It hasn't even been a month since Ubisoft released the amazing Far Cry 3 for consoles and PC, and yet in just about a few weeks' time, we'll be getting ANOTHER first-person shooter from the company. But where Far Cry focused on creating shenanigans on a tropical island, Shootmania Storm concentrates more on the thrilling basics that make a first-person shooter click. If you're an avid fan of competitive PC efforts, you're going to love this.
Upon showing us a hands-on demo of the game, a rep from Nadeo, the producers behind Shootmania and the various Trackmania games and expansions, explained some of the basics that are going into the shooter. There are numerous maps available for play, each with their own specific rules and perks, such as booster ramps and defensive points where you automatically use sniper rifles and other specialty weapons. However, players can build their own maps, using a variety of tools, which can then be shared with other members of the Shootmania community. The developer then showed how simple it was putting the engine together, making a custom-build gate in a matter of seconds.
But obviously, Shootmania Storm is built to take advantage of the action, and there's a lot of it. Obviously the game comes with an assortment of guns, whether it's your standard charge rifle (which you carry as your main gun) or the secondary weapons you can access in certain zones, but you also have special abilities that serve quite the purpose in the game, helping you get around a lot easier.
For instance, you can get up close to a wall and rebound alongside it, giving you some much-needed height if you need to get out of a "I'm surrounded" situation, or letting you reach a higher level if two walls are close enough together. You can also use a virtual grappling hook, which enables you to grab onto certain points of the map so you can swing like Tarzan, letting go at any time to descend back down to Earth.
These new abilities will help the maneuverability of your character, because when the cyber-bullets start flying, anything goes. Shootmania Storm is built with a competitive edge in mind, as it was definitely a favorite a couple of weekends ago at the professional gamer event IPL5 in Las Vegas. Shooters of all skill levels, including Ubisoft's own Frag Dolls, ascended to their PC terminals to see what the game had to offer – and it's a lot.
We managed to get some hands-on time with the game, not only fighting against members of Nadeo's development team, but also a few professional gamers who were on hand for the event. Ubisoft was kind enough to recreate a competitive event atmosphere, complete with whooping fans and hot dogs. (Granted, they're not in the final game, we're just saying what lengths they went to in order to show us the nature of the beast.) There was only one selectable map at the time, an open-ended castle-like grid with booster pads, grappling hook points and plenty of room to run.
The goal of this map was to survive a certain number of rounds with members of your team, but there's a catch. In the center of the map is a shield generator which, when touched, activates a closing mechanism with an electrical field that surrounds the map. It closes in with each second of its movement, eliminating anything it touches, including players. It eventually stops at a very close circle in the map, where the last remaining soldiers battle it out to see who wins the round. Other round types will be available within the game as well, but don't be surprised if this one really turns out to be a favorite. (We sure enjoyed it.)
Though the graphics are hardly on the same level as, say, Far Cry 3, Shootmania Storm still looks terrific running on a higher-end PC, with fleeting graphics that move along at a rapid pace and great detail in each of the maps. The ability to create your own is a nice touch, though we didn't get a chance to take a closer look at the building tools for this go-around. But not to worry – you'll have your chance soon enough, as Ubisoft is about to put the game into open beta, just in time for its January 2013 release.
Shootmania harkens back to the old-school style of the shooter – the Duke Nukem/Quake class, if you will. And though its mechanics aren't always as fast-paced as other games (as mentioned, you have to charge your gun for shots), its competitive heart keeps beating in the right place. We'll have some tips on how to get into the upcoming beta – and, for that matter, survive – in the weeks ahead. Meantime, head on over to http://www.shootmania.com to learn more about this exquisite new shooter. 2013 definitely just got more interesting…