By: Jay Krieger
Most gamers have and idea of what will be showcased at conventions, but this year small indie developer, Unknown Worlds Entertainment, shocked gamers by the innovation they had implemented into their latest game, “Natural Selection 2”. By integrating the concept of a first-person shooter with a real time strategy game they have created a daunting premise. But after playing the game at this year’s Pax East, a consumer convention for gamers and technology enthusiasts, and speaking with the games artistic director Cory Strader, my hesitation was put to rest.
Fortunately for gamers, “Natural Selection 2” takes this unique concept and delivers a frantic yet strategic PC multi-player shooter. “Natural Selection 2” is the sequel to “Natural Selection”, which is a modification for “Half-Life 1”.
Strader went into great detail about the mechanics and game play of “Natural Selection 2”. “It’s a hybrid game of a first-person shooter mixed with a real time strategy game, so there are two teams and one side are Marines and the other side are aliens. Both sides have a commander, and the commander gets a top-down view of the map and they build structures, research new items, drop ammo, medic packs, and issue objectives. Here is a fully fleshed out real time strategy game play for the commanders as they see events occurring in real time,” he said.
The commanders have a top-down view of the action unfolding on screen and the rest of the players play from a first-person perspective. The Marines have the typical view of health and ammo head up display, while the aliens have a view of either their bite attacks or claw attacks. Both teams’ commanders give players orders and instruct them on the end goal of destroying the other team’s base and the structures they have assembled. By building generators and other structures the team gains resources that can be spent on upgrades for weapons for Marines or mutating into new life forms for the aliens.
Strader elaborated on what gamers will be able to research and mutate into, which are currently available in the beta version. “On the alien side you can evolve into different life forms, as you start out as a basic alien known as a Skulk and it has fairly standard abilities, like run on walls, use its teeth as weapons and mutate into different types of aliens. Some mutations grant players the ability to fly around and shoot spikes, one alien can teleport and one is a giant alien that can smash doors and throw marines around.”
Strader divulged some updates to the marines arsenal that weren’t available to gamers at PAX, though they will be made available shortly. “Marines will have access to a higher level of research such as enabling jet packs and mechanical suits equipped with dual mini guns,” he said.
While the game is still in beta, quite frankly it looks gorgeous, plays well, and the game Spark Engine was built from scratch for the sequel. “Being an indie company and coming from that mod background we wanted to work with the community during the whole development,” said Strader. “Natural Selection 2” should be commended for integrating RTS elements into their FPS game. “Natural Selection 2” is set for official release this October.