Sunday, July 2, 2017


Ten years ago, Warcross took the world by storm and became a way of life for many. As time went on, the game and its hardware became more sleak, more expensive, and even more immersive than ever before. This game can be entirely in the virtual world with the mind or overlaying the real world in enhanced reality. Emika Chen struggles in this world with very little money after her father died, leaving her with mountains of debt. She dropped out of school and turned to hacking and bounty hunting for those playing and gambling on Warcross illegally. When her latest target was stolen out from under her, desperation takes hold and she successfully exploits a weakness in the code and steals a very expensive item while an official player of the opening game of the international Warcross Championships. This maneuver puts her in the game in front of millions of people and she expects to be arrested. Instead, she's recruited as an undercover player to discover who has been hacking into the game.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the world feels realistic and Emika is a main character to root for. Warcross is an interesting concept that would be hugely popular as we see in real life with games like Ingress and Pokemon Go. Enhanced reality would make a huge splash if it could be done in a realistic way, which is vaguely figured out in the book by using the power of the brain to visualize the virtual world. Like the real world, impoverished people don't have easy access to this popculture movement monetarily and also having available time to play the game. They are essentially removed from a huge part of this society. Emika copes well with poverty, but the need for money to survive and keep a roof over her head takes up her whole life and ultimately what pushed her to steal ingame, setting everything else in motion. I wanted her to succeed when it seemed like the whole world was working against her.

Where the novel falls apart for me is in the gameplay and Hideo Tanaka. Regular MMORPG roles are as follows: tank to take damage and protect others from taking damage, healer to keep the group alive, and damage dealing (or DPS) to kill the monsters or opponents with powerful attacks. There are other roles as well, but these are the main ones that make a group successful. Warcross plays lip service to these roles, but then doesn't have these roles act like they should at all. Another team is known for being versatile, but there were no examples of their team following their chosen role. Emika's class was an architect, which didn't really make sense especially when she carried tools on her belt (including an unwieldy chainsaw for some bizarre reason) that she never used. Then, Hideo is an awful character from the beginning, cold and emotionless. Later, he out of nowhere admits his love for her which commences a relationship built on absolutely nothing beyond him being a genius and rich. By the end of the novel, I didn't care about their relationship which was pretty central to the whole thing.

Warcross had a lot going for it, but the stilted romance and nonsensical gaming roles that are central to the novel made everything fall apart for me. I could predict exactly what would happen by about half way through the novel so nothing was remotely surprising. I most likely won't be continuing with this series, but I could be convinced to give the second one a try since it was a fast read.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

No comments: