reviews\ Nov 5, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Project Eden - PC - Review

The Earth, burgeoning under the strain of increased population, has grown in diameter. The physical size of the surface is the same, but man, to accommodate the vast numbers of people has continued to build upward.

Those who live on the surface are content, beautiful people who have adapted to this new way of life. But miles below, down in the shadowed recesses of the decrepit buildings that serve as the foundation for the upper world, life is very much different. Mutated forms, maniacal felons, the very dregs of society ensconced in a madness born of life in the darkness thrives and waits for its day of vengeance.

Project Eden, from Eidos Interactive for the PC, is an unusual mixture of puzzles, mindless shooting and mystery. Mindless shooting? Yep, this is not strategic battle, such as that presented in Half-Life or Unreal – though some of the monsters on the lower levels of this game could have existed in either of those games. The battle portions are often showdowns, where you simply fire until the opposing force falls. If your character is killed, no problem, you take over another team member, then after the battle find a regeneration point and have the dead party member rejoin the group.

Ok, let’s backtrack just a bit. While this game is primarily a single-player game, gamers will have to take control of a party of four, each a specialized member of the Urban Protection Agency – the police force. There has been trouble at the Real Meat Factory with machines acting up. (The name of the factory immediately draws up flashbacks to the Charlton Heston film, “Soylent Green” and any moment you expect someone to yell “it’s people!”) The maintenance crew sent to find and fix the problem has disappeared. It’s up to Carter, the team leader, Amber, Andre and Minoko to find out what happened. As they enter the Real Meat Factory, a bridge that would have provided easy access to the levels below, blows up. The team must split into two groups, figure out how to gain egress to the lower levels, reunite, explore and uncover the sinister plot and eradicate the menace.

Each level gets progressively harder as you move downward, not only in terms of action, but with the puzzles. Therein lies the key to the time it will take to complete this game. There are 11 levels in all, and the game boards for each level seem huge.

The control elements are fairly straightforward. This game can be reconfigured for a joystick, but the mouse-keyboard combination works very nicely. Some hot keys are stock to games in this genre, and those that may be a bit different, don’t take long to figure out.

Visually, this game is quite nice. The environmental graphics are very well done, as are the special effects. The torch (a.k.a. flashlight) is one of the first effects you will run into, and it is rendered very realistically. The sound of the game is also well done. Some of the effects are rather stock, but the sound track pulsates. The voice acting could have been better. It sometimes seems a little too understated.

While Project Eden does supply its share of shooter action, the game fits into the genre of action/adventure. As a shooter it is lacking, as an adventure it has intrigue and numerous challenges.

This game does support multiplayer gaming, but it is more or less limited to the deathmatch scenario common to a lot of games who merely want to advertise multiplayer capabilities without providing real substance and sustained gameplay.

This program is rated Teen for blood, gore and violence

Install: Easy
This program can take up to 600 megs of hard-drive space, but goes on quickly.

Gameplay: 7.5
You will have to check the version of the game you have, and if less than v1.01, then you need to patch the game in order to correct a minor save bug. Aside from that, this game has a relatively nice flow to it. Yes, there are a lot of puzzles that need to be worked through, and that can take time. But you had better be on your toes when you start moving down through the levels.

Graphics: 8
The environments are well rendered, and the action sequences are a lot of fun.

Sound: 7.5
The musical score is quite nice, and the game has an array of effects that will have a surround system rumbling. The vocal characterizations could have been better.

Difficulty: 8.5
This game is a solid mental exercise. The fact that dying doesn’t have much of an impact of your game (because of the regeneration of the deceased), allows gamers to continue in the game without having to regroup, rethink or restart. If there is a drawback, it lies in the fact that the game is very linear in design. Figure it out once, and replay value is out the window.

Concept: 7
The storyline isn’t a brain-tickler, but the adventure elements do a very nice job of supporting the concept, and moving the game along.

Multiplayer: 7
This game is supported by the GameSpy network, but the program – in its mission mode – is really a one-person game while the multiplayer options also include the typical deathmatch scenario.

Overall: 7.8
This game could have used better (or any) squad-based tactics, but the actual adventure of the game is not diminished because of this aspect. The game sports well-done graphics and sound, and will appeal to fans that want to exercise their minds within the confines of the action/adventure format.


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