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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
7.9
Visuals
8.0
Audio
7.5
Gameplay
8.0
Features
8.0
Replay
7.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Eidos Interactive
DEVELOPER:
Crystal Dynamics
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
RELEASE DATE:
February 22, 2005
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Project: Snowblind

 Written by Chris Reiter  on July 26, 2005

Review: A bad batch of Ex makes for the perfect batter of Snow.


Project: Snowblind may initially appear as just another First Person Shooter that Eidos Interactive and Crystal Dynamics pulled out of their asses, but once you begin to play the game you may start to notice a striking similarity to yet another First Person Shooter in Eidos' arsenal. Deus Ex likely wouldn't be the first name to immediately in your mind when contemplating Project: Snowblind's makings. Why should it? After all, Ion Storm is the creator behind that series, and Project: Snowblind has nothing associated with the franchise at all. Except that, Project: Snowblind wasn't always Project: Snowblind. At one point, this game was in post-production to become the sequel to the widely popular futuristic PC shooter. But then in order for Crystal Dynamics to achieve a space where they could divulge their very own unique shooter without jumping into an already established franchise, they went off and changed the game to the now known underdog that is otherwise just Project: Snowblind.

Life is a cold hearted bitch, and then you die...and get reborn. Nathan Frost was the type of man who was dedicated to his justified means of existence, his honorable duty as a soldier against the warring faction that seeks to destroy mankind as we know it. When Nathan notices an injured compatriot left behind as the craft above drops its bomb toward the infantry's doom, he reaches out to help but ends up beaten. Rushed to the infirmary, Nathan fades from existence and wakes up as a whole new person. Well...make that a thing. No longer the man he once knew himself as, Nathan Frost's fallen corpse has been given a complete overhaul. Half man and half machine, Nathan is the latest breakthrough in this technological war he's about to be remerge into. It is in this militaristic future where an evil general threatens the world with a weapon that'll disable all electronic communication from here on in. Never send a human to get a machine's job done, eh?

Defining its position. Fighting for the glory. Clearing the way for the top spot in the First Person Shooter market. These are not the traits that come to mind exactly when taking into consideration what Project: Snowblind has going for it. This is a First Person Shooter that's story-based, that prides itself on its diversity of weapons and abilities. Yet for all its conceptions, Project: Snowblind isn't in a spot where it can just rise to the top of the ladder. The game's story for one thing isn't one that'll blow you out of the water. Its linear gameplay, watered down AI, and pint-sized battles that are generally not as enthralling as should probably be are some of the elements that put Project: Snowblind at a disadvantage when compared to the rest of the First Person Shooter family. Like most shooters today, Project: Snowblind is playable offline and on. Where online (network and LAN play only; there are no offline multiplayer matchups here), up to 16 players can eliminate and pair up with each other in various regulative modes such as deathmatch (everyone kills everyone), team deathmatch (teams of everyone kills teams of everyone), and capture-the-flag (one team has the flag, and the other goes for it). These long-running genre default inclusions make them kind of pale by now for foreseeable reasons, but there is some innovative stuff here like Hunter, where the one person to embrace the burden of a token is granted all the upgrades and guns while being stalked for advancement possession of the item until death becomes them. Still, the online component doesn't offer much to brag about. With offline just the same, you're going to get just about as much as you'd expect.

Going the way of Deus Ex before it and having an involvement with that particular game, Project: Snowblind dresses players in a human body as Nathan Frost who is in part a machine. Unlike most of the AI soldiers Nathan will team up with or tear up against, Nathan embodies special augmentation elements. Heading throughout the single player campaign (which runs a course over 18 levels) will gradually upgrade Nathan with useful enhancements that enable him powers beyond his enemy's control. Able to slow down time and dodge bullets, to wrap a layer of impervious force field around himself, to switch on an infrared view, to turn invisible, to electrocute surrounding forces with shocking energy: Nathan can do all kinds of things with his supplemental gifts. So long as Nathan has enough energy to do so, anyhow. On the top left of the HUD are two colored gauges in a circular display, one red and one blue tracing how much health and how much energy Nathan has left to go. These bars are both refillable and increase over time to maximize their potency as Nathan locates the pickups that allow for this to happen. Ammo, health, weapon, and energy items are available most often inside breakable storage crates Nathan can punch through, found laying around the environment and on the defeated humanoid and droids Nathan sets his sights on putting down.

