to unlock by completing the Human one, and this puts you in the shoes of the aliens instead of the humans. You can also enjoy a quick-match mode if you really want to get stuck into the action instead of playing through the storyline. Though there are no more modes, there is premium content which can be unlocked with a little bit of money. The premium content is pretty enticing as it includes more weapons, different stages, and additional stars .
Raze 3's gameplay is pretty similar to Raze 2, with chatter on the internet revolving around the observation that this is really just an enhanced and re-skinned version of its predecessor. There are improvements however including new weapons, additional modes, and better graphics. The game could be described as being more akin to Strike Force Heroes 2 than Raze 2 or the original Raze. The gameplay is different enough from its predecessor to be compared to a different game series after all, so it isn't really an exact copy. Still, this isn't the only drawback: the impressive graphics come at the price of a very lag-laden experience, with the game sometimes taking a few seconds to catch up with itself on occasion, no matter how powerful your computer may be.
Overall, for those that wish to play Raze 3 Online won't be disappointed. The graphics are impressive, the weapons numerous, and the arenas are plenty in number. The arena shooter can become a little repetitive, but anyone that has any clue of what the genre entails will already know the kind of game they're letting themselves in for anyhow.