Available : Q4, 2002.

March! Offworld Recon © Buka
Preview by Andreas ‘Interman’ Misund

These days there seems to be a World War trend when it comes to first-person shooters. Some game developers must think that good old-fashioned sci-fi shooters aren’t as popular any more, but are they? In March! Offworld Recon you play as the squad leader of a mech assault group, where you not only have to keep a steady aim, but where you are also required to think strategically. The game takes place on Mars, where people are at war with some mysterious alien cyborg baddies. The people rely on you and your team to save the day, but doing so will make you face hordes of naughty robot beings, bosses, and puzzling levels.

The version of the game we were sent was a pre-beta disc, but it did have a set of working levels, weapons, enemies, AI, team control, interface (menu and in-game HUD), and three modes of the multiplayer part. It didn’t have the upcoming intro, outro, cut-scenes, detailed briefing and prompts, but at least we got to see what this is all about. After having played it for a bit, some may compare the gameplay to Serious Sam, and the setting to Red Faction, because it is all about very fast shooting, way into the future, with plenty of advanced guns. One of the more interesting features that I’m sure people will appreciate, is the modular approach to the weapons. The main weapon resembles a gatling gun, by being multi-barrelled. When changing weapon you actually add and remove barrels, along with minor parts that all-together make up a fierce toy of war. Some of the weapons available are a machine gun, a shotgun, a grenade launcher, a plasma thrower, and a railgun. Also, to make the myriad of weapon permutations even bigger, March included modular cartridges, that add things like a radar, a device that changes the rate of fire, the grouping of shots and more. Obviously, weapon-freaks who liked Serious Sam should rejoice with a selection like this. Additionally, throughout the levels various items are scattered, like health-packs, jump jets, speed boosters, flashlight, orbital strike (satellite guided targeting system), and reinforcement beacons, which add a robot to your squad.

The missions included on the disc were mainly about accessing terminals, eliminating enemy forces, getting from start to finish, and battling huge bosses. Realism isn’t what the developers focused on, but instead you get plenty of excitement in pyramids, caves, a factory, on a spaceship, in a temple, and even by a volcano. The game’s graphics rely on the Lithtech engine, which we’ve seen in the terrific No One Lives Forever 2. So far the graphics look nice, flow nice, and may even be improved further in the final.

A good action game deserves an equally good soundtrack, and March’s combination of trance, techno and heavy metal ends up sounding great. During the time I played March several people noted how great the music was, and I will in no way disagree. The music creates a distinct futuristic atmosphere which otherwise would’ve been far less interesting.

I mentioned earlier that the multiplayer part isn’t fully implemented as of yet, but we got to test-drive it in its current state, where deathmatch, team deathmatch and squad deathmatch is fully working. Hosting and joining is done just like in any other normal first-person shooter, but by the time the game is done I’m sure we’ll see more modes and options.

March! Offworld Recon is nearing completion. So far it seems like an interesting game, even though it doesn’t have groundbreaking graphics or gameplay. If you like the tempo of Serious Sam and a gazillion of weapons, all wrapped into a neat science-fiction package, then this is the title to watch out for. And be sure to check out some exclusive game screenshots taken from the latest beta version of the game.