Anybody who's ever played Irrational's BioShock Infinite will be immediately familiar with the opening sequence of Atomic Heart. You arrive at an 'idyllic' utopian city by boat — a city that happens to be floating amongst the clouds of a post-WW2 land dominated by Soviet science — before a short guided tour takes a turn for the worse. While Atomic Heart swaps Infinite's early 20th century Americana for a 1950s depiction of communist Russia, developer Mundfish wears its inspirations on its sleeve right from the get go. Unfortunately, Atomic Heart never truly builds on the solid foundations such an introduction sets up, resulting in an uneven adventure where the ideas behind its world are ultimately stronger than the final game that takes place within it.
Once the game's intro moves on from pure walking simulator to hectic first-person shooter, Atomic Heart settles into a rhythm pretty quickly. You'll regularly plunge yourself into underground facilities to progress the storyline, where various puzzle rooms and combat scenarios play out from a first-person perspective. These 'dungeon' areas are more puzzle oriented to begin with (although combat plays a part from minute one) before they absolutely become more shooty-bang-bang by the end of Atomic Heart's roughly 15-hour adventure.
Now, you may have seen pre-release material showcasing an open world full of aggressive robot creatures out to spoil the party. While such scenarios do exist in the game, Atomic Heart's structure is tough to wrap your head around. The 'open area' segments almost serve as stepping stones between the game's main dungeon-led missions, and sadly, they're a huge missed opportunity when you consider how intriguing the game's world is.
We're not saying we wanted a Ubisoft collectathon out here, but Mundfish just hasn't packed enough meaningful content into Atomic Heart's open world to justify much exploration before moving on to the next main mission. We did do a bit of exploration for the purpose of this review, and found little beyond some unnecessary combat encounters and resources for upgrading weapons or abilities. In truth, it wasn't worth wasting the resources needed to successfully navigate Atomic Heart's overworld beyond using it as a vehicle to head to the next main waypoint.
Having said that, if you're into your brutalist soviet architecture and how the game meshes this aesthetic with a high-tech robot-led society, then maybe it is worth a little bit of a wander from time to time. Again, you won't find much that the game's introduction and main missions don't already show off, but we really did enjoy just taking in the world of Atomic Heart every now and again. The game's retrofuture style is downright beautiful, and watching on as the world's suspended rail line snakes and weaves through the mountainous environment is a sight to behold. Just watch out for them sneaky robots, they ain't the types for a casual stroll among the hills.
Right, back to the meat of Atomic Heart's main campaign - its story-led dungeons. This is where you'll spend the majority of your time with Mundfish's adventure, and they're largely enjoyable if not a bit repetitive come your adventure's closing stages. The facilities typically take shape as multi-room dungeons featuring hectic combat sections, mini boss fights and some light puzzling here and there. The puzzles never really posed a huge obstacle for us — which we liked given the game's overall focus on shooting — and in fact they're largely omitted from the game's final few missions.
As for the combat itself, Atomic Heart's first-person shooting is enjoyable when everything works right. We found the early-game pump action shotgun useful throughout, and combining it with the game's freezing or telekinesis powers gave off some serious BioShock plasmid vibes. There are plenty of other weapons and abilities to get stuck into as well, and we could definitely see ourselves employing a fairly different approach to fighting when replaying the game.
However, there are a few slight caveats to combat. We ploughed through our adventure at a brisk pace and for large parts we didn't have the resources to craft new weapons or buy different abilities from the game's various vending machines. We scooped up as many bits and pieces we could find using our glove's very satisfying way of looting, but it might be worth taking a bit more time to scour every nook and cranny if you want to experiment with Atomic Heart's full arsenal.
Also, on console at least, some of the game's controls just simply don't work. Aiming down sight is completely pointless because some sort of aim acceleration throws everything off, and the fact that you can't adjust aim sensitivity on its own means there's no way to fix this issue at launch. Also, Atomic Heart features weapon 'cartridges' that apply a modification to your guns, and err, we found no way to actually be able to use these things. You find them, they appear in your inventory, but unlike the game's other items there's no 'use' or 'equip' option. We hope this is a bug that's fixed shortly, because it prevented us from getting stuck into the game's weapon mod system.
