by Marcus Mulkins
previewed on PC
Give me that Ol' Time Religion!
You've probably seen this game before. Well, maybe not this game, but others that have storylines and action so similar that you may get a feeling of deja vu. Games like Freelancer and Dark Star One (which are themselves practically a case of one cloning the other). Once again you'll get to be an up-and-coming hotshot pilot, fresh off the farm, uh, make that "fresh from the Academy". Once again, despite being a rube to your universe, you'll be placed in the cockpit of a very hot spacecraft. And once again, you'll sally forth into that cruel universe to make your fortune - at the same time as you rack up an impressive tally of dogfighting kills.
There are, of course, some details that may separate this one from the masses.
Based on a book series by...
Tomorrow War is based on a series of books written by Alexander Zorich (actually a non de plume of the Ukrainian writing team of Yana Botsman and Dmitry Gordevsky). In fact, Alexander Zorich will be writing most of the scenarios and nearly all of the dialogue. The Alexander Zorich books are incredibly popular in the former Soviet Union (and elsewhere). The "Tomorrow War" series ("The Tomorrow War", "With No Mercy", and "Moscow Time", appearing between 2003 and 2006) essentially comprise a "space opera". [Expect to see it on the SciFi Channel some day.] Because of the enormous interest in that series, 1C Corporation (as publisher) and Crioland (as developer) naturally looked into the possibility of creating a game based on the trilogy. 1C Corporation has been enthused enough about the project as to develop an entirely new game engine. The game has already released in Russia, with a follow-up entitled, The Tomorrow War: Factor K. So if the game does well when the English language translation hits your local store, expect to see the expansion set shortly thereafter.
Send in the clones
It's the 27th century and Earth is at peace (notice how quickly the fiction starts?). Mankind has learned how to travel light-years in a reasonable time frame. (Don't ask how; you don't need to know _how_ in order to play the game. Whatever the method is, it just simply is.) So, wherever you go, humans have already been there.
Enter the Bad Guys, the dudes from Konkordia. Three hundred years ago, the whole frickin' planet converted to Zoroastrianism (check it out in a Wiki). However, the Konkordians decided that they wanted to be more like Islamic fundamentalists: convert or die. Recognizing that there is safety in numbers - especially if your goal is to convert the entire Universe - they went on a major cloning program. Since their start, they've conquered 30 planets, and are pushing for more. Currently there is a shaky peace treaty in effect between Konkordia and the United Earth Empire, but everybody knows that's just a political ploy to allow Konkordia to build up for the next big push.
Enter the hero
You will be following around a cadet of the Northern Military Aerospace Academy named Andrew Rumyancev. You'll start with routine training flights and in fairly quick order, you will graduate to actual combat operations. You'll get a chance to mess with fighters, assault craft, torpedo bombers, and fluggers (combat shuttles hauling commandos and armor units). You'll visit skylabs above desolate planets in the Tremezian Belt, and you'll interact with corporations and military outfits as well as space nomads known as "Jips" (Count your fingers afterward! And check inventory on anything that wasn't nailed down). Somewhere along the way you'll meet with the Diterhazi & Rodriguez Corporation, which will bestow upon you the secret fighter prototype, labeled "Durendalle". (Starting to sound familiar yet?)
Besides those evil Konkordia clones, there are a substantial number of paramilitary groups and well-armed interstellar corporations. This will of course offer the opportunity to work on your rep and your bank account when you're not sparring with Public Enemy #1.
Unlike the aforementioned similar games, the player will be able to interact with fully animated NPCs when on board vessels or planetary surfaces. Your perspective will alternate between first-person in the cockpit, or third-person over-the-shoulder shots (depending on circumstances) and third-person when the character interacts with other characters face-to-face. Furthermore, the craft in this game are entirely capable of dogfighting in deep space or deep within a planetary atmosphere. That means you'll get to see debris dribble to the ground when you shoot enemy craft out of the Unfriendly Skies..
I'm sure there's a punchline at the end of the game, but we'll just have to wait for the game to appear sometime before the end of June (if 1C Corporation keeps to their stated timetable) to find out what it is.