Despite its interesting concept, Purge is difficult to recommend due to the lack of a large online population and some balance issues, bugs, and design quirks.
During the heyday of the original Quake in 1996 and 1997, several Quake mods rose to prominence. These included the first ever team-based first-person shooters, including the Lithium CTF mod, Team Fortress, and Future vs. Fantasy. In fact, Future vs. Fantasy was one of the most original and popular Quake mods available at the time, pitting several high-tech classes against characters pulled from the fantasy genre. The creators of Future vs. Fantasy have now released an updated version of their game on the more modern Lithtech engine, changing the name to Purge but keeping much of the vision and design from the original game intact. More than six years after the initial release of Future vs. Fantasy for Quake, Purge still offers gameplay that is fairly unique. Unfortunately, balance issues, poor level design, and a lack of online players keep it from fully realizing its potential. Since the game is an online-only multiplayer shooter, the lack of other players is particularly troublesome.
The premise of Purge is a war between humans who have embraced high technology (the Order), and humans who have shunned it in favor of magic and mysticism (the Chosen). There are four classes for each side: androids, cyborgs, commandos and wastelanders on the Order and mages, fighters, assassins, and monks opposing them on the Chosen. Each player class has seven different attributes, and while the game includes four preloaded settings for each of the eight classes, it is also possible to manually tweak the attributes to customize each class as you see fit. Additionally, each class has four different weapons and three special skills it can use in combat.
Doing some simple arithmetic, we see that Purge has 32 different subclasses, 24 skills, and 32 weapons, which seems like a lot of variety on the surface. Unfortunately, as you play the game, you'll find that the four main classes on each side are more or less analogues of one another. Eight of the 12 skills on each side have mirrored equivalents on the other side, further cutting into the variety. Even many of the weapons are extremely similar when compared across sides. For instance, the assassin's vorpal crossbow and fire trap really aren't any different from the commando's gauss sniper rifle and proximity mine. The end result of all this duplication is that both the Order and the Chosen play about the same, despite their cosmetic differences.
Each map features a spawn point for each team called a portal. The portal has a certain number of hit points, and the condition of the portal affects how quickly a team's members can respawn after dying. The object of the game is to destroy the other team's portal. As players kill enemies and perform other tasks to help their team, such as destroying enemy structures or dropping upgrades for their teammates, they'll gain experience that will eventually allow them to level up and enhance their skills and natural attributes. Though, much like in Freelancer's multiplayer model, experience points gained on one server are stored only on that server (and only if that server is running the persistent war mode). The end result of this in Purge is that new servers are ignored in favor of ones on which players have already put in a lot of hard-earned time.
The biggest problem with the game in its current iteration is that two classes, the android and the mage, are unbalanced in importance relative to the other six classes. This is particularly true since so few players are online (at the moment, there are only five to 20 players online at any given time). The android and mage both have special skills that allow them to protect and repair their respective team's structures and quickly destroy enemy structures. Since the game revolves around the protection and destruction of portals, androids and mages are clearly an important class to have around, especially if there are few players on a team.
One issue is that the fighting abilities of the android and mage aren't quite weak enough to compensate for their important skills. A talented player using the android or mage can still rack up a lot of kills in battle while merrily repairing his or her own structures and destroying enemy buildings. The android and mage can also gain experience points more easily and rapidly than the other classes, because they gain experience for every 15 seconds that the portal and other structures are protected by their special shield constructions. They also earn a good number of points from repairing their own structures, which only they can do, and destroying enemy structures, which favors them because their skills let them destroy structures most efficiently.