|System: PC, PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zero Point Software ApS||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: TBA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by James Ruffin
What was originally dubbed "Project IM" from the folks at Zero Point Software has now been titled Interstellar Marines. Set in the somewhat near future, this next-gen FPS will put players in control of a highly trained Interstellar Marine tasked with completing a plethora of highly intense, nail biting missions aboard a remarkably large space station. It's a bit Sci-Fi, a lot action, and a bit adventure with an original, unpredictable story line that offers multi as well as single player modes.
Interstellar Marines is the first of a trilogy; an ambitious proclamation to make this early in the game's development and pre-release stages for a company that has little experience with first person shooters. Zero Point Software was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. While the small company is new to the scene, their employees aren't, and with their maiden game, Interstellar Marines, they are off to a fantastic start. With a heavy, and refreshing, focus on realism, Zero Point's flagship FPS will be aimed at the mature (17 years old and up) gaming demographic. Now, when I say 'realism,' I don't just mean that your character will die from taking a realistically small amount of damage or be unable to jump fifty feet into the air. I mean everything about this game is realistic.
The graphics will stretch the game's "Unreal Engine 3" technology to its limits. That means grenades roll over the floor with remarkable realism, bouncing off screws in metal plating and careening off walls just the way they would in real life. Bullet casings will be ejected from your firearm and won't just disappear, but be trampled and kicked around under foot, accompanied by sound effects that will make players look down at their very own feet to see if they themselves have stepped on anything. In a dark room, muzzle flashes will provide strobe-like illumination. And speaking of lighting, the effects in this game, as I've seen them in the trailer, are impressively accurate. The soldier's weapons, each heavily upgradeable with scopes and silencers and any other manner of gadgetry, are equipped with tactical lights that look as realistic as any I've ever seen in a video game.
Another big plus for me was the fact that the soldier's uniforms, which looked like a more believable version of the armor worn by the Republic Commandos in Lucas Art's Star Wars: Republic Commando, are as tactical as one would expect from a combat suit that needs also to serve its purpose as a space suit. They aren't unnecessarily threatening or unrealistically bulky-looking at all. So while you destroy rogue battle mechs, aliens, and whatever else jumps out at you from the dark recesses of the space station, you'll look great doing it.
As I've only seen a brief trailer, and press releases are understandably tight lipped, there is little I can write to you about gameplay. What I can tell you, though, is this: when the action happens, it will happen fast, it will happen loudly, and it will happen in an environment that is non-linear and randomized (which is refreshingly progressive for first person shooters). This is not a game during which players should expect battling throngs of mindless enemies while enjoying the privilege of nearly limitless ammunition and super-human invulnerability. Again, think realism: the Interstellar Marines won't carry hundreds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and be indestructible, for such is the stuff of make-believe. Instead, they'll have to bank their survival on marksmanship, smart thinking, and nimble maneuvering. Engaging a large group of smart A.I. will most likely, as in reality, get oneself killed. As an Interstellar Marine, you'll more likely turn into a sagacious warrior than a bullet-spewing death machine. Combat may also demand reliance on one's squad mates. I don't know yet, as the information has not been released, whether players will enjoy a high level of independence or fight in a group-based environment such as that of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfigher games. I do know that a squad will exist because they are sure as heck in the game's trailer, but their effect on gameplay is still anyone's guess.
There is also little I can say about the game's musical score or multiplayer modes, save the fact that I do know up to four players can tackle the game cooperatively. But I don't think it's premature or naïve to tell you that you should probably expect both aspects to be as impressive as the rest of the game. I just don't see how Zero Point could get away with anything less.
Interstellar Marines certainly has my attention. Zero Point Software seems to be a fresh, ambitious company that's really taking their time to make the game great. They are swinging for the fences on this one, and I'm ready to catch the final product.
CCC Freelance Writer