E3 2008: Space Siege
It was clear on the show floor at E3 that PC games weren’t getting all that much attention. While a number of great games are coming out this year for the PC, whenever they were shown, usually the Xbox 360 version was demonstrated and the PC version was only mentioned in passing. PC gaming certainly represents a smaller portion of the money pie, so I guess it’s to be expected, but it’s still depressing to someone who greatly enjoys PC gaming. So, defiantly, I tried to get my hands on every mouse and keyboard I could find, showing every PR person at the show that some people still do care about computer games.
One of the games that I ended up checking out was Space Siege from Gas Powered Games. Coming from the makers of Dungeon Siege, this game plays like, well, Dungeon Siege, just on a ship crusing towards a colony in outer space. Alright, that might be a bit unfair – the game is very different from Dungeon Siege in many regards. While the point-and-click gameplay might be familiar to people who’ve played other games from the company, the futuristic setting and cybernetic upgrade system give the game a distinct and unique feel that separates it from its spiritual predecessor.
The demo started off with me taking the role of Seth Walker who’s on board a space ship bound for a new colony. The trouble is, along the way, the ship was attacked and an evacuation was taking place. These aliens and their robots minions are killing everyone that stands in their way, but fortunately, you have a gun with infinite ammo and there are exploding barrels everywhere. I quickly came to grips with the game’s controls: left-click to move, right-click to shoot. It only gets slightly more complicated when you start pressing the number buttons on the keyboard to unleash special attacks, like throwing grenades and using sniper shots.
Actually, I got so into the game that I started to forget to ask questions and found myself just shooting at everything in the environment. Chock-full of crates and exploding barrels, each area offers a seemingly endless supply of targets waiting to be destroyed. Additionally, the enemies were pretty brutal. I found myself frequently mashing the health button and actually started to take cover behind objects – something I’ve never done in some of the other dungeon crawlers I’ve played.
Once I realized why I was playing the game, I decided to ask the Gas Powered Games representative at the Sega booth some questions about the game. Turns out, the big draw isn’t just the combat, but the very deep cybernetic upgrade system. As the player, you can pimp out your character with all sorts of cybernetic implants. These will help you shoot more accurately, have more health, and use special techniques.
But be warned – while these will make the game easier, the use of cybernetics not only affects the difficultly level, but also how NPCs interact with you and the ending of the game. The representative told me that the game will include three different endings based on how you choose to implement cybernetics. I was told that it will be possible to play the game without cybernetics and to get a different ending, but this is the equivalent of playing the game on “hard mode” according to the rep. In addition to the three endings, there’s an entirely separate campaign for multiplayer that takes place on a whole other ship.
Despite the rather generic title – seriously, you guys couldn’t come up with something a little more compelling or exciting than Space Siege? – this game looks like it’s shaping up to be another premier dungeon crawler from Gas Powered Games. There seems to be a lot of customization and a surprising amount of depth for a game that comes from a genre where you simply click-click-click-click-click over and over again. While the graphics and gameplay seem rather similar to the other games that the company is known for, the setting is unique enough that I don’t think players will feel like they bought Dungeon Siege 2.5 when they pick it up at the end of August.