Hello all! Last week’s game was one I eagerly awaited—uh, until it actually released, honestly. Then it wasn’t so hot. But it’s still kinda fun in a B-movie way, I guess.
This week brings us another in a series of games I bought randomly and ended up surprised.
Project Snowblind is a first-person-shooter for the PS2. It was developed by Crystal Dynamics and was originally conceived as a multiplayer Deus Ex, before spinning off into its own thing. Taking place in Hong Kong in 2065, you play as Nathan Frost, a soldier who, after getting injured, is augmented with cyber technology (this should sound quite familiar to Deus Ex fans). Frost uses his new abilities to stop a rogue Chinese general from detonating EMP bombs around the world (the titular Project: Snowblind).
It’s important to note that Snowblind isn’t quite Deus Ex, despite the game’s origins. There’s nothing in the way of exploration and dialogue trees/choices; the game is geared exclusively towards combat. That being said, the game shows its roots here by giving you options in regards to how you tackle each encounter. While the game is mostly linear, taking a moment to look around will usually reveal an alternate path you can take through a given level—usually a vent shaft, for example. Stealth is a viable option here, and it’s nice that stealth and going loud are two equally valid choices. An awful lot of games try to include both of these sensibilities and generally fail at one of them; Hitman: Blood Money is a good example of generally not letting you blast your way through (why would you want to in Hitman, I know).
Snowblind sets itself apart further through augmentations (hello again, Deus Ex, we see you) and a diverse array of weapons. The game is quite a rush to play; it moves at a breakneck speed, and there’s always something happening. To be honest, this is somewhat at the expense of storytelling, but think of it as a loud action flick: there’s enough story to justify what you’re doing while staying out of the way. The point is, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play.
I bought this game at a Target in Pennsylvania, along with Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (that’s why I remember it). I bought it because it was $20 and I thought the name sounded cool. It reminded me of Snow Crash. I’m pretty happy I got it for a low price; it wasn’t that old when I picked it up, and I felt like I’d gotten away with something, because Snowblind definitely felt like a full-price experience, if that makes any sort of sense to you. I mean, I didn’t really know anything about the game at the time; I thought it was a bargain-bin item, and as I’ve said in the past, sometimes you find good stuff in there.
So yeah, Snowblind was essentailly a random purchase for me, albeit one I really enjoyed. The world and aesthetics in the game is a cyberpunk mixture of Deus Ex and Blade Runner, two great tastes that taste great together. There’s not a whole lot in the way of plot; it’s a basic setup, but it’s executed well and, like I said earlier, stays more or less out of the way. The game is a perfect fit for those who like Deus Ex but don’t feel like dealing with the dialogue and sneaking and whatnot. I mean, I love that stuff, but I’m not always in the mood for it.
I’m pretty amazed at how this eleven year old game holds up today. It was pretty graphically impressive for its time, but it’s not gonna turn heads these days. Still, the controls are tight and snappy, barring just a little PS2-era jankiness here and there. It probably holds up a bit better on PC, where it currently retails on Steam for a cool $6. I don’t know anything about the PC version, though.
It was pretty fun revisiting this somewhat obscure gem; it’s not the greatest game of all time or anything (it’s too short, occasional janky/floaty controls), but it’s a riot. Check it out if you have the means.
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Next week brings us another PS2 shooter, more obscure than this one, with a story written by comics great Warren Ellis.