Gaining levels has always been a powerful tool of addiction, and it’s hard at work in Confrontation. Unlocking new powers and leveling them up is satisfying, and this effect is multiplied across the four characters you control at any given time. However, a few hours in, you’ve developed a cadre of your four favorite characters and have already unlocked all their abilities. Further advancement provides diminishing returns in degrees of satisfaction, and the magic dies. You can swap to different characters, but you’ve already invested so many upgrades into your main cast that changing the lineup at this point would be handicapping yourself.
Actual gameplay follows a similar pattern — enjoyable during the first few hours, but eventually becoming repetitive. Combat is tactical, with a pause button allowing you to take your time to strategize, issue specific orders to all four of your heroes, target the appropriate enemies with just the right power, and look at which buffs and debuffs have been applied to every combatant. It’s challenging, it’s strategic, and it’s fun.
After a while, however, you’ll find out which attack patterns synergize best in your party and combat will become routine — if the game’s terrible pathing hasn’t caused you to ALT+F4 in frustration before that point.
Being an old-school gamer, the poor AI pathing didn’t bother me terribly — it simply became another challenge to overcome. Nonetheless, it is a clear weakness in the game’s combat system. Characters frequently get stuck on friends, foes, and map features, fail to find a path to their target, and get jammed in chokepoints, making retreat impossible. Any melee battle involving more than three combatants requires careful babysitting to ensure each of your combatants has found a path to the enemy and isn’t just standing idly.
Graphically, Confrontation feels like a game preserved in a time capsule since 2004 and released into a frightening new world of complex shaders and high resolution imaging. That said, the artistic direction is executed well in spite of the low poly-counts and fuzzy textures, with the final product coming together like a fine piece of antiquated art.
The artwork seen in menus and the game’s codex are all to the industry’s highest standards, and the introductory cinematic — an animated montage of concept art set to a gravely voiceover — is on par with AAA titles.
However, there is one complaint I can level against the art department, and that’s with regards to visual clarity. When a clump of characters are engaged in melee combat, differentiating the various fighters becomes a game of Where’s Waldo? Selecting the proper opponent can entail pausing the game, zooming in, changing camera angle, and clicking on the few pixels you believe might correspond to the target foe. While a nuisance in the singleplayer campaign, this becomes a serious issue in multiplayer, where being able to target specific enemies in a timely manner is essential to victory.