ECTS 2001: First look: Project Nomads

This game from the developers of Urban Assault combines action and strategy elements and takes place in a fantastical aerial world.

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CDV is showing Project Nomads on the ECTS show floor, and the game's attractive graphics and unusual aerial mechanics drew us in at first glance. The game takes place in a world of magic and technology where the only inhabitable landmass left is an archipelago of islands floating in the air. As the game starts out, various tribes of human nomads vie for control of the islands, but the true threat--an insectlike alien race--soon presents itself. You control a spell-casting nomad who can levitate in the air to move between the islands, building bases and taking direct control of turrets and flying vehicles as necessary.

The game is being developed by the same team that developed Urban Assault for Microsoft, and it blends real-time strategy elements with a core of third-person action gameplay. Your character uses iconic artifacts as the basis for constructing new base structures or casting offensive and defensive spells. The primary way to gain more of these key resources is to attack enemy structures and pick up the artifacts that spawn in the rubble. Only your main character can pick up artifacts, so you can't just rely on fighting from a distance using the game's air vehicles. You'll also need to pick and choose among the spells you pick up, since you have a limited inventory for artifacts.

After more than two years in development, Project Nomads recently got a serious graphical makeover that added lots of touches that will make it shine on a fast PC or perhaps even an Xbox. The world of Project Nomads looks very crisp, and there are plenty of details such as ambient wildlife and large animated buildings that add a lot of visual interest. As you adventure through the game's 25 missions, you'll encounter a variety of environments, as the lower island layers are filled with fire and smoke, while those that reach furthest into the atmosphere are sunny and have plenty of flowers and highly detailed foliage.

CDV is understandably excited about this game. It won the best PC game award at ECTS, and may well land on an Xbox near you next year if CDV gets approval from Microsoft. CDV expects to know very soon whether the game will receive initial approval as a third-party Xbox title. In order to make sure that the control scheme is as intuitive as possible, the team is strictly devoted to using gamepads to test the game, although mouse-and-keyboard controls will also naturally be available on the PC. Work on the PC version of the game is scheduled to wrap up in the middle of next year.

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