PAX East 2011: Fallen Frontier Hands-On

In: Articles by Leah "WhiteGodiva" Haydu

13 Mar 2011

I’m a sucker for Metroidvania-style games — even though I hate that name for them — so I was immediately excited to try developer Moonshot Studios’ side-scrolling cooperative shooter, Fallen Frontier.

Moonshot is primarily composed of ex-Bungie employees, so even though this is a completely different style of game than, say, Halo, no one can say these guys don’t know their way around guns.  And it shows.

Fallen Frontier has a distinctly Shadow Complex–like vibe, but it’s very focused on its co-op. This proved to be a great feature for me, because even though I’m not always the best at shooters, I got pulled through some of the more hectic situations by my partner — sometimes literally.

Along with your basic firearms (you can carry two, and swap them out for others along the way — sound familiar?), you also have a multipurpose grappling gun, which allows you to swing over gaps, pull enemies to you so that they can be blown away by close-range weapons or melee attacks, and even pull your partner up from lower levels if they’re having trouble keeping up. You can also throw grenades, which is particularly handy when facing groups.

Of course, even with a great partner, you run the risk of being separated occasionally. Rather than attempt to stop this from happening by forcing players to remain on the same screen, the developers implemented a split-screen system that automatically activates when you move far enough away from your partner. The effect is a little jarring at short-range, but seems to be a fairly elegant solution regardless; you get a seamless merge when you move back together and are thus allowed to take different paths to the same place.

It’s something that proves to be a strong feature of the game, and something that will likely contribute to the replayability of the title.

As you might expect with a game of this type, your map is crucial to your success. Your objectives are clearly marked on it, and if you’re like me, it really helps to be able to refer back and make sure you’re not getting lost. Although I used the Metroidvania label before, there’s a big difference here, however: Backtracking won’t be completely absent, but will mostly be limited to when the story dictates that it is appropriate. Moonshot is intentionally trying to stay away from you having to haul yourself across the map multiple times “just because you had to find a missile upgrade.” I’m pretty happy about that, personally.

Fallen Frontier is still in a very early build, so we ran into a couple of glitches along the way, but nothing too serious. Pre-release changes will likely center more on decisions that still haven’t been finalized, such as how gun limitations will work. Right now, there’s no ammo to be collected, but guns can overheat, some more rapidly than others, and if they reach a critical point, they’ll be unusable until they have some time to cool down.

The game already looks great, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll continue to develop the comic-book-style presentation they’ve set in motion with the split-screens and the speech bubbles that currently showcase their dialogue.

Fallen Frontier does not yet have a publisher, but they’re hoping to release on XBLA and PSN in 2012.

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2 Responses to PAX East 2011: Fallen Frontier Hands-On

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Scuigi

March 15th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

You had me at “Shadow Complex-like”.

Was there any word on online co-op, or will it just be local?

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What a PAX! » Moonshot Games - Mission Control

March 29th, 2011 at 11:54 am

[...] GameHounds: PAX East 2011: Fallen Frontier Hands-On [...]

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