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PAX Prime 2015: Bombshell Preview

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The attack was unexpected, catching everyone by surprise.  In a flash Washington D.C. was falling apart and the President herself fell victim to an alien invasion right on the White House lawn.  Despite heavy military involvement, this is a job reserved for Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, a former member of an elite bomb squad now turned mercenary with just a few unique attributes.  She has a prosthetic consciousness cybernetic arm named Amiga, which I’m pretty sure means it can act of its own volition if it wants.  In addition Shelly has a slew of weaponry at her disposal including special abilities involving her arm, a wide variety of guns, and of course bombs that you can roll like bowling balls with devastating effect.  Not only that, but a comprehensive skill tree system allows you to level up and enhance many of Shelly’s weapons and abilities, making for the clear RPG aspects so commonly pitched with this game.  Put it all together and this is one hell of an old school isometric shooter.

Bombshell_Image_8I continue to be impressed with how 3D Realms has mixed the old with the new as of late, clearly demonstrating that it not only doesn’t want to hide from the publisher’s strong past but rather embrace and bring it back in vogue.  The perspective is isometric, which works great with the ambush of enemies even the first 10 minutes of this game was ready to throw at me.  Scale seems to be the focus as the perspective can migrate from Shelly being a larger portion of the screen real estate at one moment but can scale back to being far from the central focus when massive boss characters approach.  Customization is also a clear focus as the game allows you to level and equip as you see fit, branching into different potential pathways and allowing for all sorts of combinations for the mayhem you cause.  Aesthetically this game seems to fuse two of my favorite genres, science fiction and cyberpunk, but does it in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a careless grab at hybrid pop culture.  There are cybernetic enhancements and even an introduced nemesis dead set on enhanced organisms through machinery, but from what I could tell it’s just a natural part of the future and not a bold attempt to grasp the worlds of William Gibson.  Aliens are here too, holding up the sci-fi end of the bargain, but it makes for a nice collection of grunts and fodder in addition to the aforementioned large scale boss battles.

Bombshell_Image_11When you put it all together, my main thought is one word: potential.  While talking to the developers (that interview can be found here) I got to hear about the different worlds, scenarios, and options you will be able to grasp with Shelly but with a proposed 18+ hour campaign and tons of replay value it’s hard to see all that in a 10 minute demo.  What I saw was spot on to that proposal and a sizzle reel that followed seemed to back up the claims with actual gameplay, but until the game comes out later this year it’s just a great sign of things to come.  After all, this is the team responsible for the impressive 2013 Rise of the Triad, which was a remake of sorts that improved on a classic so much I went from despising the franchise to a fan.  With that pedigree on board there’s no reason to believe that developer Interceptor and 3D Realms may be onto something with this new franchise.  I was a bit turned off by the PC controls (keyboard/mouse) so when I heard this title will also release to consoles with controller support I have to admit to a sigh of relief.  Bombshell could be a new genre that has previously been dominated by loot-driven dungeon crawlers, so I’m eager to see the results when the game releases.

 
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