Five Upcoming Shooters Under The Radar

2011 is promising to be a huge year for games, and one genre still getting plenty of love is the shooter. Killzone 3, Crysis 2, Bulletstorm and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are just a few examples. But what about the shooters just outside the spotlight? Here are five exciting looking shooters sliding by under the radar, in no particular order.

On first look, you may get a slight feeling of deja vu from Homefront’s storyline. An Eastern power launches an invasion on US soil, which is halted by a small resistance using guerilla style tactics. Add Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen in there, and you’ve got Red Dawn. The similarity is striking. Take into account the fact that both Red Dawn and Homefront were written by John Milius, and you wonder if the man’s a one trick pony. Despite Red Dawn being one of those so-bad-they’re-good movies, with an outrageous story and right-wing ultra-patriotic undertones, Milius also co-wrote Apocalypse Now, one of the greatest movies ever made about anything. And look a little deeper into Homefront’s mythos, and you have a a logical fictional future, a background carefully constructed with the help of CIA consultants to retain a genuine element of possibility.

The year is 2027. North Korea have slowly gained power over the years forming the Greater Korean Republic incorporating many Asian countries, while the US has slowly crumbled into economic decline. If ever there was a game representing the fears and paranoia of our times. But enough about the background. You want to know about the gameplay. The game is a FPS, and will focus on Half-life 2 style guerilla warfare. While the single-player experience looks solid, multiplayer looks even better. Focusing on large scale vehicular combat (much like Kaos Studios previous Frontlines: Fuel of War), the game will feature a points-earning system to unlock new weapons and vehicles during the match. In a new twist, an AI will keep teams up to date on which players are the most successful, meaning you may become something of a target. Expect Homefront to be very popular online.

The game releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on March 8th, 2011.

Brink’s gameplay is built around two ideas: Seasteading and moving. Seasteading is an unusual term combining “Sea” and “Homesteading” – the idea of building homes, or even towns or cities, literally on the sea. Brink’s storyline is set on “The Ark,” a floating city on a futuristic flooded Earth, built to house 5000 residents, with renewable resources and no pollution. The perfect city. Thanks to the rest of the planet flooding, however, the city is full of refugees, so much so that resources are stretched thin and the city is on the brink of a civil war. Yet another story for our times, covering climate change, immigration and economic problems all in one.

The second foundation of Brink is movement. Thanks to games like Call of Duty, the focus of FPS’ is squarely on shooting. You can move to redeploy, and to run between shootouts, but otherwise you might just as well have the computer move for you. Mirror’s Edge tried to change this by introducing parkour, fairly successfully, though the brevity of the game prevented much in the way of success. Developer Splash Damage has developed a system call SMART (Smart Movement Across Random Terrain), that allows the player to navigate complex terrain smoothly. The system looks great, and it brings with it a wealth of options for making the most of multiple levels of maps, and should make for some thrilling multiplayer chases.

Brink is due to release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in Spring 2011.

Nuclear Dawn
Nuclear Dawn, by InterWave Studios, and built on Source, is promising nothing less than the perfect integration of first-person shooting and real-time strategy. One player takes the role of commander, and is in charge of base building, turret placing and technology researching. Commanders can also assign players into squads, and then give them objectives. The other players take on classes of their own, and engage in combat in the post-apocalyptic setting. There are two factions to choose from, the Empire and the Consortium, meaning there will be different weapons, technologies and play styles for each.

The multiplayer mayhem promises to focus on, and reward, tactical teamplay rather than reflexes like other shooters. Cover will be available, and will have to be made use of to survive. Nuclear Dawn is promising, though scepticism is understandable given the huge differences between FPS and RTS gameplay. If it works, though, it’ll be a winner.

Nuclear Dawn will be out on Xbox 360 and PC in Q1 2011.

Space Marine
The Warhammer 40,000 universe is well and truly under the spotlight this year, with no less than three games based on the Games Workshop designed background. RTS expansion Dawn of War 2 – Retribution is due in March, MMO Warhammer 40,000 Online is due later this year, while action shooter Space Marine fills the pure adrenaline gap in the 40K lineup.

The story will follow a small group of Ultramarines, genetically modified warrior monks, equipped with all manner of machine guns, swords, chainswords, hammers, plasma guns and plenty more besides, as they deal with an Ork invasion on a factory planet, or Forge World. The 40K universe is dense with lore, and virtually impenetrable for anyone without a huge amount of research time, but the story sounds simple, so should be accessible for newbies. Not a huge amount of information has been released for Space Marine, except that it’ll be a bit like Gears of War but without the cover system (cover is for pansies). Your squad will also be fully customisable as you progress through the game, which should please those a love a bit of loot.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in Summer 2011.

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 began life as a WWII mod for Unreal Tournament 2004, but its success led its creators to found their own studio,Tripwire, and release a full game. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad will be the direct follow up to that game, focusing largely on the Battle of Stalingrad, and the forces involved. Consequently, Red Orchestra 2 will be the first FPS ever to offer a single-player campaign from the German point of view.

The game is being built on Unreal Engine 3 foundations, so it’s not forgetting its roots as a UT2K4 mod. Hopefully the game will have it’s own visual style, and not just look like another Unreal game. New features include a first-person based cover system, morale and leadership gameplay aspects, as well as a focus on realism and a squad command system. Though it looks like the WWII shooter is dead, Red Orchestra 2 will offer an interesting alternative to Call of Duty and its clones.

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad will be released on PC in Q1 2011.