Not too long ago, we put together a preview of Operation: Matriarchy, the upcoming sci-fi shooter from MADia. Well, in the same care package that Buka sent us, we also found this pretty little number, Hellforces. In progress by Russian developer, Orion Games, Hellforces is an upcoming horror first person shooter where you play the main hero, Stephen Geist, in search of his missing friend. Unbeknownst to you, leading biophysicist Henry Alfred Cole has unwittingly released hell on Earth by extracting souls from human bodies, creating a horde of zombies free to eat brains and such. The fate of your missing friend unknown, you begin your search as you are forced to cleanse the Earth from the heresy and minions of the demon Baphomet and soon, Lucifer himself.
The story behind Hellforces is nothing special, think Resident Evil or Dawn of the Dead or any other zombie movie and you'll have the premise for this game. But that doesn't really matter when you take into consideration how much fun this game is. Given, I am a sucker for zombie games, but Orion has put a lot of effort into the gameplay of Hellforces and this, a pre-alpha build of the game, is a great testament to that.
Characters are beautifully designed: each with about 60 bones and an average of 5000 to 7000 polygons per characters. Ragdoll physics and bump mapping have been implemented on the, at the moment, 45 different characters and zombies throughout the game. As with any zombie shooter, the AI for the undead is non-too-spectacular as there isn't much intelligence in zombies anyways. However, even in this pre-alpha build of the game, some zombies did try to "dodge" incoming fire and other satanic followers encountered later in the Peruvian jungle did try to use their environment to their advantage.
Speaking of environments, there were only three levels present in the build that we received, city slums, a ruined hospital of some nature, and [for some reason] the Peruvian jungle. There are plans, however, for military-esq camps, Peruvian pyramids and ruins, and naturally, Hell. In some levels, like the jungle, there are over 500,000 polygons in hard geometry, which allows for highly detailed and realistic maps from their very own home-grown engine, built inhouse.
In case you're worrying about weaponry, don't; there's lots of it here. 24 weapon types are slated to be included in Hellforces, ranging from the obligatory metal pipe and other blunt objects, to .44 magnums, to fully automatic machine guns, ghetto crossbows, grenades, futuristic pulse weapons, and even voodoo staffs. Yeah, you'll have plenty of choices for killing the undead. Be careful where you are shooting though, you can take off a limb (even a head) and some zombies will still keep coming at you. And depending on the surface you shoot, stray bullets can actually ricochet off and injure you, so relax that trigger finger .
Any connoisseur of horror shooters knows that audio and ingame sound play as much of a key role in setting the atmosphere as do the levels and monsters themselves. Again, even in this pre-alpha build of the game, Orion has implemented some great positional audio thanks to EAX and a great set of Logitech speakers on my end, heh.
Hellforces is shaping up to be quite the horror shooter. The early build that we received already fully supported DirectX 9, and pixel and vertex shaders 2.0; with over 45 monsters, 24 weapons, and a slew of levels, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the eye candy and great gameplay.