Shattered Horizon Review

Written by Mark Mackay

November 7, 2009 | 13:34

Tags: #first-person-shooter #fps #multiplayer #online #shattered-horizon #shooter #zero-g #zero-gravity

Companies: #futuremark

Gameplay

In many aspects of life, focusing your efforts on a specific angle will help you achieve success in whichever task you’re working on. This holds true for games too. As mentioned, Shattered Horizon’s most unique angle is the colostomy zero-gravity combat and it feels as though Futuremark has put a lot of effort into focusing on this aspect.

For example, nowhere in the game will you find any power-ups of any description. There’s no armour, no quad-damage and no additional weapons other than the one in your hand when you spawn. You won’t find so much as a can of Red Bull to give you an item-based advantage over your competitors. Variety may well be the spice of life but in Shattered Horizon, the vacuum of space isn’t all that flavoursome.

This decision has the potential to make for some snooze-worthy fps action. The lack of power-ups was going to leave a lot of weight for the zero-g combat system to carry - more on this in a moment though as your single gun does have a few more tricks up its barrel than a simple vanilla pew-pew option: those tricks come in form of grenades.

Shattered Horizon Review Shattered Horizon - Gameplay
EMP grenades stun opponents within the area of effect, making mowing them down as easy as taking moonrock from a orbital body

There are three varieties of grenades. Ice grenades are the equivalent of the smoke variety in other FPS games, providing cover for you and your comrades. Next up is the MPR variety which blast an enemy away from you or out of a cover position. Finally, EMP grenades will temporarily stun anyone in its blast radius, crippling their space suit thrusters and making them easier to gun down. Other than making sure your team mates are in the correct position for attack and defence procedures, co-ordinating use of different grenade types is one of the few ways to really incorporate team strategy into the game play. All grenades and other ammunition will affect your comrades as much as your enemies so careful deployment of your weapons is a necessity.

There's also a stealthy silent-movement feature but we didn't feel it added a great deal to the gameplay. If you're on a full 32-man server then the likelihood of being able to sneak up on a control point swarming with players without a hail of bullets to your suit causing your eyes popping out of your sockets from de-pressurisation is highly unlikely. You'll want a full server too as the large maps feel a little empty with a small handful of players rattling around them which makes for some slow game play.

Going some way to make up for the lack of med-kits is that your health will recover to 50 per cent after a gun fight, so seeking cover to re-generate is a good tactic if you come out on top. A good way to ensure that this happens as often as possible is the fight while grounded. This will increase your acccuracy, giving you the edge over a flying opponent. Your gun also has a scope which is all but useless when floating amidst moon debris and storage containers. Land on the ground however, and you can use it to snipe your opponents from afar. A shot through the visor or jet-pack will insta-pop your foe, but the scope causes massive recoil on your gun so your first shot will have to be accurate lest you leave yourself open for incoming fire for a valuable second or so.

Shattered Horizon Review Shattered Horizon - Gameplay Shattered Horizon Review Shattered Horizon - Gameplay
Tutorials in the game come in the form of overlays that can be toggled using the F keys. Considering there isnt much to learn, they provide adequate informations to get your started

With no power ups in sight and all of your equipment locked and loaded each time you spawn, much of your focus when you start playing the game is making your way skillfully round the map. At first, changing between surfaces and trying to mow down your opponent is like trying to swim with your hands and feet tied together and lumps of moon rock your shoes. However while this analogy would likely result in a decidedly uncomfortable case of death, getting a grip on Shattered Horizon’s lack of gravity isn’t quite as bad. In fact when you do, it’s a blast.

Space bar will see your character rise and shift will make you sink down towards the nearest surface. Holding your right mouse button and moving the mouse left or right will turn you left or right so you can level which ever surface you’re looking at. The default controls feel a little counter intuitive at first but then, considering you’re floating around 200 odd miles above Earth’s surface, it’s only right that moving around takes some getting used to. However after an hour or two of play, you'll be maneuvering like a pro.
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