Nowadays consoles are awash with first-person shooters. Everywhere you look, someone is working on one, gearing up to release one or collecting an award for one. They're everywhere, so when you roll out a new FPS you'd better have a hook that's going to set you aside from the ten others coming out around the same time as your game or you're liable for a beat-down. Enter They from Polish dev Metropolis.
It's a science fiction shooter with, quite frankly, not a whole lot to offer on face value. It's London in 2012 (Metropolis might want to think about shifting this date); the world is under attack from marauding tripods, mechanical spiders and angry robots. All kind of familiar so far. Once you start trading bullets with these ruddy great bastards you soon realise that they're not actually the real threat.
Instead the more sinister forces at play are the razor-toothed Abyss-like, floaty, ethereal critters called Phantoms who can control the robots by latching on to them. Interesting. And naturally, nobody can see them except you because, well, you're special. Cue They's quite brilliant hook. Metropolis has concocted an awesome weapons system that should send modding junkies into a feeding frenzy.
Rather than allowing you to progress through the game, collect weapons and store them in a bottomless satchel, They sees you collect countless upgrades and weapon parts throughout the course of the game (somewhere in the region of 250 right now) and mod your weapon to your hearts content from the comfort of your Transporter ship in between missions
Metropolis is calling it Pimp My Gun for now (I'd expect that one to change too, before the game ships at end of next year) offering up to five save slots (you'll need to unlock them first) where you can build and even paint varying degrees of weaponry.
So, say for example you're a sniper at heart; you can craft five variations of the sniper rifle with features like reload time, scope variations and increased fire rate.
It's huge. And Metropolis is hoping that once the game ships it'll be seeing clan-designed weaponry pop up all over the globe. Expect the PSW mega-super-powered-sniper-shotgun-flamethrower sometime next year. Of course, there are limits and Metropolis doesn't want someone building a gun out of 250 different parts, entering the game and blowing up their way to victory. Instead, you're gun comes with an onboard CPU chip that calculates how much free space remains to add additional weaponry.
I played through an extremely early build of the game this month when Metropolis stopped by the PSW towers to show off the shooter and have to say it's looking really impressive, even at this ridiculously early stage of production. The dev team are talking to all the major players out there in the publishing world with an announcement as to who has bagged it expected very soon, with further unveilings at this year's Leipzig Game Convention.
With the lead platform being PC, Metropolis is promising a clean port to PS3 with hopes to offer a slick 1080p shooter.
That said, the developer has noticed that you guys are more interested in smooth framerates, so if it doesn't run at its best at 1080p, they will consider dropping the game down to 720p in favour of a speedier framerate. There's a nice balance of action with puzzles and the environments look stellar too. Throw in plenty of destruction, eerie aliens, maniacal droids and you've got the makings of something really interesting.
Of course, I do have a few concerns with it. Frankly, some of the robots of the game just didn't cut it for me and looked a little ropey so hopefully those will get a bit of an overhaul before the game ships by whichever publisher picks it up for distribution.
Plus, the script was a bit on the clunky side - even though the voiceover work was only template stuff - and in dire need of a serious dialogue polish. I really hope someone's listening. Niggles aside, They has the potential to be huge, especially on the multiplayer front with the weapon modding allowing it to sit nicely alongside Epic's prestigious Unreal Tournament III.
They proves that first impressions can be misleading. On the surface this is a by-the-numbers shooter with a decent game engine behind the action, digging deeper Metropolis' invasion shooter holds a number of trump cards that should ensure some interest long after Resistance 2 has been and gone.
Even though it's 18 months from release They looks and plays like a polished shooter. Still, the script needs a real tidy.