Project: Snowblind Review

Developer: Crystal Dynamics Publisher: Eidos
Release Date: February 22, 2005 Also On: PC, PS2 and Xbox

The Xbox is so saturated with shooters, it has become a difficult task to differentiate between them. For a shooter to be considered a ‘success’ on the Xbox, it needs to not just improve upon what has been undertaken, but it needs to surpass it with innovative new ideas. Project: Snowblind seemed up for the task pre-launch, but did it actually claim the throne as the number one Xbox FPS?

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Not quite. Project: Snowblind falls short in a number of areas. Despite these shortfalls (more on them a little later), Crystal Dynamics quite successfully salvaged what could have been only a mediocre shooter by adding extensive Xbox Live support. In other areas, such as the single player experience, it felt a tad bit rushed.

The single-player element can be breezed through in about five to seven hours, depending on skill level. From what I gathered from the storyline, you play as a military grunt, on a mission to bring down a rogue general and a separatist group. This group, known as the Republic, is capable of launching an EMP bomb. It’s your job to stop them. It’s not the most unique storyline by any means, but it justifies all the killing.

What is unique is your character, Nathan Frost. During the first level, your base is under attack. You’ll get a good dose of action from the beginning. At the end of the level, after you take out all the enemies, including walking mechanical menaces and a helicopter, you get blasted by a rocket when trying to save a comrade. As a result, you become the first in a top-secret weapons program to create a super soldier.

Frost is capable of such abilities as ‘enhanced vision’ (see through walls), cloak, reflex boost (fancy name for bullet time), electrical storm (electrical discharge), and ballistic shield (absorbs attacks). Some of these are nothing new, and in fact, have been seen in some recent games, such as GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Project: Snowblind seems to make better use of them, despite the developer’s inability to require them in any one situation.

The same can be said for the weapons. You never get a feeling of necessity when choosing a weapon. They all get the job done equally. Some are more affective at long range (sniper), others at short (shot gun), and others with large mechanical monstrosities, such as the Ogres (a rocket launcher).

The weapons selection is what differentiates Project: Snowblind from its competition. If you’re a thrill seeker, Snowblind will keep you thrilled all night with its large array of high-class weaponry. Aside from standard-issue weapons like the carbine, pistol, and shotgun, Snowblind offers weapons like the rail-gun, Fletcher (disperses energy), and some other weapons that you’d think would be more appropriate for a sci-fi game. Nonetheless, this assortment of weapons is a real treat. Better yet, there’s a slew of secondary weapons to choose from, and that doesn’t even cover things like grenades, flash grenades, etc.

The problem that I have with the single-player is two-fold. The pace of the game is great; you don’t encounter any puzzles that act only to divert your attention, like some other FPS’ do. This game is all-out action, all the time. The problem is in the AI’s inability to think as a team. Sure, they duck and cover, they’ll throw flash grenades, etc., but if you wait long enough, they’ll come, one by one, into the room that you’re in, allowing you to blast them. This obviously won’t work in all situations, especially in tight-quarters, but it’s a problem, especially in early levels.

The other problem that I had with the game was with the vehicles. The Ogre is a blast to use and the tank can be, but the other vehicles are pure crap. The physics engine must have been designed by middle-schoolers. Your car won’t flip when it probably should, while other times it may flip when it shouldn’t, and there’s really no collision detection to speak of. I found this to only be a problem with the non-tank, non-Ogre vehicles. Overall, had they left out the vehicles with both driving problems and physics problems, I’d have been much happier.

On to the online component. First let me say, don’t even buy Project: Snowblind if you don’t plan to play it on Xbox Live or PS2 Online. It’s not worth your hard-earned money to spend on 5-7 hours of single-player gameplay. That said, if you do expect to play Snowblind online, you’re in for a treat. The experience is among the finest in the online FPS community.

While Nathan’s abilities aren’t retained; you don’t need them to enjoy the all-out fragfest. With up to 16 players in a variety of gameplay settings (Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Hunter, Demolition, etc.), you’re going to be in store for some good times. Unlike Halo 2, Snowblind offers you the ability to customize your experience fully. Set the time limit, kill limit, level rotation, player limits, etc. You even have the option to join and form your own clan. The one major problem that I had with the online component was the explosives, which are over-powering.

At the end of the day, Project: Snowblind manages to exceed the offerings of most Xbox shooters, but fails to capitalize on its full potential. Had more time been put into the story, the vehicles, and the slightly above par AI, this could have been a Halo-killer. As it is, I would easily recommend Project: Snowblind to any FPS enthusiast that currently owns a PS2 or Xbox.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.3
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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