Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Artificial Studios & Immersion Games
Developer: Artificial Studios, Immersion Games and Timeline Interactive
Release Date: May 8, 2007
CellFactor: Revolution began as a tech demo using Ageia's PhysX technology, and on May 8, 2007, the former demo (substantially modified and enhanced) will debut as a full-fledged FPS game that will be offered as a free download. I was able to preview a beta build of the box-flinging beauty and get a taste of what the PhysX processor is capable of.
Because CellFactor is no longer just a physics demo, you will not need a PhysX card to run it. You will want one, however, to enjoy all the benefits this title was designed to show off, and the card is necessary to access all five of the maps, as three of them are so physics-intensive that they can't be displayed without the specialized processor.
For those unfamiliar with Ageia's specialized physics accelerator, it resembles a small video card and plugs into a PCI expansion slot. It is not, however, a graphics processor. Rather, it is a "physics processing unit" (PPU), designed to control how objects can be manipulated in the environment by processing unique physics algorithms. The purpose of the PhysX card is to calculate all of the movement and interaction in a game, enabling more realistic cause-and-effect actions without putting that burden on your computer's other hardware.
If you have ever been frustrated in a game by being unable to smash through a fragile picket fence or a stack of crates with your 70-ton M1A2 Abrams tank, you will certainly enjoy the interactivity and freedom that PhysX-enabled games make possible.
Upon running CellFactor for the first time, what struck me was the sheer number of boxes, crates, and other objects littered around the map. Naturally, I whipped out my pistol and shot one. It tumbled off of its perch and bounced around a little bit. I then discovered several moves dependent on "psionic powers," a telekinetic ability, so I decided to try a few. First, I "pulled" a few of the boxes towards me, and they obediently levitated in the air. Next, I blasted them forward and against a wall, smashing them to bits.
Again, I aimed my psionic powers toward the smattering of boxes, and this time the boxes swirled around in the air and formed a giant ball of floating debris, awaiting my command. I aimed at the sky and propelled the whole mess forward. The boxes reacted as I would expect them to in the real world, each spinning and twirling individually. I started to appreciate the benefits of my PhysX card's capabilities.
Other noteworthy ways in which CellFactor allows you to manipulate the environment include the ability to part, Moses-style, a sea of objects, wiping out enemies in their path, and the ability to implode your enemies while they are frozen in mid-air, causing bloody red chunks of flesh and bone to come raining down from above.
For those who would prefer to shoot their enemies the old-fashioned way, you can do that, too. Those with PhysX cards installed will probably not want to pass up the opportunity to board one of the heavy vehicles and take a few shots at the ubiquitous piles of crates and other objects, for watching them react is probably the highlight of this game. It's just fun to watch your screen fill up with hundreds of flying particles of miscellaneous debris. This will be a title for those attracted to the concept of blowing stuff not just to pieces but to smithereens.
As for the gameplay, CellFactor is primarily a multiplayer shooter set in a robot-dominated future, similar in many respects to the Unreal Tournament games. The maps are small, and the pace is fast and frantic. Multiplayer matches consist of deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and an "assault" mode that involves one team defending a base while the other team attempts to plant a gravity-vortex bomb. There is also a single-player campaign mode.
Players choose from three characters: Bishop, Black Ops and Guardian. The Black Ops kit is the standard soldier and can use both psionic powers and conventional weapons. The Guardian lacks psionic abilities but can wield two weapons at the same time, even holding a different type of gun in each hand. The Bishop will likely be the class of choice for those equipped with PhysX cards because she uses psionic powers exclusively. She can't drive a vehicle but can lift it up with her mind and hurl it at the enemy. She can fly, too.
For the low, low price of exactly nothing, it would be a good idea to download CellFactor: Revolution when it's made available on May 8th. From what I've seen so far, it's going to be the best use of your PhysX card yet.
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