Interstellar Marines is a science fiction FPS with quite the history. Currently in development by Zero Point Software, the game has been in development since 2005 under the working title Project IM. After being Greenlit in late 2012, a Kickstarter was launched to fund the rest of the game, but it unfortunately fell short of its target: $157,907/$600,000 was raised.
Since mid-2013 Interstellar Marines has been available in Early Access on Steam. That’s quite a run in Early Access! Let’s take a look.
The official website states that IM will take you through three massive campaigns, taking you through mankind’s first contact with a sentient alien species. The gameplay currently available in Early Access appears to be the pre-cursor to this storyline. You play as a soldier who has been specially selected to join the Interstellar Marines, and you play through training.
On starting the game for the first time you’re greeted with an epic introductory cut scene. It looks great and production value is through the roof. It got me really excited to get playing! This quality carries right through into the game models and environments. It’s a looks great, and even in early access I had only a few very minor graphical glitches. The same can’t be said for UI. It feels empty, and unfinished. Not a fan, and I hope it gets an upgrade before the game leaves early access.
My favourite thing about Interstellar Marines is how it feels. It’s solid and different than a lot of shooters. The closest thing it reminded me of was Battlefield. You feel more connected to the character, and movement feels real. It’s the little things like how your sight sways, and if you become out of breath they will sway more as you recover. Weapons give a lot of kickback, so you can’t just spray and prey. You have to pick your shots, and use your weapon wisely.
At the time of writing this article, the game supports keyboard and mouse only, so those that like to play their shooters with a controller are out of luck. I would however encourage those pad users to give the game a go with mouse and keyboard. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Up until this point Interstellar Marines has a good first impression. It looks pretty good, I like the controls, they feel solid, and the overall production is great minus some lacking UI. As we now come to take a look at gameplay however things ramp down a gear.
There are currently 2 campaign missions available, and both are training exercises that take place in quite small environments with equally small goals. Campaign 2 is longer than campaign 1, but they can both be completed in a short single sitting. There is also only a small collection of weapons available, and a single enemy. It’s all very sparse and demo-ey feeling, even for an early access title.
Alongside the 2 campaigns, and a tutorial level, there are a selection of scenarios such as survival and escape. These can be played in either singleplayer or online multiplyer, although I could only find a couple of multiplayer games live that were both for survival.
Gameplay itself is very unforgiving. The campaigns do not have any checkpoints, so if you die during the mission that’s it. It adds a real sense of fear, and make you feel very vulnerable which is great. It can be frustrating when a robot that you can’t see shoots you, and the mission re-starts, but I enjoyed the challenge. I was playing on normal, and it doesn’t take many bullets to kill you. There are also two difficulty levels available above normal, so I can only presume they are insta-death!
I was unsure whether to include this next section or not, but since it directly affects you as the consumer I decided to leave it in. The advertising of the game irks me greatly. I understand that when selling a product you want to make it seem amazing, you really have to sell it. But Interstellar Marines has lists upon lists of selling points that just shouldn’t be there. Here are a few from the list of current features:
- Shoot from hip or look through the Red Dot scope for increased accuracy.
- Full-body first person character simulation (no more floating hands!) with a physics-based dynamic character controller.
- Toggleable tactical flashlight for when it’s pitch black.
- Toggleable laser to assist your aim (no crosshairs).
These are all standard things that every FPS has. It’s like selling a car and going ‘Look. It has wheels and doors.’ Well, it’s a car, so obviously it has wheels and doors, what else does it do? This may seem pedantic, but this sensationalism is seen throughout the Steam page, the website, and all promotional material, and the game does not live up to how it’s sold. On the website you’re painted a picture that you’re about to receive an epic ‘AAA-Indie’ experience, but that’s just not the case. Not yet anyway.
What gameplay is there is solid, it’s just there isn’t a lot of it! I enjoyed my time with it, but have no reason to go back to it. If you’re a big fan of shooters you’ll find reasons to like Interstellar Marines. But given the development history, and its current state, I’m not sure I’d actively suggest it right now, but keep an eye out.
Tl:dr – Interstellar marines is a promising shooter with controls that feel great and make it stand out amongst other shooters, and an interesting sounding story line. Its main problem right now is lack of content, and according to plenty of Steam reviews updates just aren’t coming frequently enough. Fans of shooters will find reasons to like it, but for casuals I’d suggest waiting until further into development.
Rating – 7/10
Purchase – Steam (Early Access) (£10.99)