As a long-time first person shooter fan I saw great potential in the idea of shooting in space with no gravity in spacious and elegant environments such as abandoned space stations and shattered asteroids. I welcomed the very vertical game-play in Shattered Horizon and the lack of gravitational pull which both added a great deal of freedom to the title once mastered. Certain aspects of the game really had me intent on enjoying Shattered Horizon and I feel it was a great endeavor at bringing unique design choices to gamers of the FPS genre, however I soon ran into a few unforgivable issues that left me a little more than disappointed with the end result.
It isn’t all bad with Shattered Horizon but it certainly isn’t all good either. For starters, the maps all feel very similar and often leave the impression that repetitive environments were considered “good enough” by the developers without any really identifying features standing out between them from match to match. That being said, the maps are all pretty disappointing in their own ways leaving the player having expected more than they are actually going to get from this title from the jump. A few corridors, plenty of asteroid surfaces, and a lot of space junk gets old and tired very quickly as it seems to be the only thing to be discovered while playing Shattered Horizon. While this might have been forgivable due to the game’s multi-player only nature, the bland design of the maps makes the freedom of movement feel like a clunky annoyance half of the time and unrealized potential the other half.
I find myself struggling to find redeeming qualities to an online multi-player only experience that only an extremely small player-base still partakes in, but here is one of them. If looks could kill, everyone who used to play Shattered Horizon is probably dead. The game looks fantastic (especially the non-inhabited background scenes which are sadly more interesting than the actual levels you will be playing on). Another redeeming quality for this game would be its sense of ‘co-opetition’. Players can participate in various team-based objective game modes that have players defending bases, capturing bases, and blasting each other (of course). There is a sense of wanting to out-perform your buddies while securing the win for the team and this occurs through the use of some interesting tech such as EMP grenades.
The way that Shattered Horizon‘s once teeming community of PC shooter enthusiasts has abandoned this title and left its online servers barren is actually pretty sad. If I were to recommend this game it would have to come with one of those “no one really plays it anymore though” warnings that have come into play with the genre, but that’s not why I won’t be recommending it to anyone. The aiming system in this game takes a few nods from blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty. The only problem with that is you are inevitably going to compare the two systems of aiming to one another, to which S.H. feels like a poor man’s aiming system. Though admittedly effective, it just feels like an unsatisfying experience to aim your head-shots through the game’s various sights.
The controls in this game allow you to attach yourself to a surface simulating gravity, which allows for better aim, but this takes some getting used to and seems to point out the silliness of trying to compete while floating through space perpetually, aiming, and maneuvering your character all at the same time. The level-up system in this game is pretty standard stuff and seems to reward you very quickly with your first bunch of level-ups. Achievements can be had but unless you are one of those “trophy whores” there really is no added incentive here to getting these. The rewards for leveling seem pretty typical, which reminds me that most of this game’s features are comprised of already-done-before concepts that seem to plague most FPS games this generation. It would have been nice if some sort of story was injected more clearly into this multi-player only title, albeit uncommon for a multi-player only title.
Overall, there are only so many times a gamer can shoot random folks online assuming almost hollow identities while floating in generic maps to gather kills and points while only half in control of themselves. When a game is multi-player only and the online action doesn’t hold up it’s hard to see the point in pushing forward. Good visuals, original approaches to controls (although difficult to master), and the space-bound environments set this game apart from other shooters. Unfortunately many of its features feel like a simple copy and paste of what is already out there. The sheer lack of content brings a tear to my eye given the potential I feel Shattered Horizon has as a concept. I wanted to like it, I was even hoping to love it, but other than a cult following who may sometimes make the game enjoyable for a short moment or two this title has been left in the dust, and I see why. Boring would be the best way to sum up Shattered Horizon in one word, here’s to hoping Shattered Horizon 2 dramatically improves this if it ever comes to be.