by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Battle and weapons
Dirt has over ten offensive and defensive moves that she can choose from and can be used individually or as combos. Even better, she can mix firearm usage with jumps, dodges and kicks. The firearms range from pistols to submachine guns and, more futuristically, from rail guns to graviton beams. In addition, the viral agent in Dirt's body handily gives her new abilities in the PSI line (like telekinetics) rather than turn her into a car-wrecking giant abomination like the rest of its victims. Furthermore, this same viral agent seems also to have mutated Dirt's bear backpack into something half-alive and sentient, or emotive, as the developers call it. The bear, however, does not seem to act as a weapon or offer any special kind of help to the player. So right now we can only guess at its function.
Graphics and sounds
Although Nu Generation Games claim that the delays in the release of Origin of the Species are due to government agents trying to shut them up, it seems that the real reason is that the graphics and gameplay still needed a lot of work. The intro movie (available online) offers animation that is up-to-par with the rest of similar titles on the market today, but the graphics in-game reminded me more of some early 90s titles, except for their slightly better animation and speed. It yet remains to be seen, whether this extra time (about a six month delay) has given the artists enough time to improve on their earlier design. However way you look at it though, it's better to delay a game and using the time to brush it up, than to rush it out unfinished.
Origin of the Species promises RPG qualities, but, like in many similar games, this "character development" seems to merely suggest that Dirt becomes better and better fighter as the game progresses, so that she can face the more and more dangerous opponents in the later levels. If it's well done, it could mean we will see a more vibrant game than most of its competitors, but it remains to be seen whether they can achieve this.
The AI engine however, could make all the difference. Nu Generation describes it with words like 'self-learning' and 'self-optimising'. We've heard phrases like these before but since all such promises ultimately failed, they're not in use anymore. Seeing them pop up now is intriguing by itself and this alone is reason enough to keep following this games' development.
Set to be released in February and talk of a demo closer to the release date, it has us looking forward to seeing how this particular species will evolve.