previews\ Jun 20, 2000 at 8:00 pm

Shattered Galaxy - PC - Preview

An alien artifact was discovered some decades before, in the 1960's called Fata Morgana. Russell, a bristly-furred lab rat, was the first and only living subject to be placed in the Fata Morgana. As with his inanimate predecessors, Russell was transported millions of light years from Earth to one of the aliens' planets, later called Morgana IV. But Russell was not alone in his journey; Earth had been transported with him. Everything within a 2000 kilometer radius of the Fata Morgana (soil, trees, squirrels, ocean, and cities alike) were ripped from its home in the Milky Way, re-materializing on Morgana IV. 

Over 70% of the human population perished in the cataclysm. Russell was never found. Morgana IV was habitable to humans, but barely, and much of the wildlife from Earth was unable to survive the transition. The humans gathered into survivalist camps, struggling to resist the dangers of their new home. Society degenerated rapidly into a primitive, brigand-like culture. 

Past the borders of the 2000-kilometer radius of Earth lay Morgana IV and its alien technologies and cities. The humans found the alien planet void of animal life save what they had brought with them from Earth. Small factions eventually developed and claimed portions of the planet, and its technology, for their own. Resources were scarce and conflicts over land and materials became common. The initial difficulties of surviving on the alien world had taken a heavy toll on the populations of the humans. 

But while humans were few, alien war machines were plentiful. Research into the alien technologies became of paramount importance. The war machines apparently contained limited intelligence, but efforts to program them were unsuccessful. A telepathic drug, Commune, was developed to allow humans to psychically link with the machines and command them to battle. A period of warfare ensued as rival factions fought each other with their new weapons. Gradually more powerful alien items were discovered and the technologies warped for military uses. Combat focused on resource deposits needed to build more powerful machines of war. 

It was at this time that the aliens appeared. Whether they were the original inhabitants of Morgana IV or not was unclear. They erupted from subterranean caverns and attacked the humans en masse with claws, teeth, electrical and acidic missile attacks. The humans turned their attention to these new, more savage foes. Combating the aliens, however, continued to deplete their limited resources. While one might have expected the common foe to unite humanity, greed and corruption undermined any alliances formed. 

OK. Now that I have your attention with the basic story line taken from the manual, let us get on with the preview.

Shattered Galaxy is a promising new beta that will soon hit the store shelves in the upcoming months. It is an RTS/RPG genre that is only played online. Here is the best part…. It's free! Yes, that’s right, play online with no monthly fee! It is in closed beta testing right now; but as I understand it, they are still looking for testers. So sit back, check out this preview, and if it sounds like something you may want to participate in, apply at their web site. Or, if a retail copy is more appealing, wait for the real deal. Either way I believe this new game will keep gamers up for hours trying to build experience and climbing the levels to become the best heroes they can be. I could be quite winded on this preview, but I will attempt to keep the readers interested. The true experience will be from the game itself, not some in-depth preview of technical terms the average reader would have no clue of what the heck I’m talking about.

So, of course, I encourage checking out the web site if I haven’t quite hit all areas I’m about to touch base on.

You first start off creating your hero. Pretty much a no-brainer here. You pick your name and faction, along with your appearance. After that you will have to adjust your beginning stats. Tactics aids in how many units a hero can control and the understanding of combat situations. Education allows your hero to install better weapons, sensors, equipment, etc on your units. Clout, Higher clout = more advanced units and chassis that will be available to you. Mechanical Aptitude is your hero’s ability to install new toys on your units. You can even jury-rig your units with parts that normally would not fit if your MA were low. The default setting is 10 for each one. I would start off with the default till you get a better grasp of what you want to pursue in your hero’s life. As you would expect, if you raise one statistic, another will decrease, so choose wisely!

There are a few different factions to choose from. Each faction has their own way of thinking and goals in mind. Some factions are allied with others. It is possible that the faction in the beta is full of heroes so you may want to pick another that is allied with that faction. The main map is color coordinated so you can see who controls what...very important for your attack and conquer strategy.

There are 4 combat unit types and varieties of each. You have Infantry, which are the cheapest but easiest to kill. Mobile units are a bit stronger and move faster and pack more of a punch (Tanks, hover crafts etc., you get the idea). Aviation units rock. Quick and mobile, packing a wallop but fairly easy to kill. The key to winning battles is capturing the Points of Contention (POC) which these cannot accomplish without ground control. More on that later. Last but not least is Specialist. These units are medics, artillery, sensors, and transport ships.

During combat the object is to either capture or defend the POC and obtain XP, valuable resources, and lands for their faction. The POC’s are the basic objective of the battleground. The attacker needs to stand on these ound objectives which are divided in slices like a pie. The longer one of the attacking units stands on the POC without dying, the more slices light up. Once all the POC’s are captured, the attacking faction wins. On the other hand, if you are defending, you have to keep the attacking side from gaining all the POC’s in that land for 15 minutes. If you can do that, you win and the land and all the resources remain yours. The newbies should start out fighting aliens to get a basic feel for the game. Check out the zoo, which is a good place to gather your first XPs before you try and take on another faction. Once you get the basic concept of battle, move on to what the game is really about...CONQUER THE WEAK!

All joking aside, this game provides stimulating RTS with the level climbing of an RPG. Fighting other online layers where your victories and losses really matter is just plain SWEET! Nexon has done a wonderful job of compiling both of these genres into what appears to be a future successful release.

The Nitty Gritty
The graphics are nicely done as far as an RPG is concerned. This is a beta so I would guess that the retail version might offer a few more details that the beta might lack. I would like to see, or should I say hear, some better sound though. The effects are okay, but there is not much more than that. On the flip side though, no music is better than annoying music when you are just be-bopping around looking for a fight. Nice concept! I’m a big fan of online play, and Nexon has done a nice job of combing RTS with RPG on a multiplayer level. The newbie tutorial just plain rocks. You can get a good grasp on what’s going on just from the tutorial. It even gives basic recommendations on what you should be trying to achieve. Couple that with an easy-to-read manual and you have a nice learning curve for what would be a normally complicated game. One thing though, the higher in levels you get, the more options will be available for you. That’s what makes this game so cool. The longer you play, the more knowledge you gain.

To make a long story short, your hero gains levels and so do you! This is a beta, so there are lots of changes going on; but at the time of this preview, installation was quite easy and all the attributes are nicely done. Because the beta is so easy to navigate through and a speedy shot to drop off notes about problems to the developers during online play, I believe that the retail version will be quite bug free. I hope to see this game capturing market share in what is to be a very competitive market. Thumbs up Nexon!

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