WarPath marched to the retail frontline with about as much hype as a straight-to-DVD movie. Without the onslaught of marketing, that usually accompanies a new first-person-shooter, it snuck into the crowded FPS trenches with hardly a whimper, never mind a war cry. Sadly, WarPath's under-the-radar release is well deserved, as it delivers an all-too familiar package that often dips into mediocrity with dated graphics and slim content.
WarPath is clearly aimed at the Unreal Tournament crowd with its sci-fi vibe, strong focus on competitive multiplayer and head-shot-happy gameplay. Its four modes, three clans, six weapons and three vehicles all add up to a few hours of familiar and forgettable fragging that's often more frustrating than fun. The weapons are upgradeable, beefed them up with tweaks like the rocket launcher’s ability to simultaneous target four unfortunate souls, but we’ve seen this before in better games. The controls, although slightly better on the PC version, can be unruly - especially when piloting the vehicles - and the meager modes and maps don’t bring anything new to the war-weary genre. WarPath's real issue, however, is the lack of interest from the online community. Although it supports up to 16 players online, you’ll rarely find more than a handful of broadband brothers in arms. This problem is addressed with the inclusion of "bots" - computer controlled teammates and enemies - but the sustaining force of any online experience is the competitive spirit and trash talk only a flesh-and-blood cyber soldier can bring to the online arena.
WarPath also has an offline solo campaign that’s more of a warm-up for online play than an actual "campaign." Its approach is interesting and mildly entertaining in that it has players strategically conquering a hex-like map of AI protected territories while incorporating all the multiplayer modes. So you'll get the chance to hone all your flag-capturing, base-assaulting and death-matching skills before jumping online. But even this, sometimes fun albeit short experience, sets you up for disappointment by the bare bones online offerings - just when your trigger finger starts to itch, there’s no satisfying play to scratch it.
It wouldn't be fair to judge WarPath against the looming potential of next-gen shooters, but even measuring it against other Xbox and PC offerings, it just doesn't earn its FPS stripes. To its credit, WarPath does contain some of the cheesiest weapon and vehicle names this side of an '80's Dolph Lundgren flick - we're guessing this is the only game where you’ll arm yourself with the Tyrant, Judge, Violator or Wolverine before driving off in your Maverick, Hornet or Razorback. If you’re an FPS fiend who'll try anything with a deathmatch mode, then you can recruit this soldier of misfortune for $20- $30.