Project Snowblind Hands-On

This first-person shooter is heavily influenced by the cult PC role-playing game Deus Ex.

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Project: Snowblind's history alone will probably intrigue PC gamers. This futuristic first-person shooter, being published by Eidos, was originally going to be set in the same universe as Deus Ex, the acclaimed role-playing game that was also released by Eidos. Yet somewhere in development, Project: Snowblind lost the official ties to Deus Ex. But that divorce happened late in the process, resulting in the fact that Project: Snowblind still retains a look and feel that will undoubtedly remind you of Deus Ex. The console versions of Project: Snowblind shipped earlier this month, but the PC version is making its way toward stores this week, and we got a last-minute look at it before it arrives.

Project: Snowblind takes place in a futuristic Hong Kong, just like Deus Ex.
Project: Snowblind takes place in a futuristic Hong Kong, just like Deus Ex.

Though it shares a lot in common with Deus Ex, don't mistake Project: Snowblind for a role-playing game. This is very much a fast-paced, shoot-'em-up and then shoot-'em-up-some-more first-person shooter, judging from the action-packed opening levels. From the get-go, you'll be tossed into big firefights where you must defend against waves of incoming attackers as well as battle droids. In addition to being able to use weapons, such as assault rifles and grenades, you can man stationary weapons, like machine guns, to fend off attackers. And in order to accentuate the chaos of combat, the environment features destructible objects, so it's possible for machine gun fire to shatter stone railings, and so on.

The game's plot is somewhat similar to Robocop or even The Six Million Dollar Man. You play as a young soldier who is killed in action, only to be brought back by the miracle of science and nanotechnology as a cybernetic superwarrior. This means that in addition to being able to tote a lot of firepower around the battlefield and absorb a lot of punishment, you'll have enhanced abilities, courtesy of cybernetic implants that you pick up throughout the game. These include enhanced vision as well as ballistic protection against bullets. You'll also have the ability to hack into computer terminals to perform various tasks, like activating sentry games. Fans will know that both cybernetic implants and hacking were hallmarks of Deus Ex.

Even on a graphical front, Project: Snowblind has a very strong Deus Ex-like look and feel to it. For example, the game's Hong Kong setting mirrors that of Deus Ex's Hong Kong setting, and even the look of soldiers and vehicles is similar to those found in Deus Ex. However, it's also clear that the PC version of Project: Snowblind is a direct port of the console versions; the graphics are probably comparable to that of a PC game from three or four years ago. Aside from a generous use of light bloom, the low-res textures and relatively low number of polygons won't come close to taxing a modern PC. Still, the game does have a few advantages on the PC, namely the ability to run at higher resolutions.

Bonuses, such as enhanced vision, make up for being resurrected as a cyborg.
Bonuses, such as enhanced vision, make up for being resurrected as a cyborg.

The control scheme feels like it was heavily influenced by first being designed for a gamepad, since it can be a bit awkward and it doesn't seem to follow the traditional FPS controls for most PC games. Thankfully, you can remap all the key bindings to adjust to your tastes. Meanwhile, the PC version retains the console-style checkpoint save system. The multiplayer suite doesn't vary much from the console versions, as it supports up to 16 players in both Internet and LAN games, and there are 10 multiplayer maps to choose from.

In terms of graphics, Project: Snowblind doesn't compare well to the latest generation of first-person shooters on the PC, but the game's Deus Ex-style roots and promising storyline may very well be worth checking out, especially if you were a fan of Deus Ex. The PC version of Project: Snowblind ships this week.

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