Having a diverse amount of amplifications bestowed upon Nathan is indeed cool stuff. On the other hand, cheating isn't exactly an integral part of Project: Snowblind. It is, and then it isn't. These developmental boosts will aid Nathan especially down the line when enemies start to go ghost on him and cloak themselves in their own translucent body armor. They help out when Nathan finds himself in major fire fights against large mechanical and human enemies when alone in his travels (which will happen often). But a wide variety of strengthening abilities aren't his only trick. Nathan is handed a multitude of weaponry to put to good use just the same. Lots of gun types you might typically expect from a futuristic shooting game are pretty much all here. The sniper rifle, the shotgun, the silenced pistol, the carbine, the rail gun, and quite a few others like an electricity-inducing blaster, a bazooka, and a mine launcher. Playing around with Nathan's brutal arsenal is fun because the best part is, practically each weapon comes with its own secondary fire rate that provides an alternate method opposite of the primary. The energy ray isn't just for electrifying robotic killers. Press down on the supporting fire method (R2) and it'll stick an energy ball onto still or moving objects and drain the life from anything that comes within range. The rail gun can blast laser beams through walls without the target knowing you're coming. But, this gadget can also shove back enemies with a thrust of energy waves right in their defeated faces.

Sometimes it's better not to put Nathan's life on the line, though, as Nathan is by no means invincible. Dying is made easy if you're not totally careful by ducking behind cover and walls for protection; although it is possible to revive Nathan with goodies Nathan will come across in his travels. One of the more interesting and unique additions to Project: Snowblind though, is Nathan's ability to overwrite AI robots so that they side with him. Using this projectile needle instrument labeled ice pick, Nathan can tap into security systems or motioning mech bodies. Shutting down operative cameras, switching automated turrets and security bots to murderlize nearby forces, and manually hijacking a mech's body to blast foes with laser beams and rockets, Nathan can be direct or he can take the back door through to the defeat of his enemies. Assorted grenades are yet another option with which to attack the opposition in Snowblind. Fragging, blinding, smoke, and yes even grenades that disable electronic devices are some of the kinds Nathan will come across. With as large an arsenal as Nathan's got on hand, it's easy to see how it makes it harder for him to die and to often ignore the usage of those body buildups of his.

Exactly what details Nathan's mission-based prerogatives see him standing alongside human companions or alone ousting enemies in cover-littered hallways, in bases, in rubble-reduced and rampaged town squares and more. Most of the time objectives are very straightforward in these eradicating endeavors, since each level is not extremely broad to begin with. Nathan will terminate computer systems by locating switches on walls. He'll release prisoners to aid him against the opposition. He'll find and protect a scientist. He'll infiltrate into guarded sectors to destroy computer-operated turrets. He'll even go face to face with an android boss who like Nathan was once a man. Goals like these aren't the most innovative or impressive to date (especially the way the game structures them), but they do get the job done. With the stages of the game being small and all, tracking down Nathan's next destinations that are marked off by yellow dots on his radar beacon luckily isn't made too hard for him. Nether is operating the thing that is Nathan Frost. The game will handily guide players through frozen and interactive tutorial screens for dealing with the game's manipulative structure, like what is done with most First Person Shooters these days. Laid out between the back and face buttons, the directions of the game are fairly simple to comprehend as weapon selection and usage is made by pressing L2 and scrolling down a cache of options while the action pauses. The principal and subordinate fire methods (R1 and R2) are naturally paired together for easy practice. Pairing this all with the grenade tossing (L1), gun reloading/item operating (square), jumping (X), augmentation accession (triangle), and standard dual analog subjection, Project: Snowblind shouldn't take more than at least fifteen minutes to start on your way to becoming a pro.

