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The Firing Line: Firefall, Defiance, John Romero, and more

Jef Reahard

Dude, there was a ton of big shooter news this week!

I mean, this isn't terribly unusual, particularly since the genre is expanding at a rapid rate, but when I've got to cut interesting items out of this column for length reasons, you know it's been an eventful few days.

Join me after the break for a recap on everything from Firefall to Defiance to John Romero and beyond.

Romero MMO?
And yeah, it's that John Romero. If your shooter history is a little rusty, here's a hint: This particular chap co-founded id Software, designed its seminal Quake and Doom titles, and even coined the term deathmatch.

All things considered, he's a pretty big name in our little genre, and when he tells Eurogamer that he's making an "MMO-ish" PC shooter as his next project, the prudent thing to do is take note. Romero's currently heading up a social gaming firm, so he hasn't officially started work on the new title. That said, the design is in the books, but Romero isn't giving up much in the way of details.

"You will be playing the game as you would expect a shooter to feel, but the specifics of your situation, narrative wrapper, and reward system are all unique. I wouldn't want to give out any specifics until I'm close to shipping it. I've learned my lesson about talking too soon about specific game features and release dates," he said.

What exactly Romero means by "MMO-ish" is anyone's guess. He could mean classes, levels, and various persistent world elements, or he could mean what most devs mean when they say "MMO": a recurring revenue business model married to single-player mechanics. Let's hope it's the former.

Counter Strike Online 2
While we're on the subject of old-school shooter revivals, a press release this past week spilled the beans on Valve's upcoming collaboration with Nexon. The two companies are renewing the development relationship that led to 2007's Counter-Strike Online, a bona-fide phenomenon that once topped the 500,000 concurrent user plateau in the Chinese market.

Counter-Strike Online 2, then, is the logical next step. The release claims "enhanced graphics, more realistic gameplay, and powerful impact sensations powered by an enhanced version of the Source engine."

CSO2 also looks to feature various new game modes, environments, weapons, and gear customization, though the release was light on specifics. For now, the title is aimed at the Asian market, but I'm still excited to see the latest and greatest Source-powered shenanigans.

Firefall at PAX
Red 5 Studios lifted the non-disclosure agreement for players in its not-really-a-beta-test last Friday. Firefall was featured at last weekend's PAX East convention, and our own Matt Daniel liked what he saw of the game at that event and earlier.

Red 5 also released the game's opening cinematic (shown above). While Firefall's backstory is of debatable interest to its target audience, it nonetheless looks to be pretty interesting. In a nutshell, the three-minute clip shows the final moments of a spaceship known as the Arclight. The resulting tragedy is compounded by the fact that the vessel's commanding officer must choose the fate of several million Brazilian civilians, which ultimately ties into the game's starting location.

Finally, the company has uploaded its PAX video blogs to YouTube, so head over there for three clips that give you a glimpse of Firefall's PAX booth presence and its crazy-detailed cosplay outfits.

Defiance at PAX
Not to be outdone on the MMO shooter front was Trion and its new Defiance title. The game has been shrouded in mystery up to this point, but PAX brought us the long-awaited first look at the sci-fi title's gameplay. While reception for the trailer was somewhat mixed in the fan community, it says here that Defiance is well worth waiting for. For one thing, it's another MMOFPS (and despite plenty of industry-wide PR fudging, we all know that there are very few actual MMOFPS titles out there).

Plus, this is Trion. Regardless of what you think about RIFT, the firm is flush with cash, developer talent, and a proven track record for deploying (and continuously supporting) a big AAA MMO. There are few companies I'd rather have entering the wide-open MMOFPS market.

Though the Defiance trailer was short, it did show off dozens of players duking it out with some Starship Trooper-esque crab things. There was also an ever-so-brief glimpse of player vehicles in action. I'm still pretty meh about the tie-in television show at this point, but if Trion can make good on the "thousands of players" claim in the trailer, I'll be a happy camper. At the very least, it looks like PlanetSide 2 and DUST 514 may get some healthy AAA competition.

The trailer wasn't the only Defiance reveal this past week. Our pals at Joystiq got their hands on some nifty screenshots that show off the aforementioned crabs as well as some slick environments and high-tech paramilitary gear. Check out all the goods in Joystiq's PAX Defiance gallery.

More DUST 514
Last but not least is yet another video from CCP's recent Fanfest event. Yeah, it was a couple of weeks ago now, but various gaming websites continue to trickle out exclusive interviews and information in the never-rending quest for page hits. The latest such is a video interview with CCP CTO Halldor Fannar. Fannar has a few interesting nuggets to share as well as some insight into the skepticism with which EVE Online veterans view DUST 514.

"Our players kept coming back and saying don't dumb EVE down [...] so we realized, let's not change that formula. We've found success there," Fannar explains. "But, let's look at all the people who have tried EVE but didn't find a home in it. They like the setting, the idea of the sci-fi universe and what's happening there [...] but they want gameplay that they're more familiar with, and that's where the idea for DUST was really born."

If it's DUST gameplay footage you're looking for, we've got it courtesy of fansite The site has uploaded a 12-minute video that shows off the finals of the PvP competition held at this year's fanfest. It's definitely worth a look to see some of CCP's shooter gameplay up close and in person.

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.

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