Black Element Software released their fantasy action game Shade: Wrath of Angels two years ago to a mostly lukewarm reception from gamers. However their second title might get them more attention. The title is called Alpha Prime and FiringSquad got a chance to play a brief piece of one of the gameís levels recently, and while it still needed some work, we found it to be pretty entertaining.
The sci-fi story takes place in the far future on an asteroid based called, naturally enough, Alpha Prime. Thereís some kind of conspiracy going on with your playable character Arnold that has something to do with the strange substance called hubbardium (word to my man L. Ron?
-ed.), but our brief demo didnít make the story very clear. All we do know is that our preview began with a long in-game engine cut scene where a colleague of the main character is seen talking about hubbardium and generally being a wimp. Once that was done it was off to the races as we explored a small portion of the asteroid base and fought off miners, special forces soldiers and robots that look a lot like those puny Trade Federation droids in the Star Wars prequel movies.
The preview level itself isnít all that innovative; you move from point A to point B and shoot everything thatís in the way, but we did find a number of things we liked about Alpha Prime immediately. One of those features is the gameís graphics engine which is pretty much on a par with Doom 3 and most recently Prey in terms of visuals. From impressive character and weapons models to detailed level textures to excellent visual effects, Alpha Prime definitely has some eye candy. We were especially impressed with the fire effects from the gameís flame thrower weapon (more on weapons later). Smoke effects are also well done; if you fire weapons in the levels you might generate some realistic looking smoke plumes that can actually obscure your field of visual.
Another impressive part of our preview demo was the enemy AI. Black Element Software clearly decided to go for a non-scripted approach to enemy actions in Alpha Prime. Our attackers used obstacles in the level to hide while firing at us and when we fired back some tried to run away while also firing back at the same time. Enemy forces even tried to move through closed doors to get to us. While there still were some glitches in enemy movements, overall the AI in the game exceeded our expectations and we think when the final game is released players will be saving and loading quite a lot as they get used to the more advanced behaviors of your opponents in the game.