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Terra Nova (DOS)

Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri DOS
Genre: Action, Strategy
Perspective: 1st-person
Pacing: Real-time
Setting: Sci-fi / futuristic
Published by: Looking Glass Technologies
Developed by: Looking Glass Technologies
Released: 1996
Platform: DOS

In the mid-1990s, various side branches began to appear in the development of the 3D shooter format. This, apparently, was due to the fact that the presentation of the protagonist solely in the form of an anthropomorphic “pumped up” and “tough” guy became very annoying to the public. Something new had to be invented. And so, instead of running "light" - in shirts, jeans or military uniforms, the developers from Looking Glass in the game Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri invited gamers to try on a heavy combat suit and look at the world through the "prism" of glass and display high-tech suit. It should be noted that a similar original move was already implemented (perhaps for the first time in 3D shooters) in 1995 in the little-known game Wrath of Earth, developed by a very small Addix Software Development team, but apparently this should be considered a mere accident, since the development of Terra Nova started long before that, back in 1992. In fact, this format of 3D shooters can be classified differently as a human simulator in a combat suit (suit), but not a combat robot simulator, since this is a completely different direction of the game genre.

The plot of the game is based on the confrontation between a distant colony and greedy earthly rulers. Gradually, people first mastered the Moon, then the satellites of Jupiter, and then, in the 23rd century, it came to the closest Alpha Centauri to us. The Earth government during this time finally became corrupt, now it was called the Earth Hegemony. This is the main enemy of the colonies around Alpha Centauri. The new colonists, of course, quickly wanted independence, especially since the far space distances suggested such sentiments, but the Hegemony was categorically opposed, which is quite typical for any despotism. In general, the Hegemony poisons the existence of the colonies in every possible way, generously funding corrupt and unscrupulous pirates - your main opponents in the game.

What is the Strike Force Centauri unit? This is pure elite, special forces, a storm of pirates - cool space marines. Their base and place of service are located on a spaceship. The format of delivery to the surface of the planet is partially "borrowed" from the movie "Aliens", even the descent module is very similar. This is done as follows: the main ship flies in orbit around the planet, the module separates from it and falls sharply down into the atmosphere, then a paratrooper in a suit beautifully jumps down from the surface (Go, go, go ...). A jetpack mounted in a combat suit prevents it from crashing upon landing. After completing a combat mission, the same descent module picks up fighters and flies to a military base located on the surface of the planet. A combat suit is a mandatory part of the armament, since you have to complete tasks on different planets and in different conditions. The appearance of the suit is a bit awkward and awkward, even heavy diving equipment looks much less restrictive, but don't be fooled by this appearance of a fighter. The suit gives him strength, mobility, security, and most importantly - a periodic exit to the third dimension. With the activation of the jetpack, you briefly rise into the sky to a decent height, and then smoothly descend. This allows you to jump, look around and get away from the chase. Lapsus: for some reason, in such a combat suit, you can easily move on any water surface. Yes, it will be very difficult for developers of the game's graphics engine to explain such absurdity.

Who are you? You are a calm and pleasant boy - Nicola AP Io (Io is such a satellite of Jupiter). Born there in a family of colonists, in the best traditions of Hollywood patterns, he lost his parents early in childhood (naturally, the Hegemony was guilty of their death). Arrived as a newcomer to the Strike Force Centauri special squad of space marines. The video shows how the tipsy “old man” (they arrived literally a day earlier) in the best traditions of the American film genre immediately begins to check and mock the “newcomer”, even Nikola was immediately forced to do push-ups. Soon a senior officer came in and put things in order. In general, you were noticed and, according to your abilities, they immediately made you a squad leader. Now this "old man" is under your control. Not a bad turn of events from the very beginning of the game. In missions, you can work alone, but more often the group consists of two or three fighters. Each member of the group has their own specialization: combat suit repairman, demolition worker, electronics engineer, and so on. So, we have in 1996 a classic command-and-tactical 3D shooter.

