ShootMania certainly isn't your standard first-person shooter. It doesn't have a huge selection of weapons--in fact, your arsenal never grows beyond one weapon. You don't sit and wait or sneakily stealth your way across a map to take out your enemies, either. Nadeo's shooter is all about momentum and annihilating your opponents as fast as you can. You stop, you die.
ShootMania: Storm is Nadeo's latest entry in the ongoing "mania" series of games. Cut from the same cloth as TrackMania, ShootMania is all about simple, fun online action infused with player customisation. The control scheme is simple, placing the emphasis on jumping, pointing, and shooting. You can move fluidly across maps, gunning down foes without hindrance. From the controls to the maps, game modes to gameplay, everything is simple to pick up and play. But ShootMania's simplicity is, at this stage at least, also the reason it's so much fun.
In true arena-based style, you can jump high and move quick, but ShootMania's flow seems more akin to the recent Tribes: Ascend than older arena-based shooters such as Quake III. This is partially due to all of the maps being based outside; hills, buildings, and other such terrain make jumping and moving lightning quick, a feeling similar to the thrill of skiing and launching in Tribes.
Controlling just a cursor on the screen, you take control of a Tron-esque character covered in brightly coloured armour and armed with a wrist device that shoots bright and colourful lasers. You are unable to see the device onscreen--to begin with, this feels rather odd, but it soon becomes apparent that this allows you more screen in which to spot enemies. Players all look like bright LED lights whizzing through the landscapes--it's quite a spectacle on night-based maps, where bright player armour and lasers create fireworks of colours across the map.
Although the game is simple to play, quick reactions and the ability to quickly guess where your opponent will jump next become essential skills to doing well. The frantic back-and-forth shooting can lead to exciting and nerve-shredding moments, with each player being able to survive only two hits before being vaporized. ShootMania also boasts a wide variety of customisation options, from the simple player armor down to being able to create your own game modes. With the ManiaScript option, you will be able to create your own maps and game modes, allowing you to tweak the gameplay exactly how you like it.
The simple, frantic action allows for nonstop movement, which requires your concentration every second of the game. With Nadeo and Ubisoft trying to sell ShootMania to competitive gamers and followers of associations such as MLG (an attitude quite apparent in their E3 press conference), they're clearly aiming for a crowded market. Although only in alpha, ShootMania: Storm is already displaying the signs of a game that could be successful both casually and competitively. Be sure to check out the gameplay clips that we captured above, and if you like the look of the game, be sure to check out the Cyberathlete Summit on Saturday June 23, 2012, which will be streamed live on Own3D--keep an eye out for the channel details closer to the event.