As previously mentioned, these dungeons are where Atomic Heart usually progresses its main storyline. The game's various cutscenes appear often here, and are impressively put together, giving the game a 'AAA' sheen throughout. Because of our overall intrigue with the game's setup, world, and the premise of its Russian robot apocalypse, we found ourselves suitably wrapped up in Atomic Heart's main campaign.
Even with our attention largely held throughout, the game's overall plot doesn't make that much sense beyond 'the Soviet Union pushes science too hard and the game's machinery starts to take over'. Your main character is wrapped up in all of this in ways we won't spoil here, but the plot is messy and we'd have preferred a much larger focus on what's going on in the world around us rather than the protagonist's own involvement. Oh, and get used to him — P-3 as he's known — shouting 'CRISPY CRITTERS' every time he's annoyed at something. Yeah, he does that a lot...
A quick note on the overall performance here; Atomic Heart is gorgeous and runs very well on Xbox Series X in our experience. We came across the odd stutter here and there, and we got stuck in the environment once or twice, but nothing major. Mundfish has done a great job at pulling all of this together on a technical level, and if the team can iron out those control issues we mentioned, it'll be an even more impressive feat in this regard.
So, yeah, where do we even start with summing this one up? A recommendation depends on your own interest with the world of Atomic Heart, we must admit. The game's premise remains intriguing throughout, and its main missions provide some great combat scenarios to get stuck into, especially when it comes to using powers and the skill tree system to create character builds. Yet, the game's overworld is largely skippable which is a huge bummer, and its main storyline does little to enhance the incredibly interesting world Mundfish has created. Atomic Heart is well worth a play for the immersive FPS fanatics out there, but it's wise to temper your expectations when names like BioShock and DOOM are being thrown around in comparison. Atomic Heart is a solid alternate-history shooter, but it takes a bit more than building an intriguing world to become a true great in the genre.
It still got a better score then I thought it would. I predicted a 5/6.
Oh well all that hard work and not a fantastic game.
Will check out some other reviews as well.
I can overlook these sorts of cons and still have a good time. It will fill the gap until Wo arrives on GP in two weeks. Thanks for the rev Ben!
So it is good enough as a proof-of-concept at least. Many of today's biggest franchises didn't have the most solid game in the first entry either. I will give it a go.
Well, that's disappointing. I really had my hopes high for AH, expecting it to be a GP hit.
Is performance at least decent on Series S?
IGN gave it an 8 so there are some better scores out there as well.
Just got done watching ACG’s review, he gave it a buy even at full price but does highlight there are issues, some of which this review mentions too. I wasn’t really interested but watching his video the game looks gorgeous and interesting so I’ll give it a whirl on Gamepass.
@awp69 sitting at 72 on opencritic. So review seems bang on and echoes many reviews. Personally will wait for an update or 3!
I just watched the skillup review. He doesn't recommend the game and he says the enemies are extremely bullet spongy, with the game over staying its welcome due to high running time. I had both of these concerns after watching the previews. I'll be skipping this one.
I'm gonna play it with game pass. Looks solid. it got na 8 from IGN.
It seems fashionable to hate on anything coming to gamepass nowadays
I will be playing it as im interested in it and i have gamepass
People on here trusting an IGN score......lol
Having "moved" to New Zealand this morning I have put a couple of hours into it so far.
It's ok as a game but I suspect it will be a one and done for me. It's interesting enough but not spectacular so I don't see any replay value just to try other combat options I might not get to.
It does look great though but as mentioned it does stutter a bit when a lot is happening (on an X no idea about S). That said I haven't run into any bugs yet so that's good.
In short an ok game that offers some fun for a few hours.
@Fenbops I think if people want new IPs to succeed and thrive they need to support them a bit, especially when they are on GP or something. The money is what decides the direction of the industry and we won't have any new IP and innovation if every new IP crashes and burns while people moan about not enough content in CoD and R6 after playing them for 400 hrs 😂.
@Chaudy in fact, all enemies have some kind of weak spots. If you find them out or use the most appropriate weapon, the feeling of the sponge will be gone. But if you shoot right in the face with everything you've got - killing a thing will take a while.
