Review by Alfred Giovetti
Release: September 25, 1996
Genre: Mech real-time first person perspective warfare simulator
Designer: BioWare Corporation in connjunction with Pyrotec Game Studios Ltd.
Developer: Pyrotec Game Studios
Producer: Feargus Urquhart
requirements: IBM CD, PC 486-66 CPU or faster, 8 MB RAM (16 recommended for 16-bit sound) w/560kb free base memory, approximately 20MB hard drive space, double-speed CD-ROM, SVGA graphics, joystick supported.
History: In the beginning FASA created mechs, 20 to 100 ton robots bristling with weapons to battle out the wars within a group of planets surrounding earth called the Inner Sphere. Then Sierra created Hercs, 20 to 100 ton robots bristling with weapons to battle between the machines and man over an insignificant planet called Earth. Now Interplay creates Planet Runners, also 20 to 100 ton robots. It must be fun because by now people normally get bored, so lets see what all the fuss is about.
Founded in 1983, Interplay Productions is a company dedicated to manufacturing and distributing a wide range of award-winning entertainment and educational software designed by gamers, for gamers. Interplay releases products through Interplay, MacPlay, VR Sports and Shiny Entertainment and its affiliated labels for personal computers as well as leading console game platforms. In addition, the company's OEM division represents a wide variety of publishers software to the OEM community for hardware bundling. More comprehensive information on Interplay and its products is available through the company's worldwide web site at http://www.interplay.com.
Plot: It's rock-em-sock-em-robot time again. This time the year is 2132 and we are in the deep space colonization and exploration phase of our development as a species. Out there beyond tomorrow, well maybe not that far, exist a race for the resources needed to support life, between a well trained and equipped group of anarchists, hereafter known as pirates, and those devoted to law and conformity.
Needless to say these two groups decide to settle their difficulties in a civilized manner. They both obtain 25 to 100 ton robots and attempt to beat the opposition into submission. Into the middle of this peaceful combat which pits brother against brother, an alien intelligence is discovered, who has as his goal the total eradication of the human species. The plot begins to become familiar, but we always will head the call to save the universe, as a mercenary this time, especially if it promises to have a lot of blowing things up for us to pursue.
Missions: Interplay will provide 70 non-linear missions, animated plots with cut scenes in the campaign game, 30 state-of-the-art weapons, 50 intelligent alien enemies, including some we have never seen before, such as assault helicopters. These are composed of 50 single player missions and the others are specifically for multiplayer.
Modes: The game will play in campaign and fast action modes.
Views: In addition to the effective, popular, and exciting first person perspective, the game can be viewed in a suicidal third person view.
Graphics: All this will occur in incredibly realistic voxel graphics with explosive redbook original soundtracks and sound effects. Graphics will create a fully texture mapped world on the fly which should look as good or better than the competition. The 3D Voxel space engine was created by Bioware. The pixels do not break up or "pixelate" as you get close. Similar to game produced by NovaLogic, who claim that voxel graphics are the only kind that work when you are below 100 feet in altitude.
The Terraform Engine can take a height map in .PCX format and build a 3D terrain from it in real-time, including local shading and lighting features with more detail and smoother contours while maintaining greater close-up viewing quality than any other soon-to-be-released Voxel engine (i.e. unlike the Nova Voxel terrain's). As a result, the terrain becomes a key part of Shattered Steel, as the player is in complete control of maneuvering through, over and across the terrain for strategic advantage. This allows the player to actually climb slopes and gain speed by running down hills, thereby out-maneuvering enemies. Until now, the terrain in "Big Bot Games" was not a key feature in gameplay
Music score: Explosive original soundtrack.
Multi-player: Multi-player action is also supported. Shattered steel will play over null and phone modem and a 16-player network with head-to-head and cooperative play. The playability will be extended with a scenario builder that will fully customize game scenarios.
In addition, Shattered Steel is also a Top Five download on the hot gamers' web site, Happy Puppy, which receives 65,000 visitors daily. With the game mirrored on over 20 major sites across the Internet, it is no surprise that between five and ten thousand demos are being downloaded every day from the Internet. "Gamers are e-mailing me on the game's realism," noted Interplay webmaster Robert Berzins. "The fluid, realistic animation and incredible control they have over the terrain just isn't available on other titles."
Jeff Green, Computer Gaming World, number 145, August, 1996
Chris Hudak, http://www.gamespot.com/previews/shatter/index.html
Shane Mooney, PC Games, volume 3, number 9, September, 1996, pg. 40.
Glenn Broderick, Computer Player, volume 3, number 7, December, 1996, pg. 71, (70%).