And who is in the elite squad? The team of fighters is still the same. In the best traditions of American political correctness, it is represented by both men and women - almost in equal proportions. Of course, there are definitely African Americans, there are also representatives of Hispanic "national minorities", there are Italians, Asians and others. One of the attractive representatives of the beautiful half of the team (Maggie is an American of the European type), judging by the videos, quickly became “interested” in Nikola, however, she herself is a little worried because of her age, because she is still almost exactly 200 years old. In general, life in the detachment seethes with the energy inherent in such an American film genre, which is constantly shown in the game's cutscenes, and there is a separate story about them ...

Videos. Yes, there are games in which it is better not to play without video inserts, because there will not be the atmosphere that was originally intended. Terra Nova harmoniously uses FMV clips, 3D computer animation clips, as well as combined videos with the same real people, but animated space fighters fly in the background and futuristic buildings stand in the background. It must be said that the FMV-rollers involve real stage workers, and not amateur programmers who were filmed for reasons of cost savings. Of course, not the "Anthony Hopkins" and "Jodie Fosters" were invited to the shooting, but quite capable young and not very actors. It should be noted the good elaboration of 3D models of costumes and other objects in computer graphics clips. Interestingly, the missions themselves do not take much time, and inter-mission video cutscenes often last much longer. You should definitely watch and listen to these videos, even if they are in English.

In the game gamers expect about 40 different missions. These will be reconnaissance, target designation, "search and destroy", save another fighter and other types. Missions take place on three different planets with different natural conditions on them. In addition to the landscape, weather phenomena are simulated: rain, lightning, and so on. At the beginning of the game there is a pleasant training level where in a couple of minutes you can learn all the basics of controlling a suit and using weapons.

Combat suits come in different types: standard, reconnaissance, heavy, and others. In the process of passing between briefings, you are informed about the constantly incoming new weapons and additional special equipment, which are called A.S.F. For example, the game has the ability to launch a reconnaissance drone or place a stationary mini-gun, indicating to it who to shoot methodically. Perfectly implemented infrared vision, which again refers us to the almost complete analogy with the game Wrath of Earth. It is very easy to control the suit - in fact, you will not notice any problems with movement, shooting and switching modes. Hits can create cracks in the face helmet glass of your suit, as well as other defective "artifacts". However, there is only one important parameter, which requires an eye and an eye in battle. This is the state of your suit's force shield from four different directions (front, back, left and right) - green indicator on the screen on the right. As soon as the shield is broken, the player immediately dies. How painful his death is is clearly shown each time in one short thematic video. It's just that if your shield is already "in the holes", then you need to step aside and wait a while until the force field is completely restored.

Tactics in the game is simply amazing with its level of detail. Group members can be given various commands, sorted by topic and purpose. The sources claim a serious level of teammate AI simulation, which is actually true, since I can at least give extremely positive reviews about the actions of teammates in battle.

The graphics are simple and for those years (1996) already looks a bit old. The fighters and opponents are represented, though detailed (in terms of animation, but not graphical resolution), but still sprites. Landscape objects (trees, stones) are also represented by sprite objects. Tanks and aircraft are honestly three-dimensional. There are two types of screen resolution: 320x200 and 320x400. However, such a low resolution simply goes unnoticed due to the extremely dynamic gameplay. The indication of your suit is very conveniently displayed. The mouse is widely used both for switching between various items in the menu on the indication screen, and for capturing a target with subsequent firing. It is even possible to include tooltips to inform the player about the purpose of a particular display element.

The musical theme in the gameplay is very dynamic and, one might say, even cheerful and "funny", which, without a doubt, adds a degree to the gameplay. Sound effects and speech are very high quality. Ambient sounds (rain, thunder) are adequate to the current situation.

However, this game, unfortunately, still suffered a commercial failure. The project did not pay for itself. There are several reasons for this. In 1996, Quake appeared, and any project, even a perfectly conceived one, but with 320x200 graphics and sprites, was actually doomed to definitely not take first place in the ratings - at best, and at worst - go unnoticed and forgotten overnight. But personally, I really liked the idea, the dynamics of its gameplay, the music and the plot.