Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: Parallax Arts Studio
Release Date: September 30, 2008
First-person shooter titles that arrive on shelves today have a lot to prove in order to stand out from the rest of the trigger-happy pack. Whether it's a new twist to history or a unique bit of gameplay spinning the action into something more than a trail of bullets, developers hoping to get their titles noticed are challenged to demonstrate that they have what it takes to catch your eye — and your wallet. Parallax Arts Studio is hoping to do just that with a sci-fi adventure that is billed as a "cyberpunk FPS" packed with plenty of action, Exodus from the Earth.
Exodus from the Earth takes place in the year 2016, when scientists discover that the sun is going to be dying several billion years earlier than expected and the world only has only years left. Turning into a red giant, the sun is going to roast the Earth without the help of Al Gore; unless mankind can find another world to adapt to, it's all over. Enter the A.X. Corporation, a vast megacorp specializing in genetics and space technology, who has opted to bear the weighty responsibility of searching for a new home. A mineral is discovered on one of the surveyed worlds, one that could allow mankind to adapt to alien environments and provide the kind of salvation that humanity needs. The corporate empire is all too happy to make the mineral a part of their fiscal responsibility.
There are also rumors of an astronaut returning after discovering a "second Earth," but he disappears shortly after his return. The Intelligence Agency that's keeping an eye on A.X. is concerned that they might have done something to the astronaut in order to maintain their profitable stranglehold on the mineral and humanity's future. As their best agent, Frank, it's up to you to get to the bottom of this mystery and find out the corporation's true motives.
Exodus uses the Riposte engine developed by Tools Media to show off the world across the four included areas that came with the demo. Each level provides plenty of mayhem with destructible objects, special effects, in-game cut scenes, and enough physics to send things — like body parts — flying everywhere for explosive moments. The futuristic setting includes plenty of glowing panels and weird machines in every wall to give you a sense of techno-claustrophobia. Enemy troops are elaborately armored, and what sci-fi shooter would be complete without killer robots? Weapon effects and a solid techno-pop-inspired soundtrack follow your actions through each area, providing just enough ear candy to keep you moving to the next objective.
Playing through each area gave me a good sense of what Exodus hopes to offer; the complete version promises to send the player to another world in addition to what you'll be doing on Earth. I started out with the Corporate Offices area, where Frank had to steal some data which turns out to be a bad idea. Dropped into the ventilation ducts when a series of explosions starts to shake everything, I made it into the central fan shaft and climbed up into another series of ducts where I could overhear two employees talking about the explosion and deciding whether or not to check it out. There's plenty of voice work that is present throughout the game, which, thankfully, didn't sound as if the developers tried to do it themselves.
I had a full arsenal from the outset, with all of the usual toys ranging from an assault rifle, a trusty shotgun, sniper rifle, and a big boom stick in the form of a missile launcher to help with the walking robots that I'd have to fight in the other areas. The demo also provided me with some grenades to toss around, including remotely detonated ones that you can leave behind as a surprise for the corporate rent-a-thugs who try to be heroes. Exodus keeps things simple with its action, which can be appealing for players who just want to go in and shoot up stuff, or turn foes into mincemeat with a trusty hand ax.
The next area that I tried out was a proving ground for the corporation's weapon program, and I had some fun activating the robots a little earlier than the technicians had been expecting, clearing the way, and showing off some of the interactivity that can get others into trouble. Another area called "The Dam" that had me fighting through several corridors of foes while I made my way to the end, a straightforward shooting level that also displayed some interesting special effects with a hologram room and transparencies. The last area gave Frank an armored car to help him steal a shuttle off Earth while also allowing him to head out on foot to handle a few roadblocks along the way.
Exodus from the Earth looks poised to provide some interesting fun, but it still has a few rough edges that I hope will be cleaned up before release, such as a few oddball translation gaffes and graphical glitches such as the occasional open seam and texture flicker. There was also no multiplayer to try out, but the press materials promise that up to 10 players will be able to shoot it out on a LAN or via Internet for the future of Earth. However, the interesting sci-fi story and fast-paced action as you fight for humanity's future give Exodus the potential to stand out from the crowd.
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