What a fantastic premise for a game Ace of Spades is. A class-based multiplayer FPS with the free-formed creation and destruction of Minecraft sounds like wonderful music to my ears. Several Minecraft mods have tried to replicate this idea, but Ace of Spades is the first one to become its own game and make it onto Steam. There’s no doubt this is the type of game bound to improve and evolve over time, but for now Ace of Spades is a flawed game doesn’t live up to its promises as well as it should.
Ace of Spades very blatantly and openly draws inspiration from Minecraft and Team Fortress 2. Two teams compete in various objective modes with a collection of classes that play very differently from each other; but its real twists are its cube-based visuals (very reminiscent of Minecraft) and its emphasis on constructing and destroying the map around you to your team’s advantage. Thanks to the game’s engine, any and every part of a given map in Ace of Spades can be destroyed. This completely changes the dynamics of how a simple game of Team Deathmatch is played. Whereas a towering wall would be an obstacle in other shooters, it’s a flanking opportunity in Ace of Spades.
Currently there are four classes: Commando, Marksman, Miner, and Rocketeer. Each one possesses unique weapons, and different preset block formations you can place in the world. The Commando wields either a mini-gun or rocket launcher. The Marksman is the sniper in the family and also has mines The Rocketeer has a machine gun and jetpack. The Miner is more oriented for mining blocks, wielding dynamite and a gun that tunnels through anything. I found myself sticking to the Rocketeer or the Miner for the majority of my playtime. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the other classes, but they are much plainer. The gimmick of having a jetpack or a tunneling rifle makes those classes far more attractive. Each class definitely has its strengths and weaknesses, but Commando and Marksman classes seem less useful in modes like “Zombie!” and “Demolition”.
Given how goofy Ace of Spade’s aesthetics make the game seem, shooting seems kind of boring. The guns control well enough, but the same concept that makes Ace of Spades stand out among the rest don’t carry over to the weaponry, which consists mostly of run-of-the-mill machine guns and pistols. The one exception is the Miner, whose tunneling gun can lead to unexpected and impressive results when traversing a map. On the plus side, as with many multiplayer PC shooters nowadays, Ace of Spades is a game destined to grow with updates. Jagex has already added a new snow launcher across all classes, and will surely be adding plenty more in the coming months.
Game modes consist mostly of oldies-but-goodies that you would expect, like Team Deathmatch, but there are a few standout modes that take great advantage of the game’s destructive nature. One of these is “Diamond Mine”: a race to dig into the earth in search of diamonds and then deliver them to a designated point. The other is “Demolition”: both teams have a large base that must be destroyed by any means necessary.
As a game heavily inspired by games like Minecraft, it’s a wonder that Ace of Spades doesn’t yet feature a level creator. I would be incredibly surprised if such a feature wasn’t already in the making, but it seems like an obvious day one feature. That’s not to say that the included maps aren’t good, though. Maps range from gigantic castles to dense forests. The immense scale found in the maps is impressive, and leaves me eager to see what the community could do if a level creator was available.
Ace of Spades feels unfinished. I’m sure this is true, as this is the kind of game that evolves for the better over time. The mashing of Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft is a match made in heaven, but Ace of Spades doesn’t execute on either of its inspirations well enough to achieve greatness. There is definitely fun to be had with its unique game modes, but there are few redeeming qualities once the novelty fades. If you’re playing Ace of Spades six months after this writing, you’re probably playing a much better game, but for now, Ace of Spades is a fantastic idea wrapped in mediocrity.