Summary: Ever nearer to release, we received a peek at Red Lemon's action/adventure game based on the popular Farscape show on the Sci-Fi channel. Take control of Crichton, Chiana, Rygel, and the rest of the wacky crew of the Moya as they battle their way through strange alien worlds and against the evil Peacekeepers.
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Interactive
Estimated Release: May 2002
It’s not about Muppets
Earlier this week, we got a peek at Simon and Schuster’s Farscape game, based on the television show of the same name that has become a sleeper hit on the Sci-Fi channel. The television show is produced by the Jim Henson Company, who help bring to life the vibrant alien creatures found in the show. For those unfamiliar with the television series, the story revolves around seven “people” trapped on a biological ship (the people are of varying species) called the Moya. Each of these people are outcasts of society and are being pursued by the Peacekeepers, who serve as one of the primary “badguys” in the show. The human amongst the motley group is John Crichton, an astronaut from Earth who ended up in this alternate universe after being shot through a wormhole.
The game’s story involves a Peacekeeper attack on the ship Moya – all but two of the ship’s seven crew escape the Moya and crash land on a strange planet. The objective is to get the escape pod fixed, fly back up to the Moya, wrest control of her away from the Peacekeepers and get out of Dodge.
Over the course of this action/adventure, you’ll be able to play as any of six of the show’s seven main characters (the 7th is the alien pilot of the Moya who is attached to the ship itself) – Crichton, the human; Chiana the rogue; Aeryn, the outcast Peacekeeper; D’Argo, the warrior; Rygel, the wannabe royalty; or Zhaan, a high priestess. The gameplay style and point of view is an overhead ¾ view, similar to Diablo, except you’ll be able to control up to three of the crewmembers at once, in a squad based fashion.
Graphics and Sound
Farscape is a fully 3D game – unlike Diablo, where the viewpoint is fixed, the player is allowed to zoom the screen in and out, and rotate around the center axis as he wishes. Character and creature models are in full 3D as well, and they animate fluidly as they move about the screen. The lighting is among the best we’ve seen in a game of this type, particularly in the underground forest level – shadows cast beautifully from the characters and from overhead lighting sources. It was hard to judge the sound and effects, because a lot of aspects are still placeholder at this point, but Simon and Schuster assured us that we can look forward to a lot of voice dialog from the real actors in the television show.
As we mentioned earlier, the simplest way to describe Farscape would be to compare it to a squad-based Diablo. You use the mouse to click and attack – however, the developers made a point of separating the move and attack commands onto different mouse buttons. Since most of the weapons will be ranged rifle and pistol types, this makes it much easier to shoot and run at the same time without having to close in on your enemy. Run backwards while firing, or crosswise from the path of your opponents, or even circle strafe to a degree. It’s possible with Farscape.
The different characters you can control will each have different skills and specialties. Crichton specializes in technical aspects. You’ll need him to use computers or consoles that you find throughout the game. He’s also proficient at combat. Chiana, the rogue, is much craftier, and excels at stealth and thievery. This can come in handy in the town when you’re short on cash and need to resort to the ol’ five-finger discount. Rygel – the wannabe royalty – is a coward and won’t participate in combat at all. But, as in the show, he floats around on a throne-like chair, so he can be used to navigate tunnels and ducts that the other characters can’t reach. He also has good negotiation skills, so using him to buy goods in the town is of utmost importance. Utilizing each character’s special abilities will be central to the gameplay and solving the puzzles in Farscape.
Weapons and enemies
There are three different classes of weapon in the game, those that do damage based on physical, chemical, and energy ammunition. The different player characters and enemies will have varying resistances and weaknesses to the three kinds of weapons. This variation adds a certain amount of strategy in terms of which weapons you want to be carrying. It’s also notable that each of the weapons in Farscape will have a secondary fire mode, a feature popularized in the first person shooter genre. Many of the same alien species you saw in the show will be in the Farscape game, as well as 16 brand new races and 40 new critter types. Again, the creative freedom allowed to the Red Lemon team enables them to give more variety in the monsters you’ll face.
Summing it up
For fans of Farscape, and the action-RPG genre, there’s a lot to look forward to. Simon and Schuster predict a May release (before E3), and have hinted at multiplayer gameplay modes, but could offer no details at this time. Enjoy the screenshots for now. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one!
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