Look but don't touch. Not that what's there is the most aesthetically fascinating design there is to see, anyway. In handing out an effective if more traditional rather than original game to play, Project: Snowblind doesn't offer the most groundbreaking treatment for its visual schematics either. Face forward and body flowing into the onset ahead, the world that the game captures is broken up into the demolished aftermaths of combat-affected enclosed streets, through leafy gardens, through sewage passes, and into computer surrounded fortresses. Dead bodies and vehicles lay about. Scorched signs and destructible concrete remain. Scathed stairwells, smashed windows, and numerous obstructions' lay about the fortified territories Nathan will descend upon. While the condition of its hard-edged graphics isn't all that bad in appearance, Project: Snowblind has ordinary characteristics. The level designs become sort of repetitive and unexciting when you have lightly textured objects, computer consoles, blurred crates, smoky sections, and other objects that don't enhance or vastly differentiate the stages from one another. Human and robotic characters are really no different, being made into generic parts and pieces. Either you have your allies mainly outfitted in visible head gear and task force suits, or your enemies in masks and glowing goggles or the mech types slapped together with uninterestingly straightforward blocky builds. There are some enticing effects, like when thrashing the screen in a total energy surge, or blasting through chunks of crumbling pillar to nail an enemy on the other side. Much force-based, explosive, and purely leaded fighting assemble through the scenic routes here. Unfortunately, the game only does so much good as it doesn't quite pound enough of a visceral supply into the tank running its optical ground.

Booms are in bloom, fryings are on the rise, and zaps are where it's at. Project: Snowblind shoots itself in the knees and bleeds out the types of necessitated sound panoramas for its variety of things that kill. Toting the carbine, distilling the air with voltaic sprightliness, hobbling ahead in a mechanized machine: these audio fillings come to ear when you're engaged in the action. Diverse collections of audible auras from each weapon shot, to each weapon reload are produced from all the beeps and clicks of various proprietary indications. Though not remarkable performance-wise, these noises react when they should and do a good job at it. Directing in the background of the climaxing death count is the orchestrated numbers that seem to fit pretty well with the influenced occurrences of the game. Strongly lit and subtle musical accompaniments through the blaze of battle to the calm before the confrontation, there's a blend of visionary themes strung throughout the progressive levels pertaining to each one's mood. Taking a step back though, the sweeping vocals of Project: Snowblind don't help as much in making the game gain that extra noteworthy walk ahead. Common talent puts Nathan and the rest of the humdrum bunch into assigned positions that don't exactly personify their characters to the fullest. In a game like Halo you have Master Chief, whose gruff voice lends him a decisively unique identity gamers can really learn to love. In Project: Snowblind, gamers get Nathan Frost, whose so-so "regular guy" dialogue does nothing to spark that same level of intrigue like that other known mysterious masked agent of virtue.

Bottom Line
Compare and contrast all you want. When it comes down to it, there isn't much that can be said about Project: Snowblind to make you see it's worthier or even in league with the many other First Person Shooter titles already on the market. Project Snowblind is far from being a revolting release. This game right here is definitely not something you'd want to pass by if you had the opportunity to give it a chance. The truth of the matter is though, that there are far better shooters out there in the mix that have done stuff better and done it first. Halo, Red Faction, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Quake II and even much of the Medal of Honor series. Against classics like these, Project: Snowblind doesn't hold much of a candle. Its wax stick is more like a melting lump of goo in the palm of your hand. Project: Snowblind's most inviting attributes is its jumble of powers and weapon classifications. Everything else however is just not perpetuating the game in the genre-defining standards it should be setting instead of rehashing. You want to be a part of the most ingenious war ever caused? Keep walking -- because it's 1,000 or so miles far ahead from where Project: Snowblind's going.


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