It’s time to suit up and lock ‘n load again as the overflowing genre of first-person shooters get a new recruit in the shape of Zero Point Software’s Interstellar Marines. Touted by the developers as having a ‘heavy focus’ on realism as well as an ‘original and unpredictable’ story it appears as though it’s being pushed in a direction that will help it stand out from the crowd. At the moment though, Interstellar Marines is an early access alpha and only has the multiplayer component to toy around with. I was fortunate enough to get to see how things are shaping up.
After jumping into a server one thing became apparent quickly, IM has a simplistic beauty, its structures are bold, sharp and rectangular, and although there is not a stupendous amount of clutter littering the maps you get a sense of a clean, sterile almost clinical vibe. This doesn’t mean that they are devoid of any character however, as you will soon find out after a couple of rounds the time of day will change throwing the area into an eerie and foreboding darkness or dynamic events happen such as platforms raising or lowering. It’s a nice way to keep the levels feeling fresh but feels a little under-utilized by the developers, after all IM is set in an underground testing facility and everything is simulated so they could/can really go to town on making the maps truly dynamic.
Gunplay is excellent, the weapons have a real weight and unique feel to them, although it would have been nice to have a few extra choices and maybe some sort of thrown/grenade type. Death (although it’s actually incapacitation) is only ever a few well-placed shots away and IM has an interesting respawn mechanic, an almost 1-out 1-in system. The respawn timer is a lot longer than conventional FPS’s but you get the opportunity to spawn earlier if your team captures a point or kills an enemy player. This can lead to some tense moments when you are the last one alive and some team members are counting on you to get them back in the fight and whilst it might not be original it works well to inject some suspense.
At the moment, Interstellar Marines feels a little light on content and has some issues with FPS stuttering occasionally, which can make the game totally unplayable and completely frustrate you as it appears to be intermittent. Hopefully Zero Point Software can start adding and refining to the solid foundation that they have already put down and really help IM climb above the other offerings that are abundant in the PC gaming market. With the promise of co-op, single player and deep weapon and gear customization, all whilst retaining the emphasis on realism they certain have their work cut out. If you want to get a taste of IM without spending a penny then head on over to their website and register to get access to some prototype content that can be played direct from your browser.
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