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One Must Fall: Battlegrounds is a fighting game for Microsoft Windows. Developed by Diversions Entertainment and co-published in December 2003 by Diversions Publishing and Trisynergy Inc. following nearly 7 years of development, One Must Fall: Battlegrounds brought the One Must Fall series into a second installment released in an age where the gaming world expected graphics and gameplay in three dimensions with internet gameplay an integral portion of the offering.
Battlegrounds started development as a sequel to the popular shareware title One Must Fall: 2097, playing in a side scrolling manner with two opponents facing each other. At the time, Rob Elam saw the opportunity in the Unreal Engine then in development by 2097 publisher Epic MegaGames. At the time, Epic was not yet at a point where they were willing to examine licensing the engine or developing the Unreal Engine for third party use and so a joint decision was reached whereby Rob Elam left to develop a new game engine.
In the new title, which concentrated on ultimately delivering a three dimensional multiplayer fighting title for the PC, five of the robots from 2097 have remained on, but their appearances took on necessary changes in the transition to three dimensions developed as full fledged models. Three new robot types were introduced as well as twelve 3D arenas for combat.
Unfortunately, the project was plagued by release delays, problems with insufficient development resources, and ultimately the game was released late December 2003, littered with bugs and mediocre production values compared to the AAA titles of the time. Although, the game received good reviews by both professionals and the public.
However, a multitude of factors cascaded into a poor release and response. First and foremost, the budgetary availability was tight, at best. Fighting games were practically unheard of for the PC and so publishing arrangements were difficult to secure. Without major publisher support, the development team was privately funded at a small scale (compared to development of the time period). The production staff was small, maxing out at around 7 full and part time staff at any given time. The lack of programming and artistic support led to optimistic release and milestone guidelines that were constantly missed by the team, a final release with significant bugs, gameplay balance issues, and little in the way of advertising.
Although the game's "mod tools" are not yet publicly available, one small modification, MultiplayerMod has been released to the public, which adds several pilots and a couple of new game types.
One Must Fall: Battlegrounds Tiers
Another problem with OMF:BG is somewhat poor game balance. While most modern fighting games also suffer from this, the problem is much less apparent because of the much larger character rosters other games feature. OMF:BG only has eight playable robots, though there are over 50 selectable pilots in the game. Also, the pilots' four stats can sometimes not be very equal either, depending on individual gamer's playing styles. The four pilot stats are Power, Agility, Endurance, and Focus. The HAR (Human Assisted Robot) balance, however, is still a subject of much debate on the OMF:BG forums.
The game was rated 7.1 (good) by Jeff Gerstmann from GameSpot, but reviewer noted the game lacks polish from start to finish, with much higher system requirements than advertise to achieve decent frame rate, and even then slow down is noticeable when increasing resolution. Audio effects was rated generic, while music sounded like they were ripped out of the Amiga demo scene.
1UP staff rated the game D+ (bad) for lacking real story in story mode, overdone music, average graphics, small range of moves, button-mashing style fighting, great speed penalty for multiplayer.
IGN staff Dan Adams rated the game 6.7 (Passable) for low quality animation, mediocre sound effects, problematic game play, large variety of game modes, and lack of online players.
Issues with Windows Vista and Above
They keyboard input of the game does not work properly on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Text boxes in the menus cannot be typed in and the escape button does not work when playing a match. Diversions Entertainment claims this is due to Microsoft making changes in the way Windows handles keystrokes and has no plans to correct the problem.
There is also a separate issue on some modern computers where turning on the "glow" graphics enhancement causes the entire screen to display white when in a match, but not in the menu. Turning off glow solves this problem.