Review by jldugger
"That which burns brightest burns shortest"
Before I describe Snowblind, a history lesson is in order. Deus Ex was a pivotal game that combined a first person shooter with an RPG, quite successfully. The game was very deep, both in plot and in game structure. Snowblind was originally envisioned as a sequel of sorts to the world of Deus Ex. Either because the direct sequel wasn't a hit, or because Snowblind was radically different than the original, they've dropped the connection, although it isn't difficult to see the parallels. Deus Ex has been called the "thinking man's" shooter, although I think the term is quite condescending.
In some ways, Project Snowblind was a worthy sequel, and in some ways, it deserved to have the link dropped. Snowblind is a far more action oriented game than Deus Ex ever was, and this change in focus is largely what causes this schism.
The plot of Snowblind is surprisingly simple and mindless, about a crazy general who's internal conflicts between his goals and his own personality are only resolved with a bullet to his head (several actually). While the plot is very bland and stupid, the presentation is EXTREMELY immersive. Dialog is almost entirely heads up and doesn't interrupt your gameplay. This is especially disorienting during the first level, but it seems intended to overwhelm you and works quite well. There are a few cutscenes, mostly between levels, and you are allowed to skip them if you so chose.
The gameplay of Snowblind can be easily seen as a action oriented twist to the original game. You run around and shoot people with machine guns, rockets and sniper rifles, you hack into electronics, and you're endowed with a growing set of nano-augmentations that temporarily bestow abilities like invisibility and enhanced vision at the price of some bioenergy. But you can't activate more than a single aug at once, which would have been nice (although difficult to implement). The interface has been vastly improved in some respects. Gone is the awkward inventory screen, and the upgrade and augumentation screens. Instead you can find modules to increase certain stats like life and bioenergy. Also fixed is that short matter of getting lost in the maze-like hallways of various buildings. Snowblind brings to the table a waypoint beacon, and if you get headed the wrong way, it will add more beacons to the heads up to make a trail for you to basically follow. If you think this gets annoying, don't worry because one of the first things you learn is how to turn that on and off.
There are 18 levels filled with ludicrous numbers of enemy armies, sentry robots and even a few drivable vehicles. The battles you fight will often involve many of your own comrades, which really makes you feel like you're in a war, with bullets surrounding you, allies ducking behind cover to reload, yelling out orders, the works. Adding to this immersion is the amount of stuff that falls apart around you as you're being shot. Concrete bannisters, pillars, and make shift barricades all come apart under heavy enemy fire. Basically, this is the best out and out assault game I've had the pleasure of playing. It seems designed for large multiplayer games, but unfortunately it doesn't look like anybody plays online anymore.
There is also a very rich multiplayer setup, with like ten different modes. Internet multiplayer was one of the weaknesses of Deus Ex, but while this game seems to have it beat, I couldn't find any game servers to play on. A little experimenting on a server I hosted on my own indicated that there was a decent selection of maps and a couple even have sentry bots and vehicles to ride. Sounds awesome.
There is the matter of bugs and crashes. I personally played through the entire game without a crash, although i did notice one odd bug where the mouse pointer came up during a cutscene and never went away. This only happened to me once, and it fixed itself after I restarted the game. Other people have been reporting game crashes left and right, but I haven't noticed a single one. Fortunately, there's a demo you can run to see if it will handle okay.
Overall, I'd say the experience was pretty good, and definately worth the time. My one word of caution is that most retailers won't let you return software, even if it outright doesn't work.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/05
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