Hey guys and girls, welcome back! I did say that I was most likely going to be reviewing DC Universe Online for my next review, but it’s too big of a game to review just yet, I feel that I would be doing the game an injustice by not playing it for a decent amount of time.
In the mean time, I recently bought a very interesting game called Shattered Horizon for the PC from Steam. It’s a first person, tactical shooter and a multiplayer only game, much like Counter Strike is multiplayer only. I first seen this game advertised a couple of months before its release on PC, back in November 2009 and it was one of those games where I was excited for its release... but then totally forgot to buy it when it came out! Doh! So, after all of these months, I spotted another advertisement for it which jogged my memory and naturally I bought it straight away for £15, not a bad price at all.
As aforementioned, Shattered Horizon is a first person, tactical shooter by a company called Futuremark Games Studio, who developed and published the game. As far as my video games knowledge goes, this is the first video game release by Futuremark, and it’s a pretty awesome debut I must say.
In regards to hype, there wasn’t really a mass amount of it, compared to other FPS games being released around the time, the game was easily overshadowed, which is probably why I forgot to buy the damn game! I can guarantee that on average, out of every group of ten people who visit my blog to read this, only two of the ten, at most, will have heard of this game. Not many gaming sites previewed this game at all; it just got a brief mention. However, I do remember that Gamespot.co.uk did a brief write up, but again, the preview was nothing compared to the bigger games of its time, and they didn’t even follow it with a review!
Shattered Horizon’s game play is very unique in contrast to the likes of the Call of Duty and Counter Strike franchises, as gamers are fighting in Space, in the year 2049! The fighting doesn’t take place just inside structures either; SH has made it so that you will be fighting in zero gravity with a jet pack to aid you in your manoeuvres, tactically moving between the debris of the Moon, which has exploded due to an apparent mining disaster.
The basic movement controls are the same as in any other FPS game, as you will be using the W, A, S and D keys to go forwards, backwards and strafe. However, because Futuremark have given the player complete freedom of movement, there are some nice additions. For instance, when pressing the space bar, you will not only jump, but you will float up as far as you want to, as long as it is within the area boundaries. You will only stop floating until you balance yourself out, using the shift key by default, which controls the top thrusters on your jet pack, as opposed to holding the space bar to control the thrusters beneath the pack. If you want to reverse your movement, you have to keep hold of the shift key, and you will be thrust downwards... or upwards, whichever way you see it in space. As well as using the shift key to control your downward movement, it is also handy when it comes to being close to a big chunk of rock or general debris, as when you keep hold of the shift key when just above a surface, the game will automatically grip you to it as if you had Velcro boots on a fuzzy floor, enabling you to walk for as long as the surface lasts, this is a handy action for steady aiming. When you are attached to a surface, you can then use your weapon’s reticle (crosshair) to aim to a location relatively close to you, and press the F key to quickly jump to that position, which is great for tactical movements to give you the advantage. When floating in space, you can also hold in your right mouse button and move your mouse to the left and right, to control the angle at which you are at, for example; if you feel like you’re upside down and would be more comfortable with a certain part of the area being below you, you can rotate yourself to whatever degree comes more natural to you (as natural as you can feel in Space) until you feel less nauseous... The last thing to note about the controls is the quick boost that you can give yourself with the jetpack by pressing C; this way you can quickly dash to any location, for as long as the boost lasts, a good tactic to use when flitting from rock to rock.
Shattered Horizon is pretty basic in regards to the menus and finding a server to play on. The game has the usual audio, video and controls settings tabs with a big shiny button above them all saying “Play now!” When clicked, this will bring you to your usual server browser window which is pretty responsive; pick the server with the best ping and a decent amount of players on, and go! The maximum amount of players you can have on a server is 32, although I haven’t come across a server with that many players in as of yet, it may be down to the times I play or just how many people still play this game in general.
