PREVIEW / Interstellar Marines (PC)


Zero Point Software brings to Steam a game that has been in the works for some time and is now ready to let gamers everywhere jump in and help to fine tune their new IP.  Interstellar Marines is now available via the Steam Early Access program and is poised to redefine what gamers think of First Person Shooters.  As mankind begins its approach to the 22nd Century, the discovery of a new inexhaustible energy source brings new hope to mankind and a determination to leave Earth to begin exploring the deepest corners of our galaxy.  This new energy source, known as Zero Point Energy, has allowed mankind to travel to distant planets and to begin colonizing them putting humanity on a path towards an inevitable consequence: its first contact with an unknown alien species.

To ensure that our progress is not hindered, you have been enlisted into a top secret program, code named Project IM, to curtail the threat against humanity and safeguard the discovery of new planets and new energy resources. Though this might sound like your typical “space marine” storyline, Interstellar Marines is not just your average first person shooter. Zero Point Software has set out to create not just another run-of-the-mill FPS, but instead a first-person simulator that combines deep, engaging storytelling, finely tuned character development and military style assault action to turn the genre on its head.



Interstellar Marines gives the player the ability to immerse themselves in a science fiction world where it is up to them to stop the alien threat by any means necessary.  In the multiplayer component of the game, players will have the choice between 27 different upgradable weapons.  Character classes, unfortunately, have not been revealed at this time but are forth coming.  The currently available multiplayer feature consists of the Deadlock game mode that has the player and his team of 1–4 players facing off against another team for control of the map.  Gameplay consists of capturing seven control zones on the selected map or the complete annihilation of the entire enemy team to secure a victory.  If you or a teammate is killed, you must wait 120 seconds for a respawn, however, if there is just one person on your team left alive, that person can bring back teammates quicker by dispatching players on the opposing team.

At this early stage in the development of Interstellar Marines, I was really surprised at the level of detail in the environments that are available for players to nose around in.  The multiplayer maps contain all of the typical accoutrements such as cargo crates, downed spacecraft, rocks, trees, aircraft hangars and bodies of water, just to name a few.  These elements all look like they have been painstakingly crafted so as to fit within the storyline of the game.  The lighting effects are still a little wonky at this time, however, and I should note that there is a working day to night feature that still needs a lot of work.  Nighttime, or just dark areas in the hangar maps, gets very dark and you can’t see anything unless there is a flash of lightening or you use your flashlight.  Using your flashlight helps a bit but it gives away your position allowing enemy fighters to zero in on your location.



The sound effects in Interstellar Marines are what you would expect in a game of this type.  Gun blasts from the particular weapon that you are using are loud and crisp and give the weapons a sense of weight and power.  If you happen to hit and element in the environment, you will get the appropriate sound associated with a bullet hitting that specific surface.  Fire at a wall in the hangar and you get a metallic, clanking sound or fire at a tree or into the water and you will get the sound of splintering wood or splashing water, respectively.  There isn’t a whole lot of music in the soundtrack, save for the opening intro song and the music you hear at the menu screen.  Zero Point Software is promising to release a soundtrack when the game is completed and you can currently download for free one song from their web site.

Interstellar Marines is looking to make a real impact on the FPS genre and I think that they have a real shot to garnering a loyal following.  I must stress that this game is very early in development and the version that is available for purchase now is very buggy.  When I first booted the game up, I got weird shapes that were supposed to be the warning that the game is a work in progress.  I only know this because I got it to work one time out of about twenty tries by accident and was able to read the text at that point.  In addition, the ability to get to the menu screen when launching the game, most often than not, will not appear on the screen.  The game would automatically take me to the Playground mode which just allows the player to walk around in one of the 10 maps by yourself to get acquainted with its features.  Most times in one of the Playground maps, I was unable to open up the menu screen to navigate to a different part of the game and I would have to just close it down and try to launch it again in hopes that it would load correctly.  I was able, however, to get into four multiplayer games and I have to say that the controls were responsive, the action is fast and twitch-based and the Deadlock game-type was fairly fun to play.



At this point in Interstellar Marines’ development, the game as it stands will only appeal to those players that are interested is watching the development of a triple-A title from the ground up.  If you want to help shape the direction that this game is going in and you have an interest is seeing how a game of this caliber is built, then I would suggest that you jump in and purchase the Spearhead Edition of the game.  This will give you all future updates and a bunch of bonus content that is only going to be given to Spearhead members.  On the other hand, if you are looking for something new to play and stumble cross this game in the Steam marketplace, do not buy it because it is not a finished game.  Wait until the game is completed and I can guarantee that it will be an experience that was worth waiting for.