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Interstellar Marines

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Zero Point Software

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Interstellar Marines'

by Brian Dumlao on Sept. 16, 2014 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Interstellar Marines resurrects the old-school tactical FPS. It offers a blend of co-op, role-playing and nonlinear gameplay. You take on the role as an elite soldier who's been chosen to join Project IM, a top-secret military program to protect mankind from the dangers outside our solar system.

The Interstellar Marines project has been around for a while. A few years back, the developers showed what they could do with the Unity game engine by putting up tech demos of a nice-looking first-person shooter that happened to be playable on any web browser. Years have passed, and they've been progressing steadily to the point where they feel comfortable releasing the game on Steam Early Access.

Interstellar Marines is most certainly in alpha status. Though there's lots of talk from the developers about how they want to create a plausible sci-fi universe with a deep story, the alpha currently contains no story elements. There is a level where you can play against bots, but that's just a bonus right now since you're only fighting against bots with very basic AI.

The only mode that's present is multiplayer, and the only game type available is Devastation, where you fight for control of spots in the map. Levels end once all the spots have been captured or when all members of the team have been eliminated. All players only have one life afforded to them, but they have a chance to return to the match if a teammate scores a kill against a member of the opposing team.

There's nothing special about the mode, but the mechanics are quite interesting. The speed of the game is slower than in most modern shooters, especially if you choose to not run, and it doesn't take too many shots before you get dropped. There are no crosshairs in the game, so shooting from the hip relies on educated guesses rather than accuracy. There are lasers and flashlights in the game, but they're disadvantageous since they're visible from a distance and give away your position. This really emphasizes the need to be smart about when you activate such things.

There are only two guns in the game, one of which has great zoom capabilities, but they feel solid so far and good to use. One of the more interesting things is the HUD, which is only displayed when you have your visor on. Remove the visor, and you lose your readout altogether, immediately giving players a hardcore mode with the tap of a key. Also, the HUD disappears completely if you're near death, which is a far more acceptable alternative to the completely red screens that most games have opted for in the last few years.

Of course, since this is an Early Access title, don't expect there to be a constantly available community. There are plenty of servers up, but you have to either get lucky or coordinate with other people if you want to get a good slew of matches going. It's just a head's up if you were considering jumping in and playing immediately.

In lieu of a proper single-player mode, Interstellar Marines lets you explore all of the available maps in an offline environment. Those maps range from an outdoor base at night, one in a snowscape, and a storm at sunset. From a design perspective, the maps are fine with a good layout, but there isn't anything spectacular about them when compared to maps from other games. The highlight is the graphics, particularly the lighting and the little details. There's a good amount of shadowing in the right spots, and the use of light is realistic without being overwhelming. Particle effects are abundant but look great in the environments that sport dust and embers. Some of the weather effects, like rain, don't accurately reflect on the ground yet, but on the visor, that kind of thing looks gorgeous. The visor also shows off some nice light refraction, scratches and buffs to give a weathered look. There's definitely more work to be done on this front, but it looks very impressive at this early stage.

Interstellar Marines shows a good amount of promise from a technical standpoint, and it can be a fun game if you can find people to play with. As it stands now, the multiplayer is getting solid, but if you're waiting to see how the single-player experience fares, we'd suggest waiting a bit more until that component has been implemented and is put through the paces. Interstellar Marines is available now on Steam Early Access.

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