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Crystal Dyanamics shooter represents a strong, enjoyable, action-packed romp...
Set amidst a near-future war being staged in Hong Kong, Project: Snowblind is yet another first-person-shooter; however a combination of exciting weapons, clever gadgets and special abilities is enough to lift Crystal Dynamicâ??s title above the competition.
Allegedly stemming from the rumours of an action-based title set in the Deus Ex universe, Project: Snowblind shares similarities to the Ion Storm classic, although it is in itself a distinctly different offering to what Warren Spector and his team gave us in the much loved PC original and the controversial PC/Xbox sequel.
Players assume the role of Nathan Frost, and begin the game as a regular grunt for the Liberty Coalition on a routine peacekeeping mission within the hostile region. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the game, introducing you to basic weapons, the intense action and your fellow squad-members.
However itâ??s only when youâ??ve cleared everything out and look as though youâ??re heading home when things go disastrously wrong. Caught up in an explosion, the game actually properly begins with the near death of Frost as he undergoes experimental surgery to keep him alive. The outcome of the surgery in a Robocop styled situation is something more then human, a transformation that turns Frost into a unique weapons-grade warrior, with abilities that far surpass those of the average soldier.
Empowered with extra-normal abilities thanks to his implanted augmentations, Frost is sent to the frontline as a secret weapon against the destructive regime. Despite its obvious similarities to the Deus Ex series, the storyline is somewhat comical in comparison and plays second-fiddle to the actual gameplay with its clichéd characters and unsurprising plot progression.
Thankfully however the solid gameplay more then makes up for the somewhat shallow and lacking storyline, packing a variety of interesting weapons and gadgets along with a nice balance between mission objectives. A large part of the game is played out with the support of your fellow Liberty Coalition squad-mates, and thanks to the largely satisfactory AI these play out well and convey the sense of a war-torn region accurately. In between these sections Frost will also engage in missions on his own, which switches the emphasis from action to more of a puzzle dynamic as you hack into computer terminals to open security doors and take control of bots. To spice up the action a little, Project: Snowblind also features a small selection of controllable vehicles, which whilst providing some variation to the standard fare is nothing to trouble the likes of Halo 2.
As weâ??ve stated previously itâ??s the weapons, gadgets and special abilities that provide Project: Snowblindâ??s strongest aspect and manage to lift it above the deluge of first-person-shooters on the market. Old favourites such as the shotgun, rocket launcher and carbines all feature, but thanks to some decidedly brilliant secondary-fire features they end up being considerably different to anything weâ??ve seen in the past â?“ case in question the sticky bomb secondary fire of the shotgun. One of our particular favourites is the HERF Gun, which can take out humans and robots alike with its short-range electrical charge; however its secondary fire can be linked across multiple targets, chaining together up to six opponents at a time â?“ particularly neat. The sheer variety offered by the secondary fire creates a neat sensation of diversity within the game, presenting the player with a wide range of mechanics and strategic possibilities and represents some of the finest designs that the genre has to offer.
The largest hint of the gameâ??s origins comes in the form of the BioMod augmentations available to you. Beginning with an â??enhanced visionâ? upgrade that allows you to see enemy characters behind walls, extra abilities such as slowing down time, impenetrable shields, invisibility and being able to fry robots with an electric charge are soon added to the playerâ??s roster. Thereâ??s also a wide selection of gadgets such as a temporary shield and enough grenade variations to keep any megalomaniac happy.
Perhaps one of the most startling aspects is just how remarkable Project: Snowblind looks, particularly on the ageing Playstation2. The gameâ??s Hong Kong setting mixes in elements of the new and old to great effect, creating an overall style akin to Blade Runner. The game utilises strong lighting effects to wonderful results, creating a saturated look that marks it well and truly above the majority of the competition; coupled with this is a neat depth-blur technique, which helps to ensure the somewhat simplistic texture designs look far superior to what they actually are. There are one or two touches that mar the overall effect, such as a repetition of death animations and the lack of localised damage for opponents, which in this day and age does tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
Sadly the single-player campaign is over all too soon and likely to task the vast majority of gamers around the 10 hour mark; but thankfully Project: Snowblind features a robust multiplayer mode that significantly extends its lifespan.
Featuring support for up to 16 players on either Xbox Live! or PS2 Online, the game doesnâ??t make any attempt to radically revolutionise what weâ??ve come to expect from first-person-shooters, but its strong gameplay and enjoyable weapons/gadgets/abilities helps to make this one of the most enjoyable online console shooters. The standard variety of DeathMatch and Capture-The-Flag variants all feature, whilst thereâ??s enough customisation options to ensure youâ??ll create the exact experience youâ??re after. Sadly thereâ??s no support for splitscreen whatsoever, although given the relative size of the maps and their support for 16-players, 4-player splitscreen just wouldnâ??t be up to scratch.
But it’s this focus on action, strong weapons and robust gameplay that proves to be Project: Snowblind’s strongest aspect; it’s just a good, solid, enjoyable romp with a strong multiplayer component.
If you’re not the biggest first-person-shooter fan and have had your fair share of blasting action over the last 12 months, then there’s little of anything substantially new or different to make Project: Snowblind a worthwhile purchase; but for those that can’t get enough of first-person-shooters, the game represents everything that is good about the genre and chucks in one or two neat concepts that lift it above the competition.
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