Interstellar Marines is a game I've anticipated, forgot, then, to my great joy, rediscovered last year on Steam. Unfortunately, it's only in early access stages. Though some, like me, consider this a very good thing seeing all the troubles ZPS has faced, and to see them finally getting traction and going through the motions to get their dream out alone is an inspirational tale.
Note that the following is subject to change and modification as updates roll out and as I improve what I have to say, and that before you make any decisions you should go see some gameplay videos of the current version.
My nostalgia and feelings aside, the current stage (Steam Update 9)that Interstellar Marines is at is still rather barebones, with no crouch, a single weapon, and infinite reserve ammunition. However, even at this stage, IM is fun. The effort and care put into the game, and at such an early stage, show much promise and potential, and although many complain that over, what, ten years, there should be much more progress, ZPS has had difficulties and real world problems, and have very few developers working on it. Inexperienced, too!
But one could mistake their work for that of a veteran developer’s. Triple-A indie indeed!
The reason for it being fun, is, I would say, the immersion and feel that Zero Point Software strives so far to accomplish, along with the good gunplay and the dynamic environments. When on a map and the lights go out, there are two main thoughts that conflict in my mind. Do I turn on my flashlight and take the risk of being spotted? Or do I just wait for a sound, something that gives me something to shoot?
You don't see this with a game such as Battlefield 3-4, or Call of Duty (Although those are completed and full games), and if you do, it's usually in the campaign.
In the still very early access multiplayer, with tension like this existing to compliment the still very early but good gunplay, the future is bright.
With the addition of team markers, distinctive team colors, and the new domination mode along with maps since the first updates, IM just keeps getting better. Your suit damage, and you've taken a few hits? Your HUD gets knocked out, and more things that add to the immersion. That said, it’s not perfect yet, but it’s still an early alpha!
To sum this up, you can’t crouch yet, and you only have one gun, and matches can degrade to shooting at eachother (Though to be honest, this is what every FPS pretty much is, shoot at the other person). However, the game pulls you in and can make things intense through the map alone, and the Domination gamemode keeps the pace up and forces people to move around, keeping the action alive.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit challenging to be tactical like ZPS says they want without a teamchat for the people without microphones, and even more so without a crouch. That said, I’d love to disregard that until they add those and I have a chance to see how it works in Multiplayer.
As for how it runs and looks, the former is rather iffy and the latter is amazing. However, one can’t judge this so early considering that they haven’t done that many optimizations yet, and it’s very distant from a full, final release, so that may take a while. But the views are spectacular, and the graphics actually play an important part in gameplay, due to the dynamic lighting system and the fog and storm effects.
As for the relatively small online community, with the exception of teamkillers, those I’ve seen are mature, with the exception of a few nonbelievers (Though there are some who are respectable).
As for the major story and all that, we’ll just have to wait for the future, and the Carcharodons/landsharks of doom. Glorious landsharks! However, I can sum up what the story relates to in the game at the moment (Update 9).
Lore-wise, the multiplayer of Interstellar Marines takes place in Area 51, or ITO Dreamland, where the players are candidates for the Interstellar Marines Special Forces program.
I find this interesting and I love how the devs try to connect the MP to the story, and I also love the little touches with the guns making sparks, as if they use stun rounds.
As for ZPS, you guys are dedicated, and the stuff you’re doing to connect with the community is great. Can’t wait for the future!
tl;dr, Even though it’s barebones, the fact that it’s better than some new FPS games right now = One of the best modern games for PC on the horizon, perhaps!
Now, for buying it, I'd personally recommend it to support the devs (I know they need it, for the love of the game!) and purchase it, but if you're not that into early access or 'barebones' gameplay, then you may want to wait a bit. The price will go up, though, over time. If you're lucky you can snag a copy during a livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/zeropointsoftware
or a spare to give to a friend.
NOTE, before you make any decisions, you should go see some gameplay videos of the current version, see what you like.
And so concludes my first huge review thing.
CONCERNING THE LACK OF LANDSHARKS AND CAMPAIGN:
This is a bloody early access, and it takes time to recreate those things in Unity. Be patient, there's only 8 devs, and they want a solid multiplayer first for you, the player or potential believer! And then, only then, can they begin to focus on the landsharky goodness.
Stuff that may be added in update 10:
A brand new, amazing CE-6 SMG model!
My feelings on the progress of the game after so long:
They've gone through some stuff, and they hit steam with only two developers. TWO. Now, today, they're becoming able to hire more due to steam's early access, which will allow them to slowly speed up development and finally get the game out the gate.
I see how some complain that the game did not deliver, lied in it's advertising and all that. I say that when you look at the big picture, with all of ZPS' troubles, experiences, and traits, that the advertising was in no way false at the time it was made.
Original trailer, made to impress and to get a publisher, but from what I remember they didn’t say it was really ingame.
Space Station and Sharks gameplay, a demo built on the Unreal 3 engine to impress and get a publisher, before 2008 screwed them over.
Why does the current game look and play so differently than the demo? They can't use the Unreal 3 engine, the license costs a million bucks. That and the assets are a bit dated.
There's more, but I believe this illustrates my point.