charlaxy's Firepower (PC) review

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Shattered Horizon: Send More Weapons!

Shattered Horizon  has long been notable as the first game by  Futuremark , the makers of benchmarking software.  One would expect their game to be visually fantastic, and it  is .  What's more, Shattered Horizon is fantastic as a game.  It is also probably the  only  multi-player first person shooter set in a realistic space environment.  I can't tell you if the way it depicts gun fights in space is completely factually accurate, but it  feels  like it, and this is why it works superbly.  And all of this is also why it's been such a shame that not many people have been playing it.  As a multi-player game, it lives or dies based on whether you can find other players in the servers. Shattered Horizon had been mostly dead for a while.  However, a couple of things breathed fresh life into the game recently: the addition of bots, and a Steam sale and free weekend.  If you've been hesitant to give Shattered Horizon a try before now, then I implore you, take a look at the video.  If the game looks at all appealing, consider trying it.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Single copies and four-packs are available from Steam, and it's also part of the Frontiers Pack, along with Lead and Gold.  Or, you bundle it with  3DMark Vantage Advanced Edition  on the developer's site.

As I've already stated, I think Shattered Horizon is an excellent game.  My only caveat is that the game is built only for DirectX 10 or higher.  If you're using Windows XP or a DX9 video card, it will not work.  That's too bad, but I suppose it's what the developers felt they needed to make the best game. However, if you are using Windows Vista or 7, then this game should work great.  I have had very few technical issues while playing it, all of which occurred while I was trying to film the gameplay video.  I think that this had something to do with my recording software, because my overall experience has been good.

Shattered Horizon's ISS was modeled after the actual ISS.

Shattered Horizon is an entirely multi-player FPS.  The two teams are the Moon Mining Cooperative (MMC), and the International Space Agency (ISA).  The story is that the MMC caused a catastrophe that broke off a section of the moon and left an arc of debris strewn in Earth's orbit. This created an impenetrable barrier of micrometeoroids close to Earth through which space craft cannot pass.  The MMC miners are now stranded in space along with the ISA astronauts, who were on the partially destroyed International Space Station (ISS).  There are not enough supplies for both groups.  One of the last shipments to make it to them was a shuttle full of weapons.  Now, each side fights to defend its supplies from the other in a variety of environments including the ISS, a field of moon fragments, and an abandoned space hotel.

The weapons in the game are about what one would expect from a FPS: a decent variety of guns and grenades, and a melee pickaxe.  The game modes are team deathmatch and point capture.  There is dedicated server software that supports up to 32 players or bots.  What sets this game apart (aside from the stunning visuals) is the feeling of flying through space.  Combatants have space suits with thrusters for moving in all directions, giving the player completely free movement.  You can go up and down, roll left or right at any speed, quickly boost around corners, or anchor yourself to surfaces.  Some find it a little dizzying, and others think it's incredible.

A lot of attention was paid to getting the details of being in space right.  Of course, you don't actually hear the noise from gun fights in space; sounds are simulated by the player's spacesuit.  The suit also has systems on it for aiding movement and reducing gun recoil, which is not insignificant in space.  You have the option of turning the suit off to go into stealth mode, making it easier to hide as other players can no longer detect signals from you.  It's then eerily quiet, as all you hear is your own breathing and heartbeat -- and then the sound of your air tank exploding as someone shoots you in the back.  Turning your suit off means that you'll lose your radar and HUD in addition to the simulated sounds of combat.  It's quiet, it's more difficult to move, your guns give more recoil, and it's disorienting.  This is the most realistic experience of just being in space that I've ever had in any game.  In addition to many public game servers, Futuremark also runs no-damage "flight school" ones where you can practice navigating through space.  If you're new to the game, just exploring the maps and taking in the sights of the shattered moon can be a fun adventure.

Another neat feature is that combat statistics are kept for you on a website. Here's mine for the name I used while doing the video; a new statistics page is created if you change your name, and statistics do not transfer.  Also, check out some of the amazing trailers that Futuremark made for Shattered Horizon.  Here's their news report trailer, and a trailer for the additional weapons that were added after launch.  Here are some others that I think are also notable for using actual game footage, and for being so amazing looking: Premium EditionRaid on Moondust, and Moonrise.

If you're a fan of FPS games or you're looking for a game that gives what is probably the most true-to-life depiction of flying and fighting in space, then you really should give Shattered Horizon a try.  Our rating: 167 undestroyed moons.

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