Shattered Horizon Hands-On Preview

Written by Joe Martin

September 7, 2009 | 10:22

Tags: #gravity #hands-on #moon #preview #shattered-horizon #space #vantage #zero-g

Companies: #futuremark #gamescom

Shattered Horizon Hands-On

Once you’ve played for a few minutes, the reality is that Shattered Horizon doesn’t handle hugely different from any other games other than how it handles momentum. Space is your upwards thrust, Shift your downwards, C gives you a punt of speed and the mouse and keyboard orientate you as per usual – so it’s largely similar to the underwater sections in most current games.

What complicates things a bit are the levels that the action is set in – goliath and skeletal structures like the ISS, or floating mammoth rocks that have been burrowed through and made cavernous by the explosion that threw these moon rocks into space. Navigating through these tunnels and weaving among the satellite dishes can require a touch of finesse if you’re attempting it while under heavy fire.

Speaking of being under fire, the weapons in Shattered Horizon are one area of the game which are definitely worthy of a mention – if only because there’s only one of them. The reason is apparently that in space you’d likely not want to fiddle around with multiple different weapons and you’d be unable to switch quickly, so all your firepower has been condensed into a single assault rifle and sniper rifle combo, with an under-barrel grenade launcher.

*Shattered Horizon Hands-On Preview Shattered Horizon Preview
Click to enlarge

In standard mode the weapon in Shattered Horizon is your average lead-throwing boomstick, but zoom it in and it switches to fire ten bullets at a time, which can deplete your ammo rather quickly – and it’s difficult to get spare bullets when you’re 1,000 miles above the earth. It’s also worth noting (at least if you want to avoid frustration) that it’s pretty much impossible to do any decent sniping unless you’re latched onto the floor, ceiling or walls. Something solid, at any rate.

The easiest way to make contact with the ground is simply to downwards thrust into it for a moment, allowing your boots to connect to it and stay gripped to it unless you push off again. If you have problems lining up with a surface then getting close and tapping F will align you with the nearest flat surface, which is a surprisingly practical and intuitive solution considering that most other games would turn it into either a mini-game or QTE.

The lone rifle at your disposal isn’t just limited to just the two types of firing though and there’s a selection of different grenades at your disposal, though they differ from what you might expect. The default grenade at your disposal is an ICE pack which fires off a packet of water vapour to create a short-lived spherical smokescreen. The second is an EMP blast that’s useful for disorientating foes by disrupting their HUD and disabling the 3D radar that sits in the bottom of the screen.

*Shattered Horizon Hands-On Preview Shattered Horizon Preview
Click to enlarge

It’s the last one which interested us most though – a type of concussion grenade that detonates once it’s gone a short distance from the rifle. On the surface it would look to be the most offensive item at your disposal and pretty analogous to a standard frag grenade – but such things wouldn’t work too well in space when you think about it.

Instead, the MPR grenade is most useful for pushing things around, not damaging them and in our short time fighting against one of FutureMark’s developers at GamesCom showed just how handy it is for knocking opponents out from behind their cover. A well placed MPR grenade that detonates close to someone can send them spiralling out of bounds quite easily and into the ‘micro-meteorite field’ that surrounds all of the battlefields and kills anyone reckless enough to attempt re-entry.

One of the joys of being in such an unconventional setting as the one realised in Shattered Horizon is being able to come up with brand new tactics and ways to win, obviously. It’s here that the MPR grenades can come into play again, allowing you to send loose cargo crates or smaller asteroids spiralling across the battlefield – possibly with you attached to their underside and shooting down on any opponents you are carried past.
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