Mindless first-person shooters are everywhere as of late and none may be spared, no matter the platform of preference. While this is especially true on consoles, from time to time a certain title will come along, and although it may not be groundbreaking in terms of graphics or gameplay, still present a solid performance and remain fun through out the course of the game. This is the case with Eidosâ€™ latest title, Project: Snowblind. Mixing an above-average audio-graphical presentation with an amusing single player campaign and Xbox Live compatibility, Snowblind turns out to be a refreshing FPS title, even without revolutionary innovations.
Project: Snowblind is very reminiscent of Deus Ex; in fact, there are many striking resemblances all through out the length of the title. Set in Hong Kong during the year 2065, players will take the role of 2nd Lt. Nathan Frost, a soldier fighting in a war in a country pit against itself. During the course of a fierce firefight, Nathan risks his life to save a fellow comrade in arms, resulting in a premature death, but not all hope is lost. Thanks to the immense technological leaps, Nathan is reconstructed and stronger than ever. Benefiting from incredible bio-augmentations such as being able to cloak himself, slowdown time, sport a bullet shield and many more which will be unlocked themselves over time, gamers will be treated to quite an action packed adventure.
The opening sequence of the game reveals more on the back-story and events that sparked the war in Hong Kong. Fresh recruits are seen arriving at the base and one of them is Nathan. From the moment the squad sets foot on the ground, trouble begins to brew as futuristic enemy choppers are seen approaching in the distance. The troops scramble to their positions and a vicious firefight erupts between the rebels and the opposing forces. This is where players will take control of Frost and push back the oppressors in a short introductory level serving as a tutorial and explanation to the events leading up to Nathanâ€™s demise.
From this point on, there is no rest for Nathan and players; the action is non-stop. Project: Snowblind features a wealth of special bio-augmentations and weapons to utilize when disposing of enemies. Early in the tutorial level, players learn that every piece of firepower features a primary as well as a secondary function, and when used correctly, can wield potentially devastating results. Ensuing Frostâ€™s reconstruction into a literal bionic man, the game leaves the way for the introduction of the augmentations, which play a considerable part in the gameplay. At first glance, the powers Frost is presented with seem weak and useless, but if used correctly, these faint modifications can give players a tactical edge in combat. The further gamers progress in the story, the more powerful the augmentations become and new ones are unlocked. These special powers run on a psychic energy that drains itself extremely rapidly, so caution is necessary when employing these gifts. Thankfully, alongside the health kits that pepper the maps are packs that help replenish small amounts, if not all of this energy.
The controls and interface in Project: Snowblind are extremely simplistic, which is accustomed to FPS titles. The controls suit adequately their task and there never feels like there is any awkwardness when navigating or engaging in gunfights. The layout is fairly well designed, but a gripe I have is the saving system employed in the game. Players cannot record their progress when they see it fit, but instead track down one of the few â€œSaveâ€ rooms, doors marked with a glowing blue symbol that are located through out the levels (there is usually two or three per map.) Although many titles do not feature auto-save methods, I would have definitely preferred a much less intrusive and immersion-disruptive manner of saving.
Project: Snowblind always manages to keep the tedious and repetitive gameplay interesting by mixing things up just as they get stale. By this, I mean introducing elements of stealth and all-out action. Vehicular combat also plays a small part through out the game and creates a welcomed change of pace from the monotonous first-person view.
The gameâ€™s AI is nothing special and occasionally acts in a suspiciously stupid manner, but I was never expecting much from them to begin with and I was pleasantly surprised more than a few times. The main issue the game suffers from is instead of implementing smarter AI that actually tries to maneuver around you and flank you in an intelligent manner, enemies essentially wait for you to turn the corner, or run up to you in large groups. This is where the bio-augmentations or stealthier approaches to combat pay off when ambushing the hoards of foes.
With the single player campaign aside, Project: Snowblind also features a generic multiplayer aspect through System Link and Xbox Live. The game features some very basic game types such as Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, alongside some other very stale modes. Multiplayer matches are all class-based and include vehicles, which add a nice approach to the boring old game types, but this does not save them from still being tedious and unoriginal. Thanks to Xbox Live, players can use the Xbox Communicator to strategize with teammates and enjoy lag free matches with up to 16 players, if any can be found, as there are not many servers to choose from at any given time.
Graphics wise, Snowblind holds its own fairly well. The range of environments is appealing and varies from wide outdoor areas to tight alleys and corridors in broken down bunkers. Environments can even take damage, although not to the extent of Red Faction for example, but it is more than we can say for most games. The detail put into the surroundings and models are rather impressive and leave no room for complaint. Seeing some of the firefights in the game in full effect with all of the wicked particle effects is visually pleasing as well. The gameâ€™s cinematic sequences feel like they are straight out of an action movie thanks in part to the cinematography and cheesy voice acting.
In the audio department however, not all is well. The voice acting in the game is for its part, very cheesy. Certain weapons also sound underpowered, like they are missing some kick, but with that aside, the rest of the gameâ€™s sound effects are rather solid. The gameâ€™s soundtrack complements the action and firefights superbly and jumps in at the right moments depending on what is developing on screen.
Overall, Project: Snowblind is a great few hours of fun while it lasts. The graphics and sound are above par for the kind of genre, and although nothing is truly innovative in the game, it still manages to stay fresh and interesting through out the length of the single player campaign. The save system could have been better designed and the multiplayer is nothing special as well, but it is still amusing when playing with the right people. What it all comes down to is a short but sweet FPS title that is at least worth a rental.