Logichaos is a blog site created by Neil Moore with the help of John Wolgamot. Here you will find guides for Windows and Windows based programs. Logichaos started out as a hobby many years ago and over time it has become my personal website where I submit and edit guides and video tutorials. I maintain a list of free programs for Windows called The Ultimate List of Free Programs for Windows.
This is going to be my first attempt at reviewing a game. I recently picked up a game called Shattered Horizon for $18 on Steam. I saw the previews and the game looked very impressive. It's a game made by Futuremark, the creators of the popular 3dMark benchmarking engine for 3d graphics. It takes place in space in the near future, where the moon has been "shattered" by a nuclear explosion. Many of the level settings take place in the midst of asteroid debris in our solar system where earth and the moon are clearly visible. What makes this game so appealing is, it's a first person shooter in a floaty environment. The last game to do that was Tribes, which hasn't seen a sequel or true successor in years. I found out a buddy of mine preordered it, so I decided to give it a gamble. I finally got a chance to play it, and these are my thoughts thus far.
The price is "almost" right. For $20, the amount of content is lacking, but I am giving Futuremark some faith. This is their first shot at a game and based on the level of realism in both graphics and gameplay, I have to say I'd feel guilty for giving them any less, but at the same time I wouldn't pay more for it. $20 is about the perfect spot for a game of this complexity.
Gameplay Related "Gibbah"
One of the most popular levels is (ISS) a nearly destroyed space station orbiting earth. Another (The Arc) takes place in asteroid debris orbiting earth, another (Moondust) on a very large asteroid orbiting earth, and the last (Flipside) is a large, destroyed space station orbiting the moon. My favorite level is ISS because it's very balanced in terms of fragging potential. You can go "rambo" with your automatic fire, you can snipe, you can flee when it's necessary, it's not too big, not too small. It seems like the perfect map. My worst map is moondust. It's HUGE and it's too easy to get killed by snipers.
There are 3 gametypes, Skirmish, Battle and Assault. The game revolves around teams, so the gametypes are basically variations of team deathmatch. Skirmish is classic Team Deathmatch where only the team with the most points wins. Battle and Assault are nearly identical with small differences. They both have points that the teams must capture. Battle is basically a tug of war. In Battle, both teams must fight for all of the points. Once a team has all the points, that team is the winner. Points can be reclaimed. In Assault, one team starts with all of the points and the other must steal them. Once a point has been taken, it cannot be reclaimed. The defending team wins when the time runs out. My favorite gametype is Battle because it can last a long time and doesn't boil down to just free for all killing. It's the perfect balance between the other 2 gametypes.
The game has only 1 weapon, but it serves many purposes. It's both a long range, medium range and a melee weapon. The primary fire mode is an automatic fire, which is HIGHLY inaccurate, making it useless at long range. You can compensate by throwing EMP grenades (which I will explain in a minute) or using your thrusters. The Secondary is a burst fire sniper-like mode. Luckily, the developers have implemented a few handicaps for this to prevent campers from having a hay day. When you fire in zoomed mode, your gun kicks back temporarily obscuring your view. Your gun waves slightly making it more difficult to hit your target. The more you shoot, if you get shot at, or if you strafe left and right, your gun waves about making it very difficult to aim. You're essentially a sitting duck. On top of that, your bullets have EXTREMELY bright glows revealing your location as soon as you shoot. It is very difficult to effectively camp in this game, which earns the "Neil Seal of Approval".
The gun can also shoot 3 types of grenades. The first is an EMP which temporarily disables an enemies suit functions making them unable to hear, unable to control their thrusters, and their aiming is extremely slowed; however, they can still attack you. The EMP grenade is also really annoying because it's merely a stun grenade. Once all of the noobs discover it, the game quickly evolves into stun grenade mayhem. The second is a standard grenade. It blows up, it deals damage. I have several complaints about this: 1. it doesn't make enemies knock back enough. 2. it has a very pitiful radius of damage. I can't even kill a player with 3 grenades unless they're all placed perfectly. 3. I pretty much said it, they don't deal enough damage. The last is an ICE grenade which doesn't deal any damage. It serves as a stealth assist making it easy to capture enemy points or flee an area when under attack. It's pretty useful if you know how to use it.
