by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Two names? The game must be schizo
Origin of the Species is a long-awaited and much delayed third-person shooter (or action-adventure, if you are feeling generous) from Tri Synergy, a publisher known for such past titles as Port Royale and Battle for Britain II. Developer Nu Generation Games is a newcomer to the gaming scene and hope to see their first game hit the shelves at the start of 2006. Origin of the Species or D.1.r.T, as it will be known in Western Europe (Since only the first name is something I can grasp and write easily enough, I'll stick with using Origin of the Species in this article), uses Nu Generation's own GenTek engine that is touted to be the most advanced piece of AI sotware in existence.
Darwin, Evolution and copycats
The storyline of Origin of the Species is based on the Theory of Evolution from Charles Darwin. He discovered that all the presently living species have developed over long, long time periods, through a process of best adaptability to environmental changes and conditions. Theory is all well and good but for the military, things weren't moving fast enough. They decided that evolution is way too slow for their purposes. Thus, they developed a new viral weapon, Project G.I.Ants, designed to create new battlefield weaponry by mutating common insects and parasites. This absolutely wonderful and certainly reasonable project sadly went horribly wrong. A small desert community and some innocent city tourists are the first to suffer.
One of the tourists to suffer is a teenage "urban rock chick" with pig-tails who likes to wear low-lying pants and very visible g-strings alongside a bear backpack. She and her friends were innocently hiking the countryside when everything went awry and the next thing Dirt (the teenager) knows is waking up in a prison cell... It is her task to try and remember what it was that actually happened to her and her friends and try to save the world, while avoiding and battling against government task force and various genetically manipulated insects. What she soon finds out, though, is that the insects are not the only ones affected by the viral agent...
Despite the stupendous background story, Origin of the Species is basically a third-person shooter where the player controls Dirt as she battles through hordes of mutated insects and military shock troopers. She does all this while trying to save civilian lives and stop the dangerous viral agent in the process.
Despite claims of RPG qualities, they seem to be relatively down-played. They include a selection between four profiles during character creation, and the choices to develop her weapon accuracy, stealth and aggressiveness during gameplay. Additionally Dirt's skills are developed and changed by the viral agent spreading in her body. The RPG feature also offers the player a choice on how to complete the different levels while rewarding "style points" for the choices made during the game. In the end, however, the game should play as a standard shooter with lots and lots of different weapons and fighting moves that can be used against armies of insects.