CellFactor: Combat Training

You can't release a mould-breaking piece of hardware like the world's first consumer-level physics processing unit and not have any games available for it. To that end, AGEIA has nurtured the development of CellFactor: Combat Training and released a free demo so that "PhysX Accelerator owners can now get the revolutionary FPS that takes gameplay to a new level of interaction." Quite some claim.

The premise is classic FPS gameplay with a 2006 physics-flavoured twist. There is currently only one level - Fueling Station - which is an Unreal Tournament-esque cliffside romp across several large, open platforms. You can Deathmatch online individually or in TeamDM, or Capture the Flag though unless you have friends with PPU cards, we suspect many early adopters will be playing offline with bots.


BFG Tech AGEIA PhysX PPU CellFactor: Combat Training BFG Tech AGEIA PhysX PPU CellFactor: Combat Training
Outside the bog standard run-shoot gameplay, each player can use Jedi Knight-alike Force Pull / Force Push powers to use surrounding objects as weapons. This is where the power of the PhysX processor really kicks in; indeed, a PPU card is required to play the game. The level is littered with boxes, crates, concrete pipes and other debris.

You can use your Force powers to clear a path for you (though doing so is likely to give away your position) but it is the ability to shower your opponents with objects that will bring the biggest smile to your face. Your best efforts are rewarded by the sound of a "PhysX kill".


BFG Tech AGEIA PhysX PPU CellFactor: Combat Training BFG Tech AGEIA PhysX PPU CellFactor: Combat Training
BFG Tech AGEIA PhysX PPU CellFactor: Combat Training BFG Tech AGEIA PhysX PPU CellFactor: Combat Training
Also on show are PhysX's advanced cloth routines. At one end of the level is the multistory tapestry shown above. Revealing CellFactor's roots as a tech demo, this serves no real purpose in terms of gameplay - it is there purely to look cool when you rip it to shreds with your rifle. In that context, it suceeds admirably. Rendering believable cloth is one of the hardest things you can do in games, and while some have nailed the flappy-towel-on-a-clothes-line effect (even interacting with the player in some cases) we have never seen destructible cloth like this before.

Overall, CellFactor: Combat Training is a pretty cool demo of what may lie ahead for PPU-enabled games, but beyond that, it is of little value. Like PowerVR and Ultim@te Race, it serves as an eye-catching demo that will no doubt be used to stimulate retail sales but the appeal wears off rather quickly and you will find yourself yearning after a "real" game to play.

Let's go find some...
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