The multiplayer is based on team combat. The game types are a mix of conquest, team death match and head quarters related modes, the objectives being certain areas or significant points to take control of or defend to help you win the game. SH was initially released with only four maps, which isn’t impressive whatsoever, although Futuremark have already released an add-on that brings gamers four new maps, doubling the amount there were already, making it a bit more respectable. There are two sides to choose from, The International Space Agency (ISA) and The Moon Mining Cooperative (MMC). The MMC are facing serious charges after their big oopsy on the moon, causing a cataclysmic explosion which they only barely survived. Now that they’re cut off from Earth, with them not being all that popular and all, they see the ISA as a threat to their existence. Now, the ISA are pretty grumpy, because they have astronauts and scientists trapped on the ISA Space Station, which hasn’t really been left in a pretty shape after the MMC blew up the Moon, so the ISA are seeking those responsible for what happened to their station and staff.
There isn’t all that much of a choice in weaponry, which may have been something done on purpose considering that you wouldn’t have that much of a massive weapons cache floating around in space anyway, unless that is you have a magical orifice which enables you to pull something useful out of it, which is very doubtful. There are five weapons in the multiplayer; they are the Assault Rifle, the Rail Gun (Sniper rifle), the SMG, the Shotgun and the Machinegun. They haven’t got any other names, just the type of weapon they are, although I was expecting the Assault Rifle to be called the XT29000 or something... but never mind. Depending on which class you pick, you get various special launchers, such as a grenade launcher, a smoke grenade launcher and some sort of a flare launcher (which is pretty and crystal like...oooooooo, but it’s evil as it blinds you!). You also get a standard side arm and a melee weapon, called the pick. The pick is much like the type of picks you see people use when ice-rock climbing.
The multiplayer in general seems stable, there are no connection issues and I haven’t seen many major complaints on the forums regarding other gamers’ problems. The game play is also pretty balanced too, if you’re new to the game like I am, you’re not put at too much of a disadvantage. Also, however awkward the controls may sound to you at first, it is really easy to get used to. Like most of the FPS games out there at the moment, Shattered Horizon also has a ranking system, but it only really resembles how long you’ve been playing the game for, rather than rewarding you with special unlocks to accompany the rank, it’s a standard game in that respect.
The graphics in this game are great and they do a good job in setting the scene and giving you a real feel for space warfare, but on the other hand it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak. However, you will need to have a respectable system to play this game, as it does not support any OS (Operating System) other than Windows Vista or Windows 7, nor does it support anything earlier than Direct X 10, so if you’re thinking about looking into this game more, please note those important facts. There are no graphical glitches to note, everything seems well designed and it looks like they put a fair amount of time into the game’s development to make it look as sharp as they could. However, If you do get this game, I would recommend you to bump up your Anti-Aliasing settings (to x2 or x4 at least) if your system can handle it, as it will help remove the ladder effects around the objects to make it look smoother, as it will be highly noticeable with all the debris floating about. Also, sliding the Anisotropic Filtering bar across a few notches at least will help make the game look a lot better by giving you a sharper texture detail, as the default settings just don’t cut it for me, personally.
In conclusion, this game is pretty awesome and it’s very different from the FPS games that are out there at the moment. Based on average press reviews, this game gets 7.5 out of 10, although gamers have been giving their own reviews attaching an 8/9 out of 10 rating to them. Myself, I would give this game an 8, just, as it’s a pretty impressive and unique take on space warfare, and it’s something that hasn’t been done a lot by other developers (let’s see what Call of Duty manages to bring). The game play is solid with no glitches to note; it runs smoothly with a balanced feel to the combat and the freedom of movement with your jetpack makes it all the more fun. There could have been more content in the game in regards to weaponry and general unlocks, but I guess that just wasn’t on their agenda with it being a lightweight game. Also, it would have been nice for Futuremark to have included a single player campaign in Shattered Horizon, as the background plot seems like it would make for a pretty cool storyline.
If you’re tired of the general ground walking FPS games and you want something a bit different and fresh, then I would definitely try this game out. It’s indie to say the least and I would love to see a sequel with a lot more content included, as it has the potential to be an awesome franchise, especially online; fingers crossed.
For £15 off Steam, I would say this game is a bargain, although some may argue it should be £5 cheaper, but that’s just being tight! Remember, if you want to try this game out, you have to have either Windows Vista or Windows 7 and a video card that supports Direct X 10 software. On that note, I do have three free guest passes to give away to people who want to have a trial of this game, so if you give me a comment/message then I would be happy to give them to you, whilst stocks last of course!
So, that’s it for this episode, hope you will come back and join me for my next news/review splash!
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Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon!