PAX East: Hands on With Fallen Frontier
Last week developer Moonshot Games officially announced their first project, Fallen Frontier. I had the opportunity to play the title at PAX and came away impressed with its initial showing. For those unfamiliar, Fallen Frontier is a side scrolling shooter that plays in a similar manner to Shadow Complex. Some elements, such as regenerating health, also deliberately pull from the Halo franchise (several team members previously served key roles at Bungie).
The demo I played consisted of running through one of the game’s early stages in two player co-op. Although we were both playing on the same screen, we weren’t tethered to the same view of the action. Both players of course started in the same area, but the view would split dynamically when one wandered away from the other. The two view points would then merge back together when the characters caught up to each other. I’m not sure how effective this will be over the course of the entire game, but it worked well in my limited time with the title. While it never cropped up during my play through, I am a tad concerned that it might lead to deaths via bullets that couldn’t be seen until the last second. In any case, it was nice to see them doing something to address an issue that has plagued cooperative side scrollers since their inception.
The demo gave me four different guns to play around with (Assault Rifle, Sniper Rifle, Shotgun and Carbine) along with the capacity to carry up to three grenades. Frags deliver a hefty payload in Fallen Frontier which allows you take out multiple foes even when they are spread out a bit. This approach makes ‘nades extremely useful but also dangerous. Thinking I was at a safe distance (despite warnings from to the contrary from a Moonshot staffer) I tossed one at a couple enemies and waited for the ensuing explosion. To my surprise (I really should have heeded the warning) my character was blasted backwards and lost a substantial chunk of health in the process. Next time I was more careful and took care to enjoy blowing up a cluster of enemies from a safe distance.
For the final version of the game, Moonshot is hoping to include up to a dozen different guns. You’ll start with the standard Assault Rifle but the various other weapons will be available for pick up throughout the game. Gunning down enemies with the Carbine will feel like slipping into an old pair of sneakers to Halo fans. It was designed to mimic the old Battle Rifle with its three round burst that is effective at netting head shots at medium range. For long distance kills, the Sniper Rifle will supposedly cause the view to zoom out in the final game (this functionality has yet to be implemented into co-op).
Early on in the campaign, gamers will acquire a grappling hook item that has several important uses, the most obvious of which is for platforming; shoot it into a platform and you’ll rapidly be slung across the environment. This maneuver is useful for platforming through levels and pulling yourself out of harm’s way. Its functionality doesn’t stop there, however. You can grab enemies at a distance with the gadget as well and quickly close the gap before nailing them with a shotgun blast or melee attack. Your ally can be grabbed as well if players working together want to pull each other out of sticky situations. Those with more devious intentions can use this move to cause trouble by yanking their buddy into danger.
The developers were unwilling to divulge too much in the way of story but did provide a few details. In the world of Fallen Frontier, man has colonized other planets. These colonies are run by giant companies and the protagonist has just awoken from stasis after a 25 year trek to the colony on Alpha Centauri. He is a bounty hunter and has come to Centauri on a mission of vengeance for some mysterious personal reasons. Moonshot’s representative said the game will be heavily story driven and presented in a gloomy noir style. The level in the demo portrayed a dreary setting with sheets of rain pouring down. For the time being, we’re being kept in the dark as to who exactly the main character is and why he is fighting this unknown enemy force.
Fallen Frontier is currently without a publisher so the exact platforms it will appear on are still undecided. That being said, the team would like to bring it to XBLA, PSN and Steam when it releases sometime during 2012. So far the game looks sharp and the game play holds some real promise. I did have a few minor gripes, however. Movement speed felt too slow for my liking (although this is offset some by the grappling hook). I’d also like to see more enemy variety, but that can probably be written off to the fact that I only played a single stage.
With the release still far off, the team has plenty of time to build on what is already a fun experience. I’m eager to play the title again to discover what else Moonshot has in store for us. For now, check out the newest footage of the game in action below and let us know what you think.