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PC Preview - 'Space Interceptor: Project Freedom'

by Thomas Leaf on Sept. 8, 2004 @ 3:09 a.m. PDT

"Space Interceptor: Project Freedom", previously known as Project Earth 2, is a space combat game that offers adrenaline pumping gameplay coupled with stunning graphics. The campaign is built around an original storyline that features several unexpected twists and turns. A stand alone tutorial mode and a simple, intuitive user interface let you immerse yourself in the game world without irritating delays.

Genre : Space Sim/Action
Developer : City Interactive
Publisher : Merscom
Release Date : October 2004

Project Freedom is currently in development by Polish design haus City Interactive and will be published in North America by newcomer Merscom. While not the prolific design studio they hope to be one day, it seems that City Interactive is getting started off with the right foot. Project Freedom may perhaps be their break-out title due to its impressive graphics engine and a return to streamlined action oriented gameplay.

The whole premise behind Project Freedom is that you are a mercenary fighter pilot for a colonization corporation “Project Freedom” some time during the third millennium. It is a straight forward and simple story that has not been left untold, but at least City Interactive is attempting to implement a narrative at all. When designer super powers like id begin incorporating a heavy narrative element to their overall composition then you know other smaller designers must follow suit if they are to meet expectations and gain notice.

To this end City Interactive has two things going for Project Freedom. The first is a strong engine and the second is a (hopefully) engaging story. From the beta build I played there is an attempt to imbue an overall story arc to the mission structures and have those arcs change within missions as new events trigger. There was the beginnings to what seems to be an opening cinematic cut and every briefing is accompanied with the story’s update. Your wingmen chatter a lot and this can prove to be an effective story telling tool if City is able to capitalize on it.

One the gameplay front City is steering clear of the hardcore flight simulation that was I-War and going for a guns-a-blazin’ style similar to Wing Commander. The thought is that the more intuitive and simpler then game is to pick up and play then the more fun and accessible it will be. I tend to agree but based on what I’ve played I’d like to see a touch more nuance put into the flight modeling and physics algorithms. Just from checking out the website and reading up on City Interactive’s “Impact 2” engine, I can see that the ability is there to make this game a little more mature in its gameplay then what is present. It’s reassuring to know that in its current form the game is playable but certainly not finished. Tweaks and touches will put some polish on what can already be an exciting alternative to the endless amount of World War Two shooters about to pile up on my desk.

I said before that Project Freedom boasts a strong engine and perhaps boast is the wrong word. According to City, the Impact 2 engine is capable of pixel shading 2.0 technology. Vertex and Pixel shading will factor heavily into this game’s overall look. Trails, motion blur and animated textures make for some really interesting model designs and special effects. The particle lighting looks awesome when you blow something up and fly through the debris cloud. Streaking missile clusters a-la Robotech looks really cool too and Impact 2 makes use of a nice motion blur effect when you turn sharply or hit the afterburner.

Project Freedom may not be making anyone’s top ten to play lists as of yet, but City Interactive has a title they should be rightfully proud of. The technical quality and characteristics of the work they have done so far leaves me with the hope that we may get a fun and exciting space sim shooter. Should City Interactive tighten up some of the gameplay aspects of the European release and the build I’ve played then we could have a nice little sleeper/cult classic on our hands. Good artwork, streamlined gameplay, dazzling visuals and a good story make for a very good and very fun game. It’s my hope that City Interactive delivers up all of these parts and uses Project Freedom as a spring board to build a strong franchise because they certainly have the technology to do it.

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