E3 2012: Exclusive Preview: No Man's Land
Free to play games have been thriving on the PC and mobile devices for quite a while now, but they’ve never quite gotten a foothold in the console market. Sony, along with developer VEEMEE, is looking to change that with their new Playstation Home based shooter No Man’s Land.
No Man’s Land is a multiplayer only, third person cover based shooter set in a post-apocalyptic urban landscape. While that may sound like 90% of all shooters released nowadays, there is a wrinkle that makes this one stand out from the rest: You don’t have full control of your character. All the movement is strictly cover to cover.
How this works is that when you want to move, you push the left stick in a direction, and points of light will appear, indicating where cover points you can move to are. Then just highlight one of them and press the X button, and your character begins to run in that direction until he reaches his destination. While this may sound limiting, it’s actually a fairly interesting way to deal with some of the problems inherent to the genre. Not having to work about how to get from point a to point b and just focusing on putting yourself in the right position to take out your enemies could be an intriguing spin on a familiar concept if handled correctly.
I had a chance to get a little hands-on time at E3 as well as speak with Sony community manager Paul Sullivan, which you can see below.
Right off the bat I thought the controls felt a little awkward. Moving the left stick and it not resulting in my character moving an inch felt a little jarring at first, but after a few minutes I was starting to get the hang of it. Even after getting a little more accustomed to the controls, I was having problems getting to the cover I was intending to end up at, however. Sometimes I’d point to a piece of cover I wanted to get behind and it would jump to the other side of the cover I was already behind or take me to a piece of cover other than the one I intended. As a whole the movement felt a little awkward and clunky.
Then, of course, there’s the shooting, which feels pretty much how you’d expect. Hit the left shoulder to aim and the right shoulder to shoot, fairly standard stuff. It seemed to take an abnormally large amount of rounds to take someone down, though. Even when I had an enemy totally flanked and shooting them directly in the face, it seemed to take an entire magazine before they finally bit the dust. That may have just been a byproduct of me only having access to the standard pistol. Also, you can’t fire, or reload, while on the move. That led to some awkward moments where an enemy and I would both break from cover simultaneously and run past each other without any hostility whatsoever. It just felt kind of strange.
While it may not have set my world on fire, No Man’s Land seems like an interesting little experiment. Having a fairly full featured shooter not only being housed in Playstation Home but also being free to play is an exciting look at what may be possible on the service in the future. And hey, at least the price is right.
They didn’t have a solid release date to announce, but I was told they hope to have it out by the end of June.
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