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Review of Project Eden
Project Eden utilizes some unique gameplay elements that are rarely implemented in videogames today. The game can be played out in either 1st person or 3rd person views and these “styles” can be changed on the fly at any time during the story. Gamers get to control a team of four Urban Protection Agency (UPA’s) employees, each with their own special skills and talents. There will be many times where all four players must work in tandem to get specific missions or elements in the game accomplished. While the execution of this could have been very sloppy, I feel the developers have done a very good job at pulling this off.
Your team will consist of Carter; who is the UPA squad leader. He has a higher level of security access than the rest of the team and is often the “go-to” person during crunch times. His no-nonsense approach to things makes him a strong and reliable leader. Next up is Minoko. She is the computer whiz of gang and comes in handle when you need to hack into the computer network. She is also a good fighter and makes a good number 2 to Carter. Andre is the handyman of the team and can fix virtually anything. At many stages in the game his expertise will be called upon to fix broken electronic door locks and such. Rounding out the team is a Cyborg named Amber. It appears that poor Amber is having some severe issues coping with her situation and is often silent and rather introverted. She does however come in handle when you need someone to go into areas where hazardous gases exist that would normally kill a human. There is one other member of the team named Control. Carter interacts with him on a regular basis and receives mission objectives and various types of information from him.
The game is played out in an extremely over populated Earth of the future where skyscrapers reach literally up to the skies with old construction being supplanted by new, virtually right over the existing infrastructure. There is also very real pecking order in existence with the “higher ups” or sky dwellers being the elite and the ground dwellers being the underbelly of civilization.
As things would have it, Carter’s team is called upon to investigate some strange happenings at a meat-packing factory where all of the machinery has started to simultaneously malfunction. The ‘Real Meat’ factory is located at ground level so you can expect to run into all sorts of unsavory characters during gameplay.
To help your team fight their way out of difficult situations, everyone is armed with a kick ass pulse gun. These little beauties pack a pretty little punch and will get the team out of difficult situations. As gameplay progresses, access to other weapons become available and existing weapon upgrades can also occur. There is even one cool weapon that stops time around that enemy, essentially rendering them frozen and helpless…locked within in their own little sliver of stopped time.
To further assist the team, remote gadgets can be used. I particularly liked the little Rover unit that can be guided about and used to get into places where your team can’t fit. The interface to use these devices and also to computer “jack” is sweet. Just press the “X” button on the controller and players can then navigate to a variety of places. In addition to using the rover or setting the gun up, access to email, mission objectives and previous interviews with suspects or people can be viewed. The whole thing is very “futuristically” presented and fits in well with the overall style of the game.
The co-op aspect really sets the game apart though. I liked the fact that anyone can lead the squad (just issue the orders “follow me”) or you can break away any or all of the members at anytime to do separate things during the game. For example, there is one point where Minoko has to jack into a computer and control a revolving access chamber. Amber then has to be used to make her way through the gaseous chamber and turn on the ventilation system. Andre then needs to be called in to fix a broken cipher lock before the team can progress further. The approach is all quite seamless and natural, but adds a nice change of pace and element to the gameplay. This can be further explored with a few friends and a multi-tap. Add three players and each person can control a member from the squad. This works out really great and adds a good deal of replay to the title.
Character control for the most part is pretty straightforward and simple. The left thumbstick control movement while the right one control the camera. Basically point the camera in the direction you want to move, press the left stick and viola. Characters can’t jump, but they can duck which is useful during gunfights and getting into smaller areas. The ability to switch between 1st and 3rd person viewpoints is a real plus as some things are easier to do in one viewpoint verses the other.
Combat can get pretty intense, especially when being attached from multiple angles. The computer will control the other three squad members, and they will certainly cover your back pretty well…but the bulk of the battle is normally on the leads shoulder (whomever you are controlling at the time). To make things a little easier, there is a target lock button that can be pressed or gamers can choose to spray bullets around without fear of hitting their team members (the weapons have a “smart” chip in them that prohibits the weapons from firing on a “friendly” or team member).
The first thing I noticed about Project Eden’s “looks” was the high amount of aliasing in the game. When viewing your surrounding, there is a great deal of “stair-stepping” on all of the background objects (beams, poles, structures, etc.). While this was quite distracting at first, I began to overlook this little annoyance as I was drawn into the gameplay and story.
The character models are well done and quite smooth. I was very impressed with the metallic surfaces of the armor, trim on the buildings and virtually any metallic object in the game. There seems to be a neat little programming trick being used that makes the metal glitter and swirl as you move your viewpoint back and forth. The “chroming” effect is realistic and adds a nice touch to the overall visuals.
Other than that, the backgrounds are an odd mixture. Some areas are rather sterile in their stark appearance while other places are sumptuously displayed with nice texture work and creative modeling. I definitely had no problem believing that I was in a futuristic world that was currently going through some rather hard times. The lighting and particle effects used in the game are well done for the most part and also play a part in portraying the environment that you traverse.
This certainly isn’t a showcase title for the PS2, but the graphics do a fine job in depicting an environment that may very well exist sometime in the future.
The music in PE is somewhat inane…on the rare occasions that it is playing. For the most part, Project Eden is more concerned with the various sound effects than a soaring musical score. The sound effects are certainly nice though. There are all kinds of background noises and chatter going on around the team at all times. Other environmental sounds include varied footstep noises depending on what is being walked over, machinery sounds, explosions, etc. Without these constant droning effects the game would be almost silent, but thankfully the way they are utilized gives the game a very realistic feel to it.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Project Eden' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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