Looks great reminds me of Singularity and might become a cult classic also
@Tsushima yes remember now i knew it reminded me of something singularity a great game
How many years has this game been in development? I believe around five years. And not a great game from what most of the reviews have stated. Oh well, another "I'll give it a try because it's on Game Pass" game. Game pass is plagued with a ton of games that are just ok.
@trev666 The game is on PlayStation as well. I wouldn’t say people, or reviewers, are hating this game because it’s on GP. It seems that the game is “good” at best, and not much more. Sometimes games are great; sometimes they aren’t. And, there are numerous GP games over the last five months that are received quite highly, so your comment doesn’t make much sense to me.
@trev666 its the matrix buddy
@BlackMayge have a look at the comments section on the push square review that got a 6/10 and you will see the anti gamepasss sentiment
@trev666 as they were anti playstation ones when forspoken launched
@trev666 Its a good 7/10 game on any platform. Its a perfect game for game pass, you'd be wary of spending £70 on it, but the joy of gp means we dont have to. They cant all be hifi rush 😊
@TheCrafter1578 "People on here trusting an IGN score......lol"
I agree, god of war ragnarok is not a 10/10 game. IGN is biased😂
@trev666 I've seen it myself it's hilarious. One guy on there trying to claim 100% of third party games that are released day one on Game Pass are mid.
I have waited for this game for 4-5 years. So help me God, if these reviews are an indication of what this game is going to be I am done.
@Solidchief I don't want to be that guy but what is not mid on gamepass. I am not being a smart ass. I haven't seen anything on gamepass that is mind blowing.
why does everything on this site revolve around Playstation? Literally a game that has nothing to do with Sony. Who cares what is said elsewhere? Always going to be fanboys on BOTH sides.
If you have games pass then enjoy the fact you have the games
@DoctorJohnDisco Plague Tale Requiem for me was a very good game that was day one. Psychonauts 2 was as well.
As long as it plays like bioshock that's all i need. Looking forward to jumping in once I'm done with Crisis Core. Can't wait.
Still playing Hogwarts Legacy which is incredible, but I’ll sneak a few minutes of this when it hits GP tomorrow.
@Fenbops ACG/Jeremy is my main go-to for reviews. Fast, straight to the point & honest. Def will try it out!
I'll have to give it a look. Saw a couple of reviews as well and the amount of doors/obtuse puzzle designs could be tedious. Either way, glad it's on GP.
@Solidchief But I mean Mind blowing. Nothing IMO. I know everyone has different tastes but to me nothing makes me go "Oh my god! I would have paid top dollar for that. Good thing it was on gamepass."
Scores seem pretty all over the place. ACG on YouTube is a reviewer I like and he had good things to say about it. No matter anyone's personal taste I don't think anyone will be able to say it isn't unique.
@Sebatrox semeone has gow is his head rent free
Played it for a couple of hours. Performance is good, graphics impressive but not revolutionary (there is something odd about camera turning). Artwork is great, locations are unique. Too many cut scenes already does my head in.
Then there is very in your face glorifying of a Soviet union. I am interested to see a point of view of adversary (I liked the Battlefield 5 German single player story too). But I can see people who had family members wronged by Soviets/Russians disliking the game setting.
Brief first look, but -
@grumpypotato - I agree about the camera turning, definitely something weird going on. Also the camera seems to ‘drift’ when your character is stationary which is a bit nauseating and very odd.
Graphics are good, looking forward to getting further into this but hope the controller issues don’t spoil it.
Sensitivity and dead zone reset back to default and the drifting camera when stationary seems to have gone.
Something still weird about turning though - movement seems to sometimes stall for a millisecond before you move in the chosen direction.
What is with this phrase throughout the article? "getting stuck into"? It appears numerous times, and I've never heard this phrase before:
"There are plenty of other weapons and abilities to get stuck into as well"
"it prevented us from getting stuck into the game's weapon mod system"
"we got stuck in the environment once or twice"
"its main missions provide some great combat scenarios to get stuck into"
I can use context clues, but I have no idea why they're using this idiom and especially why they used it 4 times.
