Eyes-on / Jumpgate Evolution

The above trailer is great. It shows how epic the space battles can be, but it really doesn’t do the game justice. The game is beautiful. We’re not doing a comparison to Flower or throwing this game to the wolves in the “videogames are art” debate; but the game is hot–it definitely has its geek/sci-fi sex appeal. We were lucky enough to check out Jumpgate Evolution at Comic Con with Scott Brown, the president of developer Net Devil.

We picked up the open game and promptly got on a targets tail and blew them away. The controls seemed easy enough with a jet fighter feel to it. Brown commented on how the designers tried to make sure space wasn’t black and empty, and as we rounded the asteroid we were behind I could see what he meant. It looked like something out a Hubble photo–space dust, and glows around far out star systems, a nearby jumpgate and a massive capital ship (ok, so those last two wouldn’t show up an any Hubble photo the United States government is willing to publicly release). When we got up to the capital ship, Brown zoomed out for a sense of scale. It looked like an ant parked next to a hummer, only much cooler.

Brown said he was proud of the graphics but even more proud that “they run on everything.” In an effort to deny no one the opportunity to play, Jumpgate can run on older systems with just a GeForce 2 graphic card and without a shader. It works with laptops, like the older one running the demo, with low-end brands all the way up to the ultimate gaming PC with the three monitor flight sim set up.

Jumpgate Evolution is as inclusive as it is visually stunning. Like with the graphics, Net Devil supports as many gameplay styles as they do hardware, so more people will find their own way to play. They support joysticks, gamepads, head tracking devices, and more. “If you want to build a spaceship in your basement, if you want to have the 3 monitors and 2 joysticks and the seats that move and all that stuff, we should support it.” As if to demonstrate this Brown then got in an “I’ll have their people call your people” conversation with someone about just that.

Not only can players get the thrill of flying around and blowing stuff up, they can also mine for materials, craft ships, go to auctions, get emails and more. All the standard fair of modern MMOs are there. Credits and experience are gained as the game is played, so players that are more into buying, selling, trading and mining are still rewarded. It reminded me of Beyond Protocol, the incredibly massive–do anything and everything–MMORTS. There a player could do pretty much anything and never even touch combat if they didn’t want to, but I thought the graphics suffered for it. Here being a fighter pilot is the focus and its working very well for them.

Another great thing about Jumpgate is their take on PvP. Players won’t need separate accounts to play on PvP servers. Instead, there are sections of open space where PvP takes place and players can choose to go there or not. As well, there will be full voice support, so players can fly up behind someone, target them, click to get an direct link and say, “Boggie on your six,” and they’re toast.

Jumpgate Evolution is due out in June, but eager gamers can sign up for the Beta now.