The Xbox with Halo really proved that first person shooters could work on a console. The fact this was a launch title spoke volumes as to how well the system was designed. FPS is still the most popular genre around with Half-Life 2 really showing last year what can be done. It's of no coincidence HL2 is scheduled for release on Xbox later this year but now you can already play an excellent shooter in the form of Project Snowblind. With this, Eidos and Crystal Dynamics have created one of the most action packed titles around.
In Project Snowblind you play as Nathan Frost, a young man critically injured in a war who's life is saved by a number of bio-enhancements which the game revolves around quite a bit. The war is between the Coalition Command and the Republic. You fight for the Coalition Command, a group of rebels wanting to overthrow a corrupt government far into the future. The storyline is quite weak overall but keeps the game going all the same.
As mentioned earlier the game is played from a first person standpoint but this is where the generic style of play ends. While the game does revolve around solving puzzles and moving from point A to point B, it really does have a lot more than that to offer further into the game. For a start the game has an epilogue sequence and you actually play through the introduction cut scene rather than watch it. Also Nathan has a number of bio-enhancements which are updated as the game progresses. The action comes thick and fast and this is what makes Snowblind an excellent game. The goals are given on the fly with some backtracking required in some missions but due to the unpredictable nature of the game this hardly feels like a boring task.
As you progress through the game you will be given a number of enhancements to help you fight off enemies. These range from shields to stop bullets, the ability to see through walls, slow down time and take over machinery. When you first play the game, the chances are that you will find it incredibly tough and this is probably the biggest problem with the game. It is possible to finish the game without using enhancements, but it's closer to impossible than a reality. The problem stems from the game not putting enough enhancements on the bio-mods and not telling the player when they should be used, even on the easiest difficulty level. Of course it's a personal preference but for the first few missions a help hint may have worked wonders.
Once you have all your biomods the game becomes quite open and far less linear despite the level design. This is because you can take over enemy structures and drive vehicles. To give an example you may come across - picture an area where you're outnumbered by a great number but notice a enemy gun emplacement. With your weapons you can take that over and use it against them. You can also take over small mechwarriors which are found throughout the game, so while it is a first person game, it does have a lot of things aspects mix it up. This comes at a cost however with Snowblind effect having an impact in the game. The enemies can use EMP weapons to basically shut Nathan down in the 'snowblind' effect, so the game does not unfairly balanced the fighting towards Nathan.
The level design can be a bit drab and boring but the visuals make up for it with futuristic neon lighting used in combination with Chinese architecture and urban environments. The visuals of the game are quite impressive and maintain a rock solid framerate even when loads of action is happening on screen. To help you get through the game, a visual indicator can be used to find the next objective and perhaps this is why the game can feel quite linear. The visuals really enhance the setting of the game well, as does the voice acting from non-player characters and some of the main characters from the game.
The game heavily features Xbox Live and includes Live 3.0 for clan support. There are eight game modes for people to play with two non-team and six team based options. They range from standard deathmatch through to gameplay where teams have to find and defuse a bomb or defend a teams generator. Live 3.0 allows you to setup your own clan for the game and send messages to each other. There are a few unique features though such as the requirement to hack things in multiplayer which follows on from the single player game.
Project Snowblind is a game that doesn't reach the heights of Halo but does offer a very action oriented title and offers a lot of unique gameplay with vehicular action also featuring in some parts. A solid game with online play which should keep you going until the big games come out.
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