When I first learnt about this game I couldn't contain my excitement. As a games journalist who is an avid
gamer, I get excited about a lot of games - but that, in itself, is an indication gaming and its expanded quality have come in leaps and bounds, so when you're also a space/science freak (like me) and you see a HD game trailer that shows the Moon crumbling into so much dust (maybe NASA should have worked with Futuremark for their Moon bombing), it's hard not to get a little excited.
Grabbing the multiplayer romp off Steam, I certainly haven't been disappointed with what's on offer. If you're any sort of FPS player, Shattered Horizon is going to be instantly playable, and it's eerie just how intuitive it is to move in space, both through reactionary intuitiveness and solid practise. I felt right at home right away, and despite being murdered a stack of times upon my first few plays (mostly because I was gawking at the environment), I soon learned how it all works.
Despite the game's fantastical setting, it's still very much a bare-bones shooter. Everything you would expect in the way of controls and skirmish types are here. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Assault offer their premises as foundation for your conflict while you're equipped with thrusters to control your movement through space, which uses a semi-realistic sense of inertia and zero-gravity with said thrusters and magnetic boots. In saying that, there's still no up or down and you can roll while on the move through zero-G (see, "semi-realistic"). There's also a "silent running" technique whereby your suit goes quiet and you disappear off the enemy HUD. It's essentially a stealth way to approach the enemy, though hard to use given the frenetic nature of play. Floating around in the dead of space creates a very different
kind of battle experience in that you're never really focusing directly on one direction. Death comes from all around, and with the stunning level-design in place, the enemy could be hiding anywhere.
Thankfully you can use a pseudo 3D radar as part of your HUD that gives you a reasonable amount of spatial awareness, and you can use other elements such as the Earth's in-your-face scenery as a point of reference. The levels have also been crafted in such a way as to at one time be fully operational ports; replete with doors, walkways and more. These can come in handy (especially with your magnetic boots), but you're not really going to be getting too lost or disoriented (at least not after a while of play), and it's a testament to the controls, level design and overall presentation that you won't be filling your space helmet up too often with vomit (at least in the virtual sense).
As I just mentioned, the game goes to great lengths to marry the fantastical (often warranted) with the reality of your space environment. Your suit therefore "simulates" combat sounds so as to help you better orientate yourself (as we all learnt from the original Alien movie poster "In Space, No One Can Hear You scream", though this can be turned off (during the aforementioned silent running) where you only hear your own breathing and the echoes of your own gunfire in your suit. The levels themselves are based around torn portions of the Moon; now spread in sporadic orbit around the Earth, with bits and pieces of human technology thrown in for good measure. Even the International Space Station presents itself as an arena for combat, and it's all aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with our current technological look.
But herein lies the biggest issue I have with the game. There is an incredibly well-realised idea here, and idea that desperately needs to be expanded upon. the game's settings, the reasons for your team skirmishes and more are all plainly presented to you as bite-size chunks of information during match loading. And it's not that it's a bad thing to only have a base reason to float through space and kill other enemies you see hovering above pieces of shattered moon, but the little bit of info we get is more than enough to warrant full expansion.
There's no single-player game here, not even any modes with Bots to give you a better sense of how to play the game. Clearly this has been built for hardcore FPS skirmish enthusiasts, and it's not fair Futuremark keep it so under wraps. And oddly, while I could care less about anyone's platform of choice - play whatever game you want on whatever system, as far as I'm concerned, I play on them all
- I think this game would work really well in the console space through it's slightly more sluggish controls based on its overall setting.
Though in saying all of that, we might just be looking at a precursor to something more engaging and expansive. And here's hoping because despite being fairly straight-forward in how it's played, there's massive potential here. As far as game specs go, you're going to need to be rigging a DirectX 10 card right from the outset, and pushing all the settings can seriously put some weight on your hardware. But again, given the nature and ability of players populating servers (of which yes, there are Aussie ones), you're probably core enough to have a suped up rig anyway, at which point I say have at it.
Overall the product here is of high quality, and it's rare to find such a high-end game gearing to such a dedicated crowd (the last such game was really TF2). But because of the quality of the game, I also think this is Futuremark's biggest failing - Shattered Horizon should be made more readily available and expanded upon. More multiplayer modes (I'm positive we'll see more down the track through developer support), a single-player mode (even if it's light on details, it would go a long way to teaching newbs how to outmanoeuvre the dudes ripping it up right now) and potentially something in the console space (please do not take that for advocating the PC vs Console debate, I'm thinking of cash money for the developer to expand upon their great idea).
But, even sans all of the above, I can't help but love the game, even if it's to log into an empty server and just roam around the amazingly crafted levels, this is well worth your time and investment if you're any sort of FPS nut. Oh, and if you like anything spacey, it's an added bonus.
Posted 06:57pm 20/11/09
They are making their game more dedicated server friendly as a result and we hope to see servers for them in .au soon.
Posted 07:13pm 20/11/09
Posted 07:33pm 20/11/09
Posted 08:13pm 20/11/09
There is a 'training server' that you can use to get used to flying and discover the maps.
Keep an eye out on this server if you want to practice/discover the maps.
US FLight Training - No Damage(RB)
Although in the US the ping doesnt matter as your not killing any one. It is a good server to check things out.
There are currently 10 servers in AUS at the moment, 7 from FM, 2 form 3FL and one other server.
Its a great game and once you get over the learning curve and it is well worth the $20 also with 4 new maps available soon for free i get the devs are keen to support this game for some time.
Posted 08:14pm 20/11/09
Posted 08:26pm 20/11/09
Perhaps we need to look into better clarifying what a score means in the context of AusGamers (with a visual aid), because from my point of view anything over 50% is a game worth playing, more so if you're especially interested in specific elements of it (the raw sci-fi appeal of Shattered Horizon for instance).
Regardless, the best advice I can give before basing a purchase decision on any review however, is to read the text to derive whether or not the given score reflects your own tastes. The score is generally the opinion of one person but the text should give you a good idea on whether the aspects that turned the reviewer off are things that would bother you, and vice-versa.
eg: Steve was put-off by the lack of newb-friendly info wheras personally that's really not something that I would give a s*** about in a game like this -ergo my own score would be higher.
Posted 09:18pm 20/11/09
My score was more because I felt it wasn't a a complete game or experience, and although that's fairly suggested in its price-point by default, the foundation and concept here are complete and I feel they deserve to be fleshed out much, much more.
Posted 09:27pm 20/11/09
Posted 01:22am 21/11/09
on topic- i still want to check this game out once it gets a bit more public support.
looks like it needs CTF mode! pics remind me of facing worlds on classic unreal tournament!
Posted 02:23am 21/11/09
However, bonus points to the developers for being so involved with the community and responding to feedback - I've seen they are very switched on.