Strange Days, Indeed
The warning signs were all there – we didn’t listen. Glaciers melted away like cotton candy in the rain – we didn’t listen. Al Gore went on camera without a tie for the first time in over forty years – WE JUST DIDN’T LISTEN! Now it’s 300 years later and most of the world’s great cities are under water, and Antarctica has become prime real estate. Happy? You should be. It’s the premise behind Burut CT’s new, futuristic FPS, The Wall.
Let it be known: this game has absolutely nothing to do with the famed Pink Floyd opus of the same name. It’s hard to imagine what a Pink Floyd’s The Wall game would be, anyway. Probably something involving flying pigs and decades-long legal squabbles. The world of this game, however, is set 300 years after our time and a series of epic ecological cataclysms known as “Earth’s Wrath.” Volcanoes spewed their contents far and wide, tectonic plates shifted, causing massive changes in sea level and geography, and life on Earth as we know it was gone with the volcanic ash-laden wind.
When even the mountains were laid low, the human race did what they always do in science fiction: they completely freaked out. Nations fell and rose again, war raged across the globe, and in the end the victor was a single, totalitarian regime known as The Government. Much like its Oceanic counterpart in 1984, The Government knows where you are, what you are doing, and what you are thinking even before you do. The elite live in gilded towers high above the masses while the masses live far below in hellish slums. It’s the standard Fritz Lang imagery that has become obligatory in dystopian science fiction. There’s a reason, too: it’s great stuff and ripe with drama. Like any totalitarian regime, some parts of the brave new world always slip through their fingers and out of their control. In The Wall, these factions are The Environmentalists and The Church
The Environmentalists represent what the world would be like if San Francisco declared its independence and began arming themselves to the teeth. They are the greatest threat to The Government and oppose everything they stand for. They value balance between man and Nature while The Government has done their best to make things like the good old days, at any cost. The Environmentalists have a vision for what life on Earth should be, and they are as willing to fight and die for it as any faction in the game. No vision of mankind’s future could be as zealous or chilling that of The Church.
Having established a new papacy in newly sunny Antarctica, The Church has set about creating a line of genetically perfect humans. They have succeeded in creating two prototypes aptly named Adam and Eve. As sunny and vaguely fascist as this sounds, it gets worse. The Earth won’t be ready to be repopulated until every last person on Earth is obliterated. That’s right, The Church wants to kill all humans. As enticing and creepy as this all is, it’s just the tip of the melted iceberg. To put it simply, you’re Adam.
The game starts out with the player waking up from some unknown trauma with and unknown cause. As genetically perfect as you are, you can’t seem to remember where you are or how you got there. You have a suspicion that you work for The Government and that they want you to infiltrate The Environmentalists, so you start to do just that. As the game progresses, you will eventually be able to choose which of the three factions you are really working for, which will significantly impact the content of the plot. Not only do you choose who you work for, but you learn just what it means to be a genetically perfect human.
Various super-human abilities will be revealed throughout the course of the game, no doubt proving useful for overcoming certain obstacles and defeating enemies. Developers claim that personality points and actions will affect the plot and how characters react to the player, ala Deus Ex. Which side you choose also affects the game content, including weapons. The Government rifles are very industrial, while the Environmentalist firearms are much more handcrafted and accessorized with leather and groovy characters etched into them. Weapons are customizable and there are vehicles to drive, but developers have given no specific information on these elements as yet. It’s a familiar means of making the user’s experience more unique, but with the Vital 2.5 engine behind it The Wall will probably bring more to the table than previous FPS.
Phillip K. Dick once wrote that the essence of science fantasy is a story that happens to take place in the future, space, or some other typically fantastical environment. Science fiction, on the other hand, begins with a simple idea and projects the outcomes of that idea into the future. That’s just what The Wall does, bringing to life a dystopian future where even church and environmental groups have armed themselves and are vying for world domination. It’s a quality premise which, when matched with excellent gameplay and a dynamic, open-ended plot, could make for a great gaming experience.