C.O.R.E. strips the modern first-person shooter down to its basic, Doom-like core. Maze-like corridors, colored keycards, and enemies that stand in place or come running straight towards you are all things that will be familiar to gamers who played first-person shooters when the genre was in its infancy. Old school shooters have their charm, but unfortunately C.O.R.E. manages to reproduce everything that was tedious, boring, and frustrating about those games without capturing any of their appeal.
The story in C.O.R.E. is that a mysterious meteorite lands on Earth and a scientific research center is built on it with the goal of drilling down into it to see what's at its core. Of course things go wrong and you're sent in to see what happened, but your task is complicated by the fact that the research center's security system has run amuck and there are insane Marines and mutants running around the place.
Unfortunately, the research center was apparently designed by a mentally unbalanced architect with a love of twisting hallways that look remarkably similar. Making matters worse, there are no maps anywhere and you're not given access to your own automapper or waypoint indicator either. Adding to the frustration of trying to find your way around the place is the game's vague objectives which refer to the locations that you're supposed to reach by their name or location, such as the East Sector. Without any navigational aids of any kind, not even arrows on the walls, it's impossible to tell which "sector" you're in, when you've reached a new sector, or even which way is east. Things are made even more frustrating by the fact that the game is so dark. Even with the brightness control set to its maximum there are plenty of times when you'll find it difficult to even see where you're going.
While navigating the game's levels is simply frustrating, fighting its residents manages to be a chore that is both frustrating and boring. Enemies are placed in each room in spots that keep them out of sight as you enter and let them get a few cheap shots in before you can react. When you begin shooting back, they'll either stand firmly in place or make their way towards you. It's hard to tell whether or not you're actually hitting an enemy, the only indication being that the enemy eventually falls over. When you do hit an enemy it doesn't matter where you aim because it takes just as many shots to the head as it does to the body to bring him down. With such simple enemy AI you'd think that the game would be a cakewalk, but quite the opposite is true. First of all, the game is extremely stingy with ammo and health packs. After a few encounters and their inherent cheap shots, you'll find your health desperately low and your weak peashooter of a pistol the only weapon you'll be able to use. Another problem is that while the game's control scheme which uses the D-pad to control movement and the touch screen to control look works well enough for single enemy encounters, the response is far too slow to handle an attack from multiple enemies in different directions. Frequent saves is not an option, either, as the game's save points are few and far between. The result is that you'll be forced to replay the same stretch of a level over and over again. Well, if you're a game reviewer, that is. Everyone else will probably give up on the game way before that.
The game includes a game-sharing multiplayer mode, but it's not a selling point for the game. Cramped and poorly designed levels that make spawn-camping far too easy will sap your motivation to play after only a couple of rounds.
C.O.R.E. is simply not worth your time or money. There are far better shooters out there, even on the DS.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 30%. This game is all core, and that core is rotten.