LOS ANGELES--One of the pleasures of every E3 is finding those diamonds in the rough, the games that you notice out of the corner of your eye and that look like they have a lot of promise. While Alliance: The Secret War, a first-person shooter from Windward Mark Interactive, is still a way off from being released, and currently doesn't even have a publisher, we're hoping that it delivers on the promise of its premise.
The story of Alliance: The Secret War revolves around a family of soldiers. You'll be playing as different members of this family across 90 years' worth of military encounters, starting in World War I and coming all the way up to the present day. Along the way, you'll discover that there's a shadowy organization manipulating governments and fomenting all of the world's revolutionary wars for their own dark purposes.
Although we weren't treated to much of the game's storyline beyond that brief snippet, from the trailer that was on display we'd say that the gameplay is looking pretty slick. The E3 level takes place in Egypt in the early 1970s, around the time of the Yom Kippur War, and features some close-range firefights while also showing off some of the destructible environments. In one instance, a gunner in a large tower pins you down, and you're incapable of firing back, so you have to draw his fire long enough for one of your teammates to destroy the tower, which topples gloriously to the streets below. Another cool aspect of the gameplay is the ability to use dead bodies as "organic cover" (in the words of the developers); they'll take bullets and flop around as you hold them in front of you.
Note the "incapable of firing back" section of the above paragraph. That wasn't a result of a lack of ammo or anything; instead, the game keeps track of all the different real-world statistics of the different weapons you're fighting with, such as muzzle velocity, bullet distance, killing power, and so forth. (If that sounds complicated, keep in mind that Windward Mark is planning to include 200 weapons in the final game.) Primary among these are the range calculations, which are fed into an accuracy meter onscreen, which will tell you on the fly whether or not you have a chance to hit a distant target. If it's out of your range, you're more or less unable to kill him, if we understand the concept correctly, so you'll have to either switch weapons for distant targets or close in on them. Gravity is apparently also taken into effect, so if you spot a distant target with your sniper rifle, you'll have to accurately range in, or you'll wind up having your bullets drop short of your target.
One other cool thing about Alliance is its planned What If Scenario multiplayer feature. With it, server operators will be able to match up teams from different eras of warfare so that, for instance, Cuban revolutionaries could face off against World War II-era troops, or a brick of Navy Seals could take on a vastly larger group of WWI soldiers. The idea is to have technological advantages mitigated by deficiencies of numbers so that the more-advanced armies will be outnumbered by the lower-tech forces. We didn't get to see this mode on display, but it sounds like a great idea.
The one word to sum up Alliance: The Secret War at this point in time would be "ambitious." With more than 200 weapons planned for the game, multiple environments and time periods to re-create, and an ambitious multiplayer setting in the works, we can only hope that the developers manage to deliver on the potential of the idea that they're working with. Since Alliance doesn't have a publisher as of yet, it's probably not going to be released in the immediate future, but we'll try to get more information on the game as it becomes available.