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Preview of Upcoming PC FPS: Shattered Horizon

Man is back on the Moon and the companies that took him there are reaping huge profits. Their greed soon leads to the largest mining accident in history, when overexploitation of a risky new technique called Incite Mining leads to a catastrophe of unprecedented scale. An explosion throws billions of tons of rocky debris into near-Earth space, its aftershocks threatening to tear apart the Moon itself.

Fragments of the Moon settle around the Earth and become known as the Arc, named after the dramatic shape they draw across the night sky. With Earth surrounded by debris there's little chance of rescue or return for the thousands of people stranded in space.

The International Space Agency's astronauts and scientists trapped in the battered International Space Station are given the task of apprehending those responsible for the catastrophe. Weapons are among the last supplies sent to the station before the supply route from Earth is cut.
The Moon Mining Cooperative finds itself facing serious charges after only barely surviving the cataclysm. Cut off from Earth, they see independence and self-sufficiency as their only possible future and the ISA as a threat to their existence.
The two sides are drawn into an armed conflict. Desperate battles are fought over strategic locations and the scant supplies from Earth that make it through the shroud of debris. Control of the Arc now means the difference between survival and death in the cold of space.

This is the background story that drives Futuremark's first venture into the games market, and also into the furiously contested world of the FPS genre. So we were very eager to check out the progress of Shattered Horizon.
For those who are unaware of who Futuremark are then let me enlighten you with a slab of information to addle your brains with.

"Founded in 1997 as "Futuremark", the company is regarded as the leading producer of PC benchmarking applications. The most widespread of these applications is 3DMark which gamers across the globe strive to squeeze the maximum performance out of their gear to gain bragging rights over their very gaming peers by comparing scores online.

Soon after being founded the company altered its trading name to MadOnion.com, until finally settling on Futuremark Corporation in 2002. In January 2008, Futuremark announced the formation of the Futuremark Games Studio. In August 2008, at the Leipzig Games Convention, Futuremark Games Studio announced details of their first game: "Shattered Horizon."

Shattered HorizonI expect by now you're chomping at the proverbial bit for more information on what the game is actually like? Well, Shattered Horizon is a multiplayer first-person shooter, where players fight in zero gravity surrounded by the broken remains of orbital infrastructure and billions of tons of rocky debris, thrown into orbit by a huge explosion on the Moon.
With simple and intuitive controls players have complete freedom of movement, making full use of the distinctive environment to control the battle. Shattered Horizon rewards players with gameplay and tactics impossible in games constrained by gravity.

This pretty much opens up a whole new way of thinking strategy in terms of positioning, for both defending and attacking the map objective, as your enemy can literally be hidden away on the underbelly of some far off distant rock, underneath a walkway or even simply hovering above your head while you continue to think 2 dimensionally, like the majority of gamers do. Quite simply you do have to open your mind to all possibilities when it comes to this game. So combine this with its projected 32 player capability along with a prospect of destructible scenery, floating debris and the ability to go off in any direction you so wish, then the battlefield is going to get hairy, very hairy.

Now don't be expecting laser cannons of BFG-like proportions in this game, even though it's set in space and the future. The developers were keen to stress that the weaponry is going to stay akin to the modern day rifles that adorn the sweaty palms of the current generation of military personnel. So assault rifles with certain adaptations to make them viable in the cold expanse of space is what was on show in the preview, also attachments would be available for your rifle in the form of a scope or grenade launcher.

Other weapons will probably appear later on through the development but it was noted that weapons will not be added for the sake of adding them.

Even with the game code in a state of relative infancy, the section we were treated to still ran incredibly smoothly and looked extremely promising. Even though this is primarily a multiplayer title with no single player content, the actual background of the game, or game universe if you will, leaves so many possibilities for other titles that I'm sure an epic story-driven single player offering could well be on the cards. Having said that, I'm genuinely lost for words at how strong the story is and how much time and research has actually gone into creating the setting for Shattered Horizon.

I honestly cannot think of any other games developer who has taken the time to create such a believable universe for a multiplayer title. Generally things like this are jotted down on the back of a fast food restaurant napkin during a lunch break, so I do have to tip my hat to the Futuremark team on that point.

Shattered HorizonThe engine powering this impressive title is an evolution of the 3DMark Vantage system, so we can look forward to multi core support alongside PhysX technology and full usage of DirectX 10. But what this will mean is that Vista, or whatever iteration of Windows Bill Gates decides to inflict upon the world of our beige boxes is by the time Shattered Horizon is due for release, will need to be installed. So I'm sorry XP users but maybe it's time to make that switch. On the note of release dates, it's too hard to give a definitive answer when there is obviously so much work still to be completed in the game, but estimates place this title to hit the shelves Q3 2009. But rest assured it will be an exciting time keeping track of Shattered Horizon.

Wedgeh | 5th September, 2008
cloud_ds's picture
2002 time machine?
POBmaestro's picture
Great preview Wedgeh. Sounds like it's quite an exciting proposition

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