Preview By: Andreas Misund Berntsen
One thing that’s for certain if you look at the gaming market today, is that good, original game design doesn’t come around every day. Some might say that we’ve seen “everything”, and that the games that’ll follow will only be rehashes of old ideas. I say that’s wrong, and Republic: The Revolution, is why. The game has gotten a lot of positive coverage ever since it was unveiled a good while ago, and now it’s coming close to completion. We were lucky enough to play a build of the game, which showed at least some of the neat things that gamers can look forward to (check out our gallery for the title for some exclusive in-game screenshots).
The story takes place somewhere in what was the former Soviet Union, in a small (and imaginary) republic called Novistrana (Exact translation from Russian: New Country. - Editor). During the introduction movie you’re told how your parents were kidnapped while you were young, by the goons of a really bad and nasty dictator “running the country with an iron fist and a control based on fear and oppression”. At that moment you knew that revenge was called for, one way or another. After the intro you get to answer about ten multiple choice questions, that dictate basically how you spent your time growing up, what kind of moral choices you’d make in given scenarios, which in the end decides what kind of a guy you turn out to be – much like in some role-playing games of old. After this you enter the republic of Novistrina, where a lot of work needs to be done.
At the point of returning you know very little about the city, your manpower consists only of yourself, and you have very limited resources. So what do you do? You set out to find a right-hand man, someone you can rely on through thick and thin. Actually doing something in Republic requires you to handle what the developers called Actions. On the bottom left part of the game interface you see your most trusted allies, and by clicking on for instance yourself, you can start an action such as Headhunt, which lets you choose a district and a person. Then the action is put into a “time box” of sorts, which shows you when the character will do a certain action; but the actions can be moved around pretty much however you want. At all times you have one or more objectives to complete, but as you progress in the game the gameplay gets more open-ended, letting you seize power the way you see fit. For instance, if you’re a militant kind of guy then you might just want to kill an important member of the opposing party, but if you’re not you could just try recruiting him. Having these options is one of the main things that make this game really fun, as you’ll see when the game is released.
Also, the gameplay offers several layers of depth, depending on how much you want to get involved. Let’s say you’re trying to headhunt a person, meaning you drive over to his house, ask him if he’d be interested in a chat at a certain restaurant, head over to that restaurant, order some food from the waiter, and then start chatting. During the conversation you can go into a mode that lets you choose what kind of things you want to say, for instance if you want to focus on humor, threatening him, etc. The person you speak with does the exact same thing to you, so it’s important to watch how the conversation flows, and what the best thing to say would be.
Graphically the game is shaping up really well. Using the mouse-wheel you can choose between three view-modes - first person, bird’s eye (sort of), and a map view. What impressed me greatly even after just a few minutes of playing the game is the fact that Novistrina doesn’t just consist of a number of buildings: instead you’ll see tons of people walking around, cars driving along, trees moving with the wind, etc. If the people just walked around all day then they could be compared with zombies, and that wouldn’t be very impressive, but instead you’ll see and hear people sitting outside of restaurants, buying newspapers, and more. While playing the game it really does feel like it is taking place in the former Soviet Union somewhere, because the buildings have that Russian kind of architecture, and in the background you hear the musical score, which as you might've guessed consists of music you’d easily distinguish as Russian.
This really is a game you can play for a long time – it has a huge load of replay-value, has impressive graphics and sounds, but is also a game that requires you to think. The build we got to play didn’t have a tutorial, which I really do hope is included in the retail version, but if the developers finish the game with as high of a standard as they have followed so far, I see no reason why this game won’t be a GOTY (game of the year) candidate.