It took me a while to figure this out, but the longer you hold down your grenade key, the further your grenades shoot before detonating. Unfortunately, there isn't any kind of indicator to see how long you've charged your grenade, which in my opinion really sucks. I wonder if they did that on purpose to handicap players or if they simply neglected this.
The one thing that really disappoints is the lack of multiple weapons. This game could really use some innovative weapons, but I'm not sure how they could go about providing them. Personally, I prefer the well thought out placement of weapons around maps, but in recent years those kinds of games are disappearing. Now, you either start with every weapon, or you can choose a loadout. Honestly though, Shattered Horizon would be better off with weapons placed around the maps, where the players start with limited pistols and must pick up their trusty assault or find another weapon, but that would only truly work in Skirmish mode. The other modes would have to use selective Loadouts, but this is all just pipe dreaming. The game doesn't have either methods at the present and that's a real downer.
The thrusters allow you to boost for a short period of time, but since you're in space, you keep your momentum. This is very useful for getting from area to area or escaping enemy fire. You can latch on to any surface and walk. This is great for sniping because it improves your accuracy tremendously, but it encourages camping. One of the cool things you can do is latch onto a surface directly below a capture point. Enemies will be confused and you can steal the point without them knowing.
You can roll by holding down your Roll key and moving your mouse from left to right, but I think this would be better as separate Roll Left and Roll Right keys. The current method requires you to stop firing or maneuvering and that can mean your death in the middle of a battle. You can still shoot and move if you are good at pressing weird combinations of keys with both hands, but good luck doing that.
The one thing that really angers me is getting hit with an EMP grenade because it cripples your movement severely making you a sitting target for all in the area, but I understand it's there for realistic appeal. I can't really complain that things should be done differently since this is an adequate way already, but they could have merely rendered you slightly crippled rather than extremely so you have a chance to fight back. Oh, and there is a function that lets you turn off your suit functions which serves a few purposes. It makes you extremely quiet, you don't produce any lights when thrusting because you can't thrust, it makes you extremely hard to see, it takes you off the enemy radar and you can't latch onto any surfaces to snipe easier. The downside is, you're EXTREMELY vulnerable, and it's almost one of those useless things like "Feign Death" from the Unreal Tournament games.
This is one of the hardest games I've played in a long time, but it's also one of the easiest. It's hard in the sense that it really makes me work for my kills, but easy in the sense that I've been playing games like this for a long time, so it really hits home for me. The noobs will have a really hard time getting used to the gameplay. There's no single player mode and it is all slaughter based skill. The only way to get good is to get slaughtered. This game is also so new that it has yet to be exploited by the highly competitive gamers, and I dread the thought of that day. Hopefully, finding a suitable counter measure isn't too difficult, but I have a feeling my days are numbered unless I can keep up and get good along with the rest. The game just might spiral into a pros-only community where all of the noobs and potential pros are scared away, but as long as I don't think about it, I'll be okay. That's just something to consider if you want to try your luck on this game.
Shattered Horizon has incredibly good graphics The game has everything you'd expect from a modern 3d game including latest shader technology, ambient occlusion, dynamic soft shadows, reflections, glows... you name it. It is practically a DirectX 10 and 11 advertisement since it does not support DirectX9, in other words all OS predating Windows Vista. I can live with that since I recently upgraded to Windows 7, but many can't since they won't make the leap to Vista/Win7 for whatever reason. There are 2 immediate things that really annoy me. The game runs like ASS at highest graphics on my system, and that's pretty pathetic. I have an 8800GTX, 4GB of DDR2 800 Ram, and an AMD 6000+ 3.0Ghz. This game looks as nice as Crysis at times, but it has a much visibly lower poly count and runs worse, which is absolutely no excuse. It's definitely playable, but I expect it to perform better on a computer of my specs. I will admit, this may be nVidia's fault, and they may drastically improve performance of the game with a driver update. My friend says his game runs buttery smooth on an ATI 4870, which is generously faster than my current videocard, but not "holy shit" faster.