@Cikajovazmaj it plays ok on an S. Ive heard PC is trash. Definitely has issues, i deleted unless it gets patched like 1.5 was for CP.
@trev666 They would of course say Gamepass is the best thing since sliced bread if it were on PS Plus instead of those really old games on there
Well, I just started playing it today. It's slightly buggy (but hey its first day), but I think its really fun. Harkens back to early 2000s first person shooters. Gorgeous visuals, over the top characters, and an interesting world. I don't know what people want from games these days, as it seems no one is satisfied with anything, but as of now, I give it an 8.5, and I didn't think it would be more than a 7 originally.
I really want to love this game as I've been following it for a long time, but it's just okay for me so far. I'm only maybe 90 minutes in, so it may be too early to say too much though. I'm going to play through the whole thing either way, but there are some major flaws in my opinion that I'm seeing already. The combat feels kind of bad as far as control responsiveness - the hit detection just feels off sometimes. The worst part of the game in my opinion is the voice acting - absolutely abysmal, especially the main character. I immediately hate him and wish he would just shut up. He acts like a total jerk for no reason, and not in a funny way. The way the voice actor says a lot of his lines is like he's reading the words for the first time and not really acting, like the flow of speech is just unnatural and the emphasis is off on certain syllables and/or words in the sentence. It's very distracting and immersion breaking for me. Also, there's a part in a tunnel where I was frustratingly insta-killed no less than 3 times, and I still have no idea why or how I died and I guess I just got lucky the 4th time playing the same dumb little platforming section. I think maybe something was falling on me? I just went really slowly the 4th time and nothing happened. 🤷♂️ The story in general is also kind of lame and poorly told so far, but maybe it will get more interesting as it goes on. The game really wants to be like Bioshock or Prey, but it's a pretty pale imitation - at least as far I've seen ~90 minutes in. I'm hoping it will get more interesting as it goes on and some of the imm sim elements will start to shine through, but unfortunately I'm not feeling super optimistic about that at this point. There doesn't appear to be many in game systems to play with or much player choice in tackling challenges. It doesn't seem to fully understand what makes the games its inspired by so immersive and satisfying. The in game world itself seems pretty cool though, and I like the style and setting, even if it does come across somewhat derivative.
I'm playing on PC with a 4080 and 13700k, so I have to say it does look and run extremely well for me at 4k/60fps with everything on max settings. If you're having issues with screen tearing on PC, there are some odd workarounds... If you have an NVIDIA card --> turn on frame generation regardless of if you can/will actually use it, and restart the game --> that will allow you to actually turn on v-sync for some reason, but then you also have to force v-sync on through the NVIDIA control panel because turning it on in the game doesn't actually turn it on. Doing all that worked like a charm for me, anyway.
welp, I guess I'm playing this next month if at all. I don't have a lot of data left this month, and it wants a 67 gb update and it was already frustrating to deal with the controls and voice acting. I'm honestly not sure if I'll even update it at this point as Wo Long is coming on the 3rd. I was really excited for this one, it looked wild and the intro seemed to build a cool setting, but like the main character who seems like he just can't be bothered with anything, I'm not sure if I'm gonna bother with this one again either.
So boring intro for 30-40minutes... really ?
In several countries formerly under Soviet occupation (e.g. Hungary, Lithuania), the RED STAR, hammer and sickle are prohibited symbols of autocracy.
If you have gamepass its a definite must play. I'm about 8 hours in and made it to the open world parts... its a lot like Metro Exodus at that point, where the starting area is alot like Bioshock/Prey.
The game is a very high quality production. It graphically EXCEEDS many of the games in its genre (Arkane, Deus Ex, Bioshock).
8.5/10 so far. The console controls needs a bit stronger aim-assist (still very playable), but on PC its perfect!
I'm in the 2nd chapter and wow Atomic Heart is really good as for now. The only thing I don't like is the UI.
This is a decent game the sexual harassment bot can b a Lil bit much but so far I've got about a bit less then a 1/4 of the game & I'm enjoying it! This is another game I'd never of paid full price 4 I'd have waited yrs till it was cheap but thanks too game pass I started play week 2 Thanks GamecPass 😆
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