At its core, Project Snowblind is a shallow console shooter originally designed as a Deus Ex game (disconnected from the Deus Ex franchise, I don't doubt, because it is 100 percent shooter and 0 percent RPG), and while this game doesn't fail as mightily as Deus Ex : Invisible War, that is simply because expectations were not as high for this game. Project Snowblind is not only a shallow console shooter, it revels in that fact, and as far as shallow console shooters go, this is one of the better ones, as it not only knows its place, it throws in a few laughs and thrills to go with the mindless, repetitive levels.
The first impression of Project Snowblind is a bad one: The opening cinematic is bland and predictable, with adequate but not outstanding production values, and the opening engine-rendered cutscene is simply awful. The opening level in the courtyard seems to have a life of it's own as far as bugs are concerned â€“ One time the guys in the middle that were supposed to be blown up by a rocket weren't and just huddled there waiting for a script to fire that never did, one time an enemy jumping over the wall glitched and froze, standing on thin air 5 feet from the ground, and one time I shot an enemy and he died, only to warp to a vertical death position (as in, â€œlaying dead on a vertical surfaceâ€) in a contorted spasm with one leg shoved under his body. As I don't like to give away spoilers I won't say much about the story, except that it is an obvious Deus Ex knockoff involving cyborg nano agents and Hong Kong.
This brings me to one of my initial complaints about the game: While it does feature a limited physics engine, this engine isn't actually used for anything important. When you drive a vehicle (which is pretty cool, albeit limited and not necessary), hitting people with it seems to have ragdoll type physics, though they are poorly done, but shooting people with guns has no ragdoll effect whatsoever. You can shoot someone in the head with a sniper rifle and he'll still go into one of four or five pre-scripted death sequences. This gets old fast, and I thought we had gotten rid of this back around the time of the original Deus Ex. Also, in many of the cutscenes you will see the main character and other characters doing things that they never, ever do within the non-scripted part of the game. The face first zip cord exit from the helicopters is one example, but the protagonist's mad dashing about in the shorter cutscenes is more irritating: He'll do lightning fast Matrix style action movie moves, and then when you take control you have to position yourself absolutely perfectly to just jump up onto a box! Also, the method in which the hero gets his nano powers is comedy: The developers couldn't decide on a good way to put them in the game at key locations, so they just had a cutscene where he â€œdiscoversâ€ how to activate each one, as if by â€œthinking harderâ€ he can become invisible, slow down time, block bullets, and so forth. Comedy gold. The fun in this game is primarily had from the areas where you get to run people down in the vehicles, and the use of the shogun. The shotgun is FUN. I love walking up some stairs to confront someone point blank and blast them 20 feet across the room (and usually 5 or 10 feet up into the air, too). Unfortunately, shotgun ammo is limited for most of the game, and it doesn't work in many situations.
Oh, and I can't forget to trash their save system while I'm at it. You can't save where you want to, yet another console trait that wasn't fixed in the PC version â€“ You've got to find â€œsave roomsâ€, hilarious little rooms hidden in each level where you open up a wall panel to save your game.
HELLO IMMERSION, WHERE HAVE YOU GONE? I WAS SHOOTING UP SOME AGENTS AND NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN I'M IN THIS LITTLE ROOM WITH A SAVE GAME PANEL ON THE WALL...?!
When it comes to visuals, let's not play games: The graphics powering Project Snowblind are awful. They might look fine on a PS2 with an interlaced TV where you can't see how low-poly the models are and how ugly and bland the textures are, though I sincerely doubt even that. This is not a game that could look really good with any amount of visual trickery or tweaking: It was bad right from the start. Even Deus Ex 1 looked better. I keep referring to Deus Ex because, as I said before, this was designed as a Deus Ex game. You're playing a nanotech agent after all, and many of the items in the game world not only look like items found in the Deus Ex series, they are! Bio-electric cells not only have the same graphic, they serve the same purpose, as do a host of other devices (though the spider bots in this incarnation are clearly cooler than Invisible War's 16 IQ version). Though the world is supposed to be torn by war, everything is just a bit too clear and... well... consolized, and though that word carries a stigma for any PC game it really fits this one, as it feels more like a console FPS than any game I've played this year. Remember the indoor Halo levels with bland wall after bland wall, smooth surface after smooth surface, and almost no details when you got up close to anything? This game continues that tradition. Remember the detached feeling when you moved the mouse, like the controls were being read by a joystick emulator and then put on the screen as a close approximation of what the game thought you wanted to do? Snowblind has got that, too.
There are a few effects like bump mapping and real time shadowing, but overall they are simply awful. The reflections look incredibly fake and the real time shadows are rendered at such low resolution they don't even look like they're made out of LEGOs, they look like they're made out of DUPLOs! (Google that if you don't know, or look under LEGO's site under the preschool section.) The sound is entirely forgettable, with a non-memorable score and voice acting bordering on comical. The main character has some of the worst lines in recent video game memory, and the delivery is so over the top I couldn't even take him seriously as an action hero.
The multiplayer modes are all tiresome and boring, barely even worth mentioning in a review. There are a variety of modes, but I've been there and done that, and the multiplayer levels are ugly both in level design and visual presentation. Some may like it, but overall it's not worth the price of admission when there are far, far better multiplayer experiences out there for your gaming dollar and your valuable time.
I should trash this game a lot harder in the final score than I am, but I can really see how some people will like the single player story and mindless shooter action, even with the plethora of glaring flaws. I can't recommend this to anyone given it's price tag of 39.99 USD (MSRP) for the PC version, as that is about 34.99 more than it's worth, but if you've got an afternoon to kill and you can find this in the bargain bin, go for it. You might be pleasantly surprised if you go in with low expectations.