I can't really say much about the interface other than it's not UT3s (Unreal Tournament 3). UT3s menu/interface was a disaster, a true testament to what PC gaming interfaces SHOULD NOT BE... and thankfully, Shattered Horizon has an interface that doesn't stink. It's simple for a simple game, but not too simple. The one thing I can say that really disappoints is the lack of an FOV (field of view) adjustment slider. This may have been at the developers will to neglect this, or they simply don't think changing the FOV was important enough to include. The game defaults somewhere around 60-80 FOV, which is extremely difficult to adjust to (I come from the UT2004 days when changing almost anything was possible). Another thing--the game could use in game, push-to-talk voice chat and lots of settings, but I have Ventrilo and that's enough for me. Still, the game should have included it just to keep up with the more modern games.
Take a look at the Interface
Shattered Horizon treads lightly when it comes to realism. Its the perfect amount of sci-fi for the time in which it takes place. At first glance, you might think sound in space is impossible, which it is... and this game has a very meaningful way of adding it without stepping on the foots of skeptical sci-fi'ers. At the beginning of the match, your suit's voice says something about initiating audio simulation... which is a fancy way of saying everything you hear, whether it's gunfire, footsteps, thrusters, or any kind of sounds are being produced by the suit based on what's going on outside. This makes the game more interesting but at the same time, it's reasonable to say it adds that extra bit of much needed believability. When you get hit with an EMP grenade, the sounds of gunfire and explosions dampen due to your suit malfunctioning. Cool, huh?
I'm not sure whether to call this a result of realism, or bad gameplay implementation. When you use your thrusters, it temporarily disables your ability to shoot your gun. If this were real life, nothing should prevent you from shooting your gun because your finger is always on the trigger. At the very least, you should be able to shoot your gun but be horribly inaccurate until your gun finishes animating after it returns to it's normal position. This could mean saving your ass if you have good reflex. Also, you can't melee attack until you've finished thrusting and the animation of your gun returns to its normal position. You should be able to interrupt thrusting and melee attack almost instantly, because as it stands, melee is extremely difficult already. There's no reason to unnecessarily handicap something like that.
Dedicated Servers and Custom Maps
It's too soon to say if you'll be able to purchase or rent your own dedicated server for this game. Honestly, I don't know if you can, but I'm hopeful the servers will be available. I can't wait to see what kinds of creative mods are possible with this game. Also, since this is using the Futuremark Engine, there isn't a map editor, which means no custom maps. That may change in the near future with the release of a map editor, but I honestly don't think that will happen. I believe we're at the mercy of Futuremark for all downloadable content and dedicated servers.
I can honestly say that Shattered Horizon is not a bad game and I suggest it if you're a diehard FPS, and you'll know what I mean once you watch the gameplay videos. The game takes a unique concept like space fighting and takes it to the brink of absolute realism, without being dull and unworthy of playing. As my friend would say, its a "project game". It's not meant to be one of those games with 12 sequels, or begin a collective following. It's supposed to be "fun" and unique. I hope Futuremark continues to make games, because they have a lot of untapped potential just waiting to shine through. I have to stop and think about who I suggest this game to, because it's extremely difficult. There are a lot of keys to master and it demands ambidextrous perfection. It's for gamers that are already accustomed to the gameplay and have what it takes to be good. This is definitely one of those games where, the better you are at it, the more fun you'll have. Noobs might have to pass this game up, although I gladly welcome them. They give me something to shoot at! :)
Check out this gameplay video made by me. Be sure to watch it in glorious HD!
Last Updated (Thursday, 13 May 2010 09:05)
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