Project: Snowblind manages to deliver a fast-paced experience that adds some unique twists to an overused formula.
Project: Snowblind was originally conceived as a multiplayer game based on the Deus Ex series. The game was created with the idea of using the same universe and fiction mixing it up with a totally new gameplay experience. Eventually, it became so unique that it was released with no Deus Ex name attached, even when there are many similarities between the titles. In fact, they both share the same futuristic setting and they have comparable heroes. If you buy this game don’t expect a reinvention of the genre or anything like that, what you can expect though, is a fun, fast-paced title that includes really interesting and refreshing mechanics.
Project: Snowblind’s story is set in Hong Kong in the year 2065, so most environments have a pretty distinctive Asian vibe and the different buildings and constructions either look really modern or really ancient. Additionally, the architecture featured in the game looks amazing as there is an incredible variety of places, like a couple of cities, an opera house, enemy bases and more. This aesthetic creates a unique sense of immersion that suits the game perfectly and can easily be compared to movies like Blade Runner. Also, the atmosphere is even more complex and it incorporates pretty distinctive visual effects, as the main character is capable of interacting with the environments and enemies.
It’s really surprising how the developers managed to create such an incredible level of detail in most of the levels. There are some repetitive parts though, and sometimes you may need to revisit certain places, but still the game has really good graphics. The different enemies have several animations when they either shoot or are shot, but even these are reused over and over after a while, but considering the level of quality of the game, the short loading times and the constant smooth frame rate, there’s simply no way somebody can complain about that.
As you move on shooting enemies you’ll see different cutscenes that tell the game’s story. Fortunately, these sequences are entertaining and engaging to watch. Also, you can chat with different people when you are wandering around labs or running through big complexes and this adds a little more realism to the world, mainly because the voice acting is great. The sound of the game doesn’t stand out, but it adds enough variety to at least be considered passable. Most sounds come from Nathan Frost, the main character and the one you control. He’s nano-augmented technology implemented into his brain, so not only he can use weapons but he can also use a complete list of innovative new skills and abilities. Usually, these emit some basic kind of electronic noises which are not really good or anything, but when they complement with the sound of explosions or gunfire they seem to integrate really accurately. Additionally, the music helps create a particular ambience of tension or the feeling that you don’t know what’ll happen next or what is around the corner. This is great for all the stealth missions that are part of the game as they mix with some Asiatic tunes blending in quite well.
Project: Snowblind has a pretty standard set of primary and secondary weapons you may use to defeat the enemies. Also, there are different kinds of grenades to alternate, which really come in handy against bigger enemies like bots. The level design is pretty straightforward and it encourages fast-paced combats and even if you are accompanied by some friends, you can beat the enemies yourself running and shooting recklessly. The AI of the enemies can be pretty challenging, they seek cover when they are about to die or they follow you around when they should. If you want more variety you can hack different turrets, control panels, big robots and machinery. To do so you shoot the devices with an “ice pick weapon” and then you push a button… and that is pretty much it. If you think about it the whole concept is ridiculous as you get complete control of these complex devices by just doing one little thing.
As I mention previously, there are different skills and abilities your character may use to combat the enemy. With the “Enhanced Vision” you can spot enemies even when they are behind walls, the “Reflex Boost” allows you to slow down time to dodge bullets or even change your decisions, “Ballistic Shielding” lets you cover with a very powerful shield, the “Cloak” can be used to stay invisible for a few seconds and finally an “Electrical Storm” can be activated to attack with a devastating electric attack that immediately paralyzes everyone in sight. To balance things out these abilities have an energy bar that depletes rapidly, so overusing these skills is out of the question. Using these is a blast, especially as you can combine them in some pretty innovative ways, though sometimes using them while you’re in the battlefield can be pretty frustrating and awkward. It’s a shame because the controls can be really slick and precise most of the time, even when there are so many weapons and vehicles to use.
Besides the big fights, the game includes some stealth missions, which can be pretty boring, dull and inconsistent considering the fast-pace nature of the game. The main alternative is to use the Cloak to be invisible for a short period of time avoiding enemies and running through the levels, this is great as the game doesn’t punish you if you make one little mistake or if you are spotted by the opposite force.
The single-player part of the game is really good, but unfortunately is quite short. You can pretty much finish the game in 10 hours, but the thing is that there are no additional modes, secret levels, challenges or even more difficulty settings, and considering that you can’t play the game multiplayer on the PS2 anymore you can be disappointed.
A lot has happened in the first-person shooter genre since Project: Snowblind came out. Dozens of superb modern shooters that incorporated new and innovative features were released (Halo2, ODST, Reach, Killzone 3, Bulletstorm, just to name a few), rendering this game almost obsolete. Still, if you want to experience something interesting and short on your PlayStation 2 Project: Snowblind is one of the easiest games to recommend.