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PC Game Review- Shattered Horizon

January 22, 2010

Combine zero gravity, the everlasting abyss of space and highly powered assault rifles, and you’ll end up with Shattered Horizons. Shattered Horizons puts you inside an airtight suit and releases you into the dark void that is space. Along with your trusty firearm you are pitted against the opposing team in one of three different game modes. Given there’s no gravity in the void of space, the majority of your travelling is done by drifting through the open void and using your thrusters when necessary. Once you get used to controlling yourself in an area without gravity, moving across the maps is quite fun. It’s almost as if you’re playing a flight simulation, but of course you can land on surfaces and walk around with artificial gravity if you prefer. Being a game without gravity really does draw quite a few similarities to flight sims. You can be shot from any direction and depending on how you move the positioning of your body, you can be attacking enemies while upside down, at 180 degree angels or attached to a floating asteroid. Aside from the obvious difference of being in a zero gravity situation, the combat is similar to any other shooter. You can get head shots or go up to an enemy and melee them if you get close enough, although that opportunity may be infrequent. Also, as you are in a space suit, you can shoot an opposing player from behind and cause their tank to explode, killing them instantly. Your suit does regenerate health, so if you get away from the battle long enough you can recover from a firefight. You also have limited thrust capability but it does refill after short periods of time, so it is helpful to use it strategically in tricky situations.

As of the release of the game there is only one available weapon, an assault rifle that includes the ability to zoom in with a scope. Since your enemies can be an extreme distance away and are likely always moving through space, it could be difficult to gauge if you were doing any damage. This problem is overcome by way of if you are hitting the opposing player you get an audio feed back that lets you know that your shots are making contact. In all likelihood more weapons will be released, but for now the one weapon does a good job of making the game entertaining. Your weapon also allows you to fire three different grenades, EMP, ICE and MPR. EMP disables the powers to suits and weapons (including your own so be careful), ICE creates a smoke like screen to hide behind, and MPR creates a blast that causes other players to go flying in all directions. These can all be strategically used to disabled a group of enemies or stop opposing teams from capturing an objective. Your suit also allows you to go into silent mode which turns off all systems and makes you less visible to the enemy. This is useful if you want to drift by enemies unnoticed or approach from behind and take them out via melee without them having any idea of your presence.

The game only comes with one class so your only real decision is what one of the 4 maps you wish to play, which game mode you’d like to play, and which faction you’d like to play as. There are two sides in this game, the ISA (International Space Agency) and the MMC (The Moon Mining Cooperative). The 3 available modes are all pretty standard, there’s team deathmatch, assault, which pits one team to capture all objectives while the other team defends, and finally a tug of war type battle where each team attacks and defends separate points simultaneously until one team controls them all.

The major problem with Shattered Horizons is its lack of depth. As it is a multiplayer only game there is little need for a strong story, and that is too be expected. The real problem is in the lack of maps, weapons, classes and game modes. All this of course can be fixed with expansion packs and Futuremark Game Studios has already promised free additional content. If they are able to add these additional features which are lacking at release, it will turn this twenty dollar purchase to even more of a steal.

Shattered Horizons has some steep system requirements. If you think your computer might not be able to handle a higher end game, then you’re likely correct. If you don’t own Windows Vista or Windows 7 and a Direct X 10 video card, you are out of luck. There is no support for XP nor anything lower than DX10. What this does mean though is that if you have a computer that is powerful enough to run this game, you’re in for some eye candy. Shattered Horizons looks fantastic, and as you drift through space and stare down at earth you can understand why the minimum requirements are so high. Surprisingly, Shattered Horizons also takes into account that there is no sound is space. That is why it was quite enjoyable to see that when you boot up your suit all the sound you hear is ‘simulated’ through the machine and that if you go into silent mode you get to enjoy the silence of the dark and expansive abyss.

Shattered Horizons is a solid, enjoyable multiplayer experience that takes an original idea and creates a game that is easy to enjoy. If Futuremark is able to release enough new content to keep things original and attract new gamers, this game could have legs. As it stands now, at the price of only twenty dollars and what content you do received, Shattered Horizons is definitely worth buying. If you’re in the market for a new shooter to play with some friends and experience something a bit more original than the typical FPS, this game is for you. Stellar graphics, innovating gameplay that lets you float through space with a gun and the promise of new content make Shattered Horizons a game you should not let drift by.

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