|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Renegade Kid||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Mastiff||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
May 27, 2008 - Last year, the release of Dementium: The Ward - a tasty blending of first-person shooter and survival horror on the DS - showcased the excellent potential for expansion of two genres currently lacking on the handheld. Developers Renegade Kid have already proven themselves a force to be reckoned with, and they're aiming for the stars to ensure their next effort on the DS is completely out of this world - literally. Previously known as "Project M," their next game, Moon, will offer a new range of eerie first-person experiences set in the cold, dark vacuum of space.
Moon is essentially a science fiction first-person shooter with an adventure feel to it. Moving away from an outright emphasis on over-the-top gore and shock effect, the game favors a mysterious, unsettling vibe of discovery that's made even creepier by the extraterrestrial setting. This time around, substantial emphasis has been placed on developing the story in Moon that will be revealed piece-by-piece as players move deeper into the game.
Set in the year 2058, the story unfolds on the oppressively desolate lunar surface with the arrival of a special team led by Major Kane. The U.S. government has funded construction of several facilities on the moon to prepare for the creation of a Mars launch station and to engage in scientific experiments. However, a strange, sealed hatch is discovered at an excavation site at one of the bases. As Kane, players will embark on a secret mission to discover the mysteries waiting beyond the hatch in the planet's surface.
Between the teaser trailer and the brief gameplay footage available, it's clear the game environments in Moon will be packed with a surprising level of detail. So far, character features and movements are fluid and lifelike. The visual effects on the surface of the moon with the starry atmosphere and the light from the sun in the distance are pretty slick. The interior environments of the base are even more stunning. Computer panels light up with video and information; pipes, wires, and other equipment are visually realistic and the base's human inhabitants don sweet, high-tech space suits. We've yet to see exactly what kind of adversaries players will face, but it's likely to involve nasty alien beings or slathering creatures in some way, shape, or form.
It appears the development team has taken to heart much of the feedback voiced by players and critics over their first DS title, in order to avoid some of the same pitfalls a second time around. Among complaints about Dementium was the game's somewhat limited variety of vile creature encounters, and the frequently dark and gory environments eventually begin to look a tad too similar over time. Moon utilizes an updated and enhanced version of the already impressive Renegade Engine from Dementium. A substantial portion of the development cycle for the original title was eaten-up, building the foundation for the engine from the ground up. With the foundation already laid, Renegade Kid indicated it has more ambitious plans in store for the enemies, environments, visual effects, and cutscenes featured in Moon. There's no doubt the title will push the DS further to its limits.
To avoid driving players to familiar frustrations, Moon's save feature will be tailored to be more in line with the mobility and shorter play sessions afforded by the DS. The game will progress in episodes, and players will be able to save their progress at numerous checkpoints in each episode. This should be welcome news to most players who found the save feature in the U.S version of Dementium - that forced players to re-play large portions of the game after being kicked all the way back to the beginning of a chapter upon death - less than appealing.
The controls should feel familiar to anyone who's played a first-person shooter on the DS. The D-pad will handle movement, the stylus will be utilized to look around, and shooting will be done with the L button. The touch screen will feature a real-time map in addition to weapon and menu selection buttons. There's been no word yet about what weapons players will be armed with once the action ramps up.
With the shortage of new first-person shooter games on the DS - a genre that has proven to be a near-perfect match for the handheld's dual screen and touch controls - Moon is shaping up to be an elaborate and exciting addition to the system's offerings. The team at Renegade Kid seems refreshingly tuned-in to addressing deficiencies in the range of games available for the platform. In a time when the DS is awash in a sea of half-cocked casual games and uninspiring movie franchise tie-ins, Moon has the potential to bring a huge level of satisfaction to eager gamers.
CCC Staff Contributor