STAFF REVIEW of Atomic Heart (Xbox One)

Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
by Brent Roberts

Atomic Heart Box art Greetings Comrade! Welcome to a world full of endless opportunities and possibilities. A world where individual thought is banished as your very thoughts are poured together into the Kollektiv and shared with all of society! Welcome to a post WWII scenario where Russia defeated the capitalist United States and cemented their dominance to the entire world. Imagine a world where robots exist to not only help you understand science, life, art and other philosophical elements, but also to free yourself from the bonds of menial labor so that you may pursue your dreams and ambitions to forward Russian innovation and improve the lives of everyone in society. Developed by Mundfish, Atomic Heart sets the stage where this fictional utopia leaves many questions and many more enemies in your path. Imagine taking games such as Bioshock Infinite and Fallout and brought with it an open world sandbox that it quite massive in scale, and then let you run wild with guns and special powers and abilities? How about we take a stroll and see if Atomic Heart is strong or if you need to bypass this one.

You just read that I mentioned games like Bioshock Infinite and Fallout because that is what the environment in Atomic Heart is like. You can almost feel it ripped straight away as you ascend to these floating islands in the sky, full of civilization and life and all mechanically connected to each other. These islands are connected by a rail system which you'll utilize as you progress through the story, but these large sandbox areas are broken down into 2 distinct areas which I'm calling above and below ground. Above ground, the landscape will vary from farmlands, little villages, to massive complexes, research facilities and everything in between. The below ground aspect of Atomic Heart will focus on you trying to utilize your skills and abilities to solve puzzles and navigate your way through chests and unlocks for your weapon upgrades. These varying environments may provide hours of exploration, but the sad reality is that, you really don't have to.

This is because Atomic Heart is setup to where you don't have to explore off the beaten path, in fact you can take a lot of linear progression straight through from point A to B to C, etc. Given this reality, the majority of what you will fight will be irrelevant. This is kind of disappointing because these sections offer weapon upgrades that you won't get otherwise, but you really don't need them, and their upgrades are incredibly limited. Regrettably though, this means that you have really two options to pick from: either follow the story directly going from A to B or increase your time in the game by going for upgrades that really aren't meaningful in the game at all, and then progress on. Whatever you choose, also bear in mind that the environment isn't "perfected". What I mean by that is that if you're not careful, it's possible to get caught in an "endless fall" where you're frozen in place and you can't jump, dash, or do anything to help your character move. This will cause you to load your last save, so heed my advice and save frequently.

As you venture throughout the areas you'll start to see what kinds of enemies you'll be facing. One of the biggest annoyances will be the sunflowers. Think of these things as a surveillance camera that is shaped like the head of a sunflower and is attached to a standby a flexible pole so it can pivot and shift to scan a wide area. If these catch you, you will see the outside ring start to fill up with red. Once it does, it triggers an alarm which increases the enemy robot quantities for a time being. If you still take out the enemies without destroying the camera you will increase the warning level until it becomes almost like a tidal wave of enemies coming at you at once. This can become frustrating as you have to keep your head on a swivel and watch for attacks and enemy positioning. However, despite all of this, you can use this to your advantage thanks to the one robot, the OWL. These robots originally were the biggest pain to deal with, and not because they attack you, but because they repair all the robots and things you've destroyed. It can become incredibly frustrating to take down a strong robot, only to have the OWL come by and repair it back to normal. But that's when I made Atomic Heart work for me.

Early on in the game, you'll come across an area that has a couple robots that you can take out but then you have these OWL robots that will come in to try and repair them. You can use your melee weapon and knock them out of the sky and just literally stay there and swing away. I quite literally did this for HOURS and it was the most incredibly boring experience I've had with gaming in quite some time. But there was a reason I did this. When I couldn't take the monotony anymore I went over to the pile, held down 'Right Bumper' (we'll get to mechanics here shortly) and collected an incredible amount of resources that allowed me to level up my character early on to an almost unfair level. As you progress, while you're given the illusion that this game allows for exploration, you're going to rapidly discover that the game structure is incredibly linear. You can almost say that this illusion is Mundfish's greatest accomplishment in Atomic Heart.

As we talked about part of my adventure and exploiting the game, you read that I would hold down 'RB' and that is because it is one of the primary buttons you'll use throughout the entire game. By holding down 'RB' you can do an automatic mass collection of items around you which is a wonderful addition to the gameplay and makes life much more enjoyable. Now if you double tap and hold the bumper instead, you'll go into what I call X-Ray mode and you can see through walls and floors, as your screen will show you enemies that appear orange in color, searchable items are blue, and interactive items in white. I will also say that it's this mode that you will most likely be in 98% of the time if you decide to explore the areas. While in this scanning mode, you're unable to fire your weapon or use any other abilities, but this mode is vital if you wish to see all lootable containers.

Inside these containers you will find elements that you can use to upgrade your existing weapons or build new ones if you have the blueprint unlocked. While this upgrading does seem enjoyable, there also is a finite limit to what you can accomplish, so after that happens, all the resources do become completely worthless as there is nothing more to build or upgrade. The same goes for your abilities unfortunately. Since your "GLOVE" is where your abilities come from such as shock or freezing, it takes a type of polymer to upgrade it which you can get from every single enemy in varying quantities. Now I should point out that upgrading your abilities will take FAR MORE material than your weapon upgrades, but doing that little trick I talked about earlier, I was able to get the more expensive energy upgrades out of the way first, and then focus on less expensive abilities, so upgrades went by a lot quicker.

Not all mechanics though are done properly and it can become disorienting. Jumping for example is not always reliable. Jumping to a ledge may or may not allow you to grab onto it, and there have been times when I've jumped to a ledge that was at an angle, only to turn and have my hands above the ledge and the game still say "no ledge for you" and I fall and take injuries (yes fall damage is VERY REAL in this game). Walking/running is also inconsistent in Atomic Heart as many times I've tried walking straight and my character will go a certain speed, but rotate my character and do more of a strafe and he seems to travel much faster. It's almost like Atomic Heart chooses when to have you run or walk. The interesting thing about all this is that the guidance you do get is next to non-existent and what guidance you do get is not always correct.

Despite the flaws of the environment, upgrade system and the mechanics, Atomic Heart does deliver a very beautiful experience despite how twisted the experience may be (sisters I'm looking at you). Going through the various dungeons and on the top, you'll see a bunch of reused materials but that material is tweaked just enough to give it that unique feel which made exploration quite fun. The enemies themselves will vary, but make no mistake, 99.9% of them will try to kill you. Delivering a quality shooter experience is one of the primary goals of Atomic Heart and thanks to the graphics, this is one goal that hit its target. To compliment the graphics, the audio fidelity quality of Atomic Heart is also enjoyable. From classic songs done with a Russian 'twist' that are heard on the radio, to the ambient sounds of automated machinery nestled deep within an underground dungeon, every note helps the gamer become more absorbed into this utopia. There is one aspect though that doesn't quite sit well with me and that relates to when the combat is over. You just killed your last enemy and you're safe for now and the game will still play the dynamic combat music for far too long almost to the point of annoyance.

We've covered a lot of ground but one thing we've never touched on is the plot. This is because the Atomic Heart plot is one filled with twists, turns, and of course, backstabbing. Basically you play the role of a special forces operative that suffers from memory loss (you can probably start to see where this is already going), and during the launch of Kollektiv 2.0 something goes horribly wrong and the robots that were supposed to aid in humanity now are set on eliminating it entirely. Throughout the game you'll find out what this Atomic Heart program is, the history, and more importantly, the future that's in store.

Overall, Atomic Heart is an enjoyable FPS title that sadly misses out on being great. From issues that were stated above, Atomic Heart had the potential to be up there with games such as Bioshock, but in the end came up short. While the plot does offer some amazing moments that seem to raise more questions than they answer, Atomic Heart fails to deliver any meaningful reason to go explore and in that reality, shortens the gametime to about 15 hours(ish). Despite all that, did I have fun playing the game? Without question yes. Atomic Heart may not be perfect but it does deliver an enjoyable FPS experience with a plot that will take you on a rollercoaster ride.

**Atomic Heart was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


Site Statistics

Registered Members: 75,706
Forum Posts: 725,959
Xbox One Titles: 5,028
Xbox 360 Titles: 1,086
Xbox 360 Kinect Titles: 95
Xbox 360 Arcade Titles: 586
Original Xbox Titles: 987
Staff Reviews: 2,428
Member Reviews: 10,339
News Articles: 16,491
Screenshots: 37,601
Xbox 360 Achievements: 45,112
Xbox 360 Faceplates: 2,016
Cheat Codes: 1,706

Latest News

See News Archives

Community Forum Activity

KeyWe Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 14416 Views

2021: XBA is still here
Post by shrew king
32 Replies, 111434 Views

Watch Dogs: Legion
Post by Nato King
0 Replies, 96346 Views

Xbox Series X or S
Post by Nato King
5 Replies, 111799 Views

Spellbreak Grand Magus Pack (3) and Starter Pack (7) Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 106417 Views

I pay $ 1000! I search the Element 54 Canadian launch Team signaturen Faceplate
Post by Smill
0 Replies, 121231 Views

Xbox one no signal
Post by debrartin
0 Replies, 119850 Views

do you remember?
Post by SnoochyBoochy
3 Replies, 152091 Views

i haz xbox
Post by SnoochyBoochy
0 Replies, 117163 Views

Claiming the first thread of 2020
Post by Kraft
7 Replies, 193900 Views

Important! I pay $ 1000! I search the Sweden launch and the Element 54 Faceplate
Post by Smill
3 Replies, 119441 Views

Squad Up
Post by samslophead
0 Replies, 208659 Views

TERA Skinned Xbox One X Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 149445 Views

Starfield Release expectations?
Post by DJ tx
4 Replies, 261441 Views

Issue with Xbox live on Xbox home
Post by rcmpayne
0 Replies, 146548 Views

© 2000-2023 - All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft. is not affiliated with Microsoft.

Made in Canada
Site Design by Cameron Graphics