Space Siege Preview
developer: Gas Powered Games
PIV 2.6 GHz, 512MB RAM, 3GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Aug 12, 08 (released)
|» All About Space Siege on ActionTrip|
With the absolute logistical mayhem that was the E3 this year, inevitably, certain games had to be left out of immediate coverage. I have made a list of these games that I saw and are still fresh in my mind. Now, despite my best efforts and our Associate Editor Ure's persistent threats to write something about Chris Taylor's new game, Space Siege, I made a decision to prioritize games according to how far along into development they are and the extensiveness of the presentation I got for each.
Essentially, what this means is that Space Siege, the spiritual successor to Dungeon Siege, is nowhere near finalization at this point. Not only that; but the team at Gas Powered were a little reluctant to show all the aces up their sleeve. Understandably so. Space Siege is slated to appear sometime in 2008, so the game has quite some ways to go. Nonetheless, I was very fortunate to actually meet Chris along with a couple of other folks from GPG and watch them try and restrain themselves from answering some of the questions I had in front of the ever-watchful PR guys.
Space Siege takes place in the confines of the Armstrong, one of the few remaining colonization ships carrying the last bastions of human civilization after a devastating attack on Earth from an unknown alien race. Players will take the role of Seth Walker, a robotics specialist suddenly thrust into a struggle to save humanity from extermination. As the adventure progresses Seth is offered opportunities to sacrifice pieces of his humanity for cybernetic upgrades that will assist him in his mission to preserve the human race.
We'll get back to the cybernetic upgrades (which are sort of the meat of the RPG aspect and the story itself), but before that, I interrupted the presentation to ask: "Why not another fantasy setting?"
Chris was quick to point out that he simply saw a gap in the action RPG market. There are too many games being centered around Tolkien-esque worlds and many derivatives of thereof, so the team at Gas Powered thought it might be fun to actually expand the genre a bit in that sense. This is all a matter of preference really, I am a huge sword-and-spell buff for example, but a compelling storyline remains just that - compelling no matter which fantasy shell you give it. A good example of this might be what Bioware's doing with Mass Effect. In a sense, both Space Siege and Mass Effect fill out a certain niche within a particular niche segment of the market, which is the single-player action RPG sub-genre.
Going back to the cybernetic upgrades of our main hero, Seth, there are a couple of things that need to be pointed out beforehand. Unlike in Dungeon Siege where you often had a full party of adventurers to lead through the single-player experience, Space Siege will focus on your main character and his robotic side-kick. Upgrade HR-V, your robot companion, with armor, weapons and special equipment will perform offensive and defensive tactical combat maneuvers or combine your efforts and unleash special attack combos.
Of course, since you'll essentially be soloing the main campaign, you can expect Seth to become one mean fighting machine in the process. Cybernetic augmentations can be performed on every part of Seth's body. On the extreme end, players will be able to outfit Seth with cybernetic upgrades that will leave little or none of his original humanity intact. But this choice comes with the risk of alienating Seth from the people he's trying to save. Players can also insist on preserving Seth's humanity by not using upgrades, instead forging ahead clearing the Armstrong of its alien invaders with natural human ingenuity and strength. Such a decision will increase the difficulty of completing his mission of uncovering and eliminating the alien menace that's bent on destroying the human race.
In a nutshell, this is the key to the game. The story, the very structure of the single-player game, will greatly depend on how you choose to develop your character. In that sense, this is a true and true RPG. As Chris pointed out, he wants to give the player a chance to really go all-out with their character - to buff him up into a bad-ass that is a true juggernaut out there, but then, on the other hand, he wants them to ask themselves after a while, "how would have this game been different if I had not turned my character into a cybernetic battle machine that he is now?"
Other humans being distrustful of you will close certain branches in the campaign, and, of course, Space Siege will feature multiple endings. If you take all these facts into consideration, the main goal for Space Siege becomes self-evident.
And in case I need to spell it out for you, we are talking about high replayability in the single-player, a multi-path main campaign with a dynamic storyline which changes as your relationship with the NPCs in the game changes. Who knows, you may end up being the bad guy in the end.
Understandably, the team was very cagey about game specifics - like the loot system, the amount and nature of side-quests (something I enjoyed very much in Dungeon Siege 2), as well as details about character specialization. Nonetheless, I did find out that you will be able to specialize your character as you level, to the extent of turning him into a skilful demolitions expert, or a straight out brawler, etc. Obviously, the possibilities in this regard are numerous. In terms of combat you will be able to outsmart your enemies by setting up ambushes, dodging attacks, ducking behind cover, and using any of the multiple special abilities available to you.
Visually, the animation of the main character is looking superb and what little of the environments I saw looked like they've been designed with care and precision that you'd expect from a well established development team like GPG.
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