Meet your crater.
I don’t know how many first-person shooters I’ve heard about over just the past few years, but only a few of them were on a handheld console, and with the exception of Metroid Prime, I can’t think of one for the DS. Except this one of course, but I was getting to that.
[image1]Moon is fairly simple and straight-forward: You play as a military man in search of fallen and lost comrades down in the bowels of (wait for it) the moon! Most of your friends are in a base that mankind didn’t know existed, so you better stand up straight, hold your nose (through the mandatory helmet of your space suit), and dive right into the darkness and evil that’s waiting for you. But are they really evil? What the hell is down in that hole? I have a feeling there ain’t no bunnies down there, but that’s about all I know…
The movie clips that start the story are interesting and feel almost ripped from a higher-end PS1 game (which, in this case, is a compliment). While a bit grainy, they’re actually voice-acted and clear as to what’s going on, though the in-game chats are silent and text-y. There isn’t much diversity in the characters’ appearances, but they each serve enough of a purpose here; it’s an FPS with a storyline, so this is about as good as can be expected. It’s standard as far as storytelling, with a constant “go forward and find out more for yourself” vibe throughout. It’s perfectly possible to push forward and completely ignore any story elements, but they’re interesting enough to make you want to stop and read the odd bits of conversation.
As far as controls, it’s set up just like you’d think: look with the stylus, move with the D-pad, shoot with the shoulder button. The only adjustment available is being able to switch from the left and the D-pad to the right and the face buttons (it is nice to see some devs offering left-handed controls). But even if it sounds completely logical, there’s one little problem: Unless you have some tiny palms and digits, the hand you decide to use is going to cramp up like the “victim” of a good chili cook-off. There typically aren’t too many enemies to shoot in each room you enter, so your hand remains in that position for long periods of time. Not doing anything… like that guy in your group who constantly whines, “Are we there yet?”
[image2]Both a perk and a down-side is that the method of exploration is so reminiscent of Metroid that throughout each area of the map, I feel like I’ve played it before. There’s more direction here that just a drop-and-roam sandbox, though, so it loses a bit of that feeling by being distinctly more linear. Even still, it’s definitely influenced by the Prime series, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the names in the credits are familiar.
For a “deep”, story-driven FPS – on a handheld console, no less – Moon stands out. Even with its flaws, it has a kind of Armaggeddon charm (if there is such a thing) that can keep your interest for a while. Maybe not until a new Half-Life or Halo, but it does something for the portable landscape.
Now, if only the Moonenites would show up, this would be the complete package!