Section 8, ghettos, and projects…oh my! Preview

Section 8, ghettos, and projects…oh my!

Game designers sure don’t make the future seem very fun. Either the rich are

hoarding all the clean air, fresh water, 2-ply toilet paper and other essentials,

or the whole planet has been reduced to a putrid, festering, nuclear dumping

ground where half of civilization looks like Dennis Rodman and the Elephant

Man’s love child. Doesn’t anyone foresee a Jetsons type of future with

flying cars and escalators that can take you from your bed to the office in

mere seconds? Or are we all truly doomed to cosmic disaster?

Well, if the folks behind Project Eden have anything to say about it,

don’t expect robotic maid service or television watches any time soon. Their

vision of the future is indeed grim, though the game looks bright.



Click to enlarge

Eidos’ upcoming squad-based first/third-person action adventure is developed

by the folks from Core who brought us the original Tomb Raider. It tells

the story of an Earth that is ever increasing in diameter due to humans incessantly

building upwards. The wealthy enjoy a secular life in the newest and latest

living arrangements high above the impoverished, while the latter have living

conditions that degenerate to full-fledged ghettos the further you descend through

the slums underneath the rich. Malicious thieves, demented and deranged criminals

and other nefarious characters have made these lower levels wholly unappealing.

Life at the bottom ain’t easy in Project Eden. But then, is it ever?

You control four specially-trained members of an elite forces unit called the

UPA (Urban Protection Agency). Each member has his own unique abilities and

equipment. As the leader, Carter is the only direct line from the control center

and receives order assignments. Minoko is the computer expert, handy for tapping

into terminals. Andre is an engineer used to repair broken machines and doors,

and Amber is the brawn of the gang, a behemoth in an exo-suit who can hold more

weaponry than the rest and is impervious to hazard materials like flame and

steam. The crux of the game is using the separate characters wisely to solve

puzzles and kill bad guys.

Taking control of the UPA team is very intuitive. Many other squad-based games

can intimidate gamers with overhead map displays, confusing waypoints and a

congested HUD. Project Eden dispenses with all of that madness by using

a streamlined interface. Switching between team members is done with a simple

mouse click on the character’s icon at the top of the screen or in the drop

down inventory menu. Want one or more team members to follow you? Then get close

to the character/s you wish to lead, bring down the inventory screen and left-click

the member/s you need. Simple!

The combination of first and third person gameplay seems to work well. Unlike

Sierra’s new Tribes 2, Project Eden offers an aiming cursor in

third-person mode to help you actually shoot something other than your feet.

And quite frankly, the third person view is much more desirable for general

gameplay – at least in the single playable level in the preview build. However,

the two different camera modes can be accessed seamlessly.

Regardless of your view, you use the keyboard to maneuver (strafe, forward,

backward etc.) and the mouse to position the cursor where needed. This typical

FPS setup makes running and gunning both easy and fun.

Your characters will also stumble upon various forms of robots to aid in puzzle

solving. You can use small flycams to see where human peepers can’t. Tiny rover

units outfitted with short-range lasers can scurry through small crevices. Small

sentry guns can be placed down anywhere you want to protect choke points. Very

cool, yet even cooler is that every unit can be manually controlled for more

efficiency. I drove the tiny rover under some fallen debris into an area that

my characters couldn’t reach, where I was able to wipe out a few nasty looking

slugs that were clinging to materials which prevented my crew from passing.

McGyver, eat your heart out.

I guess there are some definite benefits to movin’ on up, because there are

some nasty baddies crawling through the lower levels. The enemy types range

from the grotesque to the just plain weird. Some of these threats are huge,

doubling your own stature. Expect some epic Boss battles.

If you’re interested in the audio quality, you’ll have to wait until we are

blessed with a final version. Unfortunately, none of the audio has yet been

implemented, so playing this preview build was like a brisk walk in the shoes

of the hearing-impaired gamer.

Project Eden will also offer a 2-4 player cooperative experience via

Internet/TCP/IP for multiplayer squad-based mayhem. So make a friend or two

and chain them down until the game ships.

If the preview build is any indication of the immediate future, Project

Eden
is definitely one to keep an eye on. The simple squad-based gameplay

and intriguing story could result in a refreshing take on the action/adventure

genre. If it all comes together the way it should, Eidos just might have another

winner on their hands.