Port Authority: Defiance
Defiance is an odd beast. It’s half shooter, half MMO, and half TV show, and it’s available on consoles and PC. It has dynamic in-game events that will allegedly influence the TV show, plus a whole separate system of in-game rewards you can unlock by inputting codes from watching ads (sigh). On the bright side, the PC version offers a better experience than the console versions. But by how much?
System Requirements (minimum)
OS: Windows XP or later
CPU: 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo or better
RAM: 2GB or more
Videocard: DX9.0c-compatible Radeon HD 2900, Nvidia GeForce 8600, Intel HD 4000 (Ivy Bridge integrated) or better
Hard Drive: 15GB free space minimum
Nothing fancy here. It’s an MMO, so specs are geared toward accessibility. Graphics aren’t stunning by any means.
It’s an MMO. You log in with your username, password, and (optional) Authenticator code.
You get your choice of display resolutions, which is nice, but they’re not sorted by aspect ratio, just absolute size. You can choose between windowed and fullscreen, but not fullscreen windowed. There are only four graphical presets – Low, Medium, High, and Ultra – and a Custom setting, though it’s hard to tell what that actually does, because there are only three user-adjustable options: Shadows, Bloom, and Motion Blur, and each is only an on/off toggle. You can also adjust overscan (UI scaling) and gamma.
Audio controls are nicely granular, with sliders for master, effects, music, speech, and ambient sound volumes, as well as toggles for whether you want to listen to other players’ potentially annoying emotes, subtitles (the anti-audio), combat music (ooh-rah), and voice, which seems to be for voice chat support, though I’ve yet to hear anyone using a mic.
Here we go. You can use either a controller or keyboard and mouse, and controls are remappable for each. I noticed a bug, though: toggling Controls Remapping on and off reset my keyboard bindings to default. So don’t do that if you’ve just spent five minutes customizing things. You can invert both X and Y axes, adjust mouse sensitivity, and toggle aim assist.
Unlike many games, there is only one map option available for each command – no mapping grenades to both G and Mouse Thumb Button 2, for example.
Menus are awkward. You can navigate your inventory with WASD or your mouse, but you have to hit Enter to equip an item or confirm a mod, for example. Enter is probably not where your hand is. You can’t rebind the key, either.
It took me a while to figure out how to exit to desktop. In hindsight, it’s simple: all you have to do is hit Escape to bring up your EGO menu, hold down Space or click to bring up the other EGO menu wheel, use the mouse to navigate to Settings, and select Exit Game. It’s that easy.
Defiance runs steadily enough that it seems to have a framerate cap. With my Core-i7 2600K and GeForce GTX 680, I averaged 59fps at 2650×1440, with a minimum of 55fps and a max of 63. But you don’t need anywhere near that kind of hardware to get into Defiance.
Even at “Custom” settings with Bloom, Motion Blur, and Shadows on, graphics don’t look spectacular. Textures are pretty flat, though there is some nice lens flare from time to time. This is a DirectX 9.0c game, so don’t expect fancy DX11 or even DX10 graphical effects here. Accessibility, not eye candy, was Trion Worlds’ priority here.
Eh. The good news is it’ll almost certainly run fine on your computer, even if your PC is, say, eight years old. At least you can adjust the resolution and keybindings, and even some rudimentary visual effects, which our console brethren can’t. But this is a DirectX 9 MMO; it’s more notable for the fact that it’s multi-platform and supports PS3 and Xbox 360 than for its PC graphics. Some of the menus, clearly controller-optimized, are weird to use with a mouse and keyboard. Still, it’s better than a poke in the eye, and if you’re interested in a multi-platform MMO with a SyFy TV tie-in, in-game product placement (why yes, Dodge is a sponsor) and a cash shop, well, you might as well play it on PC.