Shattered Horizon

“Shattered Horizon sees players fight in the aftermath of a catastrophic Moon mining accident that throws billions of tons of rocky debris into near-Earth space.”

The very aptly titled Shattered Horizon is Futuremark’s first proper foray into the gaming space. While the company has dabbled in gaming software before – including having once effectively been a part of Remedy Entertainment, and later with the release of a 2007 Intel-only multicore demonstration, the company is ultimately known to us for their ubiquitous benchmarking software, 3DMark and PCMark (we’ve also seen members of the company as Mature Furk, among other crews, in the demo scene – in this sense the game is a return to form).

This ‘specially spatial shooter, then, is all PhysX’d up, optimized for multi-core machines and comes, in a slight conflict of interests, packaged with the NVIDIA seal. Some more elaboration about the game’s themes and features coupled with the most recent promotional trailer for the game - all this after the jump!

Its free-flying gameplay is split into three modes: Battle, in which two teams capture control points, Assault, a “push”-style scenario in which captured points change ownership permanently, and finally Skirmish, which is essentially team deathmatch. The choice to only include 32 simultaneous players per fight during the closed beta is a surprisingly low number for a game with such tremendous implications of room and distance, so I only have to assume the company’s direction for level design both forces and focuses the action into closer quarters by making the combat more reliant on cover and positioning.

shattered_horizon_ss_06The setting indeed has many intriguing implications: The jetpacks used by the astronauts, for instance, glare brightly in the dark, forcing players to come to terms with their kinetic energy if they wish to remain unseen. The constraints of the space suits restrict combatants to using one multi-functional weapon only, and shooting while moving too can be a difficult exercise due to the lack of balancing support. Various types of tactical grenades – ICE, EMP and MPR – also play a factor in the combat.

With a belt of rock preventing travel and shipments between the Earth and the Moon, the most intriguing aspect of the game to me is the setting’s potential for displaying tangible desperation that is achieved without having to include the commonly utilized monsters and aliens, instead only taking away our basic needs to create a shared sense of fear for our (well-)being.

shattered_horizon_ss_08After all, the current notion of outer space has so far implied to mankind a profound sense of abandonment - of human interaction, personal space and material resource - thus rendering it a major theme for sci-fi. Shattered Horizon’s potential twist, then, is how deep space horror often utilizes the claustrophobia of narrow, Nostromous and submarine-like corridors of various space vessels. The notion of being free of this usual type of constraint - but nevertheless effectively capsized between Mother Earth and the Moon - sounds very refreshing to me; the allure of the concept is of course furthered by the definite collision course created by the conflict for prolonged sustenance.

Hopefully Futuremark Games, despite the project’s apparent focus on the more combative aspects of the deep space existence, will be able to capitalize on the excellent concept and bring over to us a great sense of desperation, subsequently establishing a conflict that feels real. The official website has just been given a good old-fashioned HTML overhaul to override a pre-existing promotional Flash. Do give it a whirl!

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