Crystal Dynamics
Eidos
FPS
1 (2-16)
02.22.05

Project: Snowblind


I first saw Project: Snowblind at last year's E3 (May 2004). While it wasn't playable, it was shown behind closed doors. Project: Snowblind is a FPS set in Hong Kong, in the not so distant future (2065). You play as Lt. Nathan Frost who had been suffering from an injury on the battlefield, and then undergoes a secret confidential surgery. His new extensive wartime abilities enable him to be the ultimate secret weapon. I want to make this point clear: Project: Snowblind is not just another ordinary first person shooter.

Gameplay

In Project Snowblind, Frost is enhanced beyond belief. Due to experiments, when you collect Bio energy, you have the ability to slow down time, see through walls (vision), put up a human shield force field, become invisible, and even launch lightning bolts at enemies. New augmentations become available as you progress into the game. I personally like the ballistic augmentation, which is the shield that allows you to basically be invincible. Your HUD contains a health meter, bio-energy meter, a radar, and of course the basic ammo information. Pressing "back" enables a navigation system that tells you where to go next and leads you in the direction of the next objective. So there is never a time where you'll really get frustrated if you're lost. You can drive vehicles (i.e. cars), take over enemy robots (using the icepick), each all with their own unique way of attacking. There is so much to do in this game. You can also pick up/move items with the "kicker" weapon. These gameplay powers allow Project Snowblind to be a step above traditional FPS's.

The controls in Project: Snowblind are set up easy enough and fit the ideal FPS very well. X interacts with objects in the environment and allows you to pick up health packs, open doors, etc. Once you have an augmentation (bio enhancement) selected, pressing Y will activate it. The rest of the usual first person shooter controls are intact. Jumping (A), shooting (R Trigger), crouching (B), and secondary weapons (black) such as frag grenades, flash grenades, gas grenades are all here in their own form. There's also some crazy insane ones. I like the spiderbots the best. Spiderbots are your little protectors, not only are they cute, but they help out a great deal in killing the enemy. They even go and hide when the enemy is too powerful. If not a killer, they act as a great distraction. When you reach a point where they can't be by your side, just know that they will try their best to find the best route to where you will be. Each one of the spiderbots appears to have its own special AI. For example, sometimes only one will walk out of a room to look to attack someone.

Regular weapons include carbine, pistol, rocket launcher, shotgun, sniper and so forth. There are also various energy weapons (most with secondary features), which include the HERF, the Flechette, and the Rail Laser. You also have the "kicker" and the "icepick" in your inventory of weapons, which I mentioned in the beginning of this review. Supply crates are scattered throughout the game everywhere. These crates can be punch in, enabling you to get health, bio energy, etc. There's checkpoints and "save rooms" which allow you to re-supply and save your game. These save rooms give you a great opportunity to take a breather, save, and fill up on ammo.

The overall gameplay experience, I admit, is a little slow in the beginning. You'll be glad that you kept at it, because the gameplay only gets better and more intense, all the way up until the very end. You get little support from allied forces, and you are pretty much completing orders from your sergeant or from someone who knows how to defeat the enemy forces. With that said, this is the very first FPS that actually makes sense. Yes, I said it. I say this because, for the most part you are alone fighting all by yourself. Most FPS's are the same way, but in Project: Snowblind the story allows you to actually take on an army all by yourself.

Graphics

The graphics are stunning. This game is one of the smoothest games running on Xbox ever. The graphics are kind of Fable-ish, (meaning impressive and clean), but I like Snowblind's graphics way better. Windows in this game don't just shatter when you hit them with a bullet. First the glass holds itself together, and then if you punch or shoot it again, it will then shatter into a million pieces. Not just with the glass, but also barrels in this game do not just blow up when you shoot them. First they slightly catch fire, and then they blow up. It's little details like these that give Project: Snowblind another reason to stand out higher over other FPS's.

The animations are smooth as a fresh piece of wood that was just sandpapered with the finest grain. With that said, the graphics are sharp, vibrant, and help bring out the game's appeal. One thing that I wanted to make clear is that the level design is top-notch. I have to hand it to Crystal Dynamics on this one.

Sound

As you get deeper and deeper into the gameplay, the music follows right along with it. When it gets tough, you'll know by the tense music. When it gets down to the wire, you'll know by the epic music. Other than that, the rest of the sound and effects are done to perfection.

Replay Value

Aside from the great graphics and gameplay, this game has many options, and that is what makes it so good. For example, you are able to take different paths to complete levels, and even secret crawl spaces. There are so many different weapons, and once you have them acquired you are able to do so many things.

I'm not going to give anything away, but the republic army only gets tougher. All I can say is watch out for the elites. In addition to that, you're still picking up new weapons, and abilities (augmentations) late in the game! Nanoboost is best when used after you die. Yes, after you are shot up, you can revive yourself from death. Project Snowblind is also Xbox Live compatible and system link (2-16) compatible, the only thing that is a minor downfall is no split screen on a single Xbox. You figure Halo can do it, why not every FPS (especially since Project: Snowblind is that good).

Bottom Line:

You do not want to miss out on Project Snowblind, trust me. All the time and effort put forth by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos should be enjoyed by anyone who likes FPS's. The kick-ass story, kick-ass main character, kick-ass graphics & gameplay make this one kick-ass game. The multiple paths and different items to find in each level, make Project Snowblind one hefty shooter. This game may start off a little slow, but the action just keeps getting better and better, all the way till the end. Before I was even finished with this title, I couldn't wait to start again and play it all over again. Project Snowblind is a must buy.

Related Links:

Official Project Snowblind Website

-Steve Melanson




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