First person shooters have become more commonplace on this generation of consoles. For a while a large number of FPS games have been set in World War II or Vietnam. Now it seems that several of them are set in a sci-fi setting. Some of the most recent sci-fi shooter games have been Halo 2 and TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. Now Eidos is getting into the act with Crystal Dynamics’ Project: Snowblind.
In P:S, you play Nathan Frost, a soldier that was injured in the line of duty trying to rescue another member of the squad. However, through the miracle of modern technology, he is able to recover from his injuries through bio-augments that also enhance him. Jack needs to put these bio-enhancements to good use if he is going to defeat the enemy.
The graphics in P:S are generally well done. The character animations for running and walking look realistic. While the polygon counts are a bit low for the characters, the textures on the characters help. However, they still seem to look a bit blocky, especially the faces of the characters when you get too close to them. They are too long, and the lips just don’t move with the speech as well as in other games.
The environments are believable. The effects of the war are easily seen. Fires flare up from explosions. Buildings have holes from the explosions. Craters abound outside from the bombs dropped in the area. Everything feels dirty.
While moving through the buildings, the textures all look similar. In fact, a lot of the game looks the same. While enemies are wearing masks, it still feels like the variety of enemies is lacking. It feels like the number of different enemies could be counted on one hand. More variety would have been appreciated.
A few of the animations are a bit odd. A good portion of the game I used the Carbine gun. Whenever I would kill an enemy, he would drop to his knees and fall forward. This seemed unrealistic, especially when every single one of them would fall the same way.
The lighting effects are spectacular. When using your bio-augments, the lighting really shows off. One effect lets you see enemies through walls. A bio-shield is close to a personal lightning shield. The blur effect of slowing time is better than the one used in Enter the Matrix.
The music in P:S does it’s job. It gives you the feeling of a patriotic movement while having a futuristic techno vibe. The music is rather quiet though, never overpowering the action.
The voice acting seems to be done well. The main character does come across as a bit deadpan at times, and a few of the other characters suffer from a bit of overacting. Most of the voices do a good job of conveying the emotion of the person speaking.
The gunfire effects do feel a bit muted. While the rocket launcher packs a punch, the explosion sounds a bit muffled. The other weapons of the game have this same issue. While most of the other effects fit well, such as picking up health packs and weapon clips, it’s disappointing to have the weapons sounds muffled.
Anyone who has played a console FPS game will feel right at home here. The left and right analog sticks control looking and movement. Up and down on the D-pad cycles primary weapons. Right on the D-pad cycles secondary weapons and left cycles through the augmentations. Selecting the correct augment or secondary weapon never felt intuitive for some reason, and often I would try to switch the secondary weapon by hitting left on the D-pad, but it’s understandable that the PS2 controller only has so many buttons.
The R1 and R2 buttons are the primary and secondary fire buttons for the main weapon, and L1 uses a secondary weapon. Triangle uses and cancels the bio-augmentation, square picks up and uses objects, X jumps, and circle crouches.
A common complaint about shooters about the PS2 is that there seems to be a bit too much dead zone in the analog sticks. This issue shows up here in P:S as well. The aiming never feels quite tight enough.
When first starting P:S, you are fighting with the squad. The firefights here are intense. With the enemy fire coming from all directions, there is a real sense of confusion until you get your bearings. Moving from one area to the next gives you a bit of a breather, but the action doesn’t let up for long.
After this introduction, you see Nathan Frost go after one of his squad mates. Nathan is critically injured, but he is able to survive because of the bio-augmentations. These allow Nathan to have special abilities to become a one-man army. Early on Nathan has the ability to slow down time and see enemies through walls and in dark places.
Once leaving surgery, Nathan collects his weapons and is briefed for the mission at hand. Then he is sent out to support the squad he is with. These situations are where the game really shines. Unfortunately, once entering building within the game, you lose your squad and the pace of the game slows down.
Entering the buildings makes it feel like P:S wants to be a partial stealth game with some action elements. However, P:S is no Splinter Cell. Nathan does gain an invisibility bio-augment, the game isn’t suited for stealth. Nathan can crouch and move around slowly, you will still make noise. Shooting cameras or hacking them will help to avoid alarms going off. The pace of the game just deadens to a crawl though, and the adrenaline of the initial levels is out the window.
P:S does provide several multiplayer options. The typical vanilla Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag modes are available. Also included is Hunter, where one player is invisible with more health and all weapons and bio-augments. The player with the most points at the end wins. Assault and Tactical Assault has teams defending a generator while attempting to destroy the opposing teams. The Tactical Assault game includes disabling generator shields first. Quick Demolition has teams searching for a bomb and transporting it to locations inside the enemy base.
Multiplayer modes have clans that can be created and classes to select. These classes have different primary and secondary weapons and bio-augments. The booklet does mention that large-scale games will most likely have less than optimal performance because of the PS2 hardware limitations.The single-player game is short. Most gamers should be able to get it done in a rental period without too much problem. If you enjoy the multi-player aspect of the game, then P:S has plenty of options that can keep you occupied for a while. However, those who don’t play multi-player games often or don’t have a broadband connection will feel shafted by the longevity of the game.