Core revolutionized the third-person action adventure genre back in the ’90s with Tomb Raider, but Project Eden takes on a more tactical-focused approach on action gameplay. Looking to add a new branch to the pedigree of first-person shooters, Project Eden combines third-person action-adventure with first-person shooter action, but with a twist: here, you control four characters. Eden is also riddled with puzzles, relying more on strategy than on heavy firepower to get through levels. The levels themselves are justly huge, resembling those of Tomb Raider.
Set in a dark future Earth, the game opens with wildly overcrowded mega-cities consuming every inch of land. The overpopulated cities have urban planning that seems almost Jetson-like, with a murky Blade Runner atmosphere. The sky and sun become luxury items and only the privileged and rich can breathe clean air. The city spirals thousands of feet downward towards the very bottom, where slums shelter the criminals, the crazies, and the mutants. Only structural engineers visit these areas to fix foundations and accommodate more elevating projects.
In an area called the “Meat Factory” the equipment starts to malfunction and the technicians called in to fix them are now reported missing. The powers that be call in The Urban Protection Agency, or UPA, to deal with this disturbance. You control four members of the UPA to investigate the area. As you complete the missions, cut scenes deliver more of the plot to assist you in finding out exactly who is responsible.
The game starts off as the four characters, each with different attributes, await your commands. The foursome resembles your traditional comic book team: the leader, the big guy, the girl, and the all-purpose fella. You automatically start off playing Carter, the leader of the pack. He receives all the transmissions from the UPA and objectives for the missions. The big metal mickey is Amber. The femme is Minoko, computer specialist extraordinaire, who can hack through the systems. Last but not least, the designers provide Andre, Eden’s “Mr. Fix-it.”
Although initially you control Carter, you ultimately need to familiarize yourself with all the characters to get through the game because it’s all about teamwork. As the game gets deeper and deeper, your team starts to learn, improve, and develop more skills. There are two important reference features. First are the character blocks that show each character’s statistics. Next is the detection map, which is circular and shows the enemies as red dots. The game is a dangerous one, and your guys will die lots. Fortunately, it’s the future, so death isn’t really that permanent for you or your team.
Throughout the levels you’ll find Regeneration Points, and when activating those, you can gain back your character. But there is a balance to that. If you don’t regenerate a lost character at the next Regeneration Point and you get miles into the level, you’ll find that you needed that character for the next obstacle; then you have to back track. So the best thing to do is regenerate when you can, or split the team up to get your lost character back safely without having to use up resources fighting regenerated enemies (since when you backtrack, there they are again).
The handy controls enable you to smoothly flip from one character to another. Since team members can share resources, careful management is very important. All characters have their own AI. Unlike bots, you can command them to follow or defend themselves. Team AI also enables your guys to take out threats or stop and search bodies for items – all in real-time. Overall, Project Eden is a promising distraction for those who want a tactical edge with their shooters. The multiple-genre elements are complementary rather than clashing, and the result is a strange yet strangely compelling shooter.
System Requirements: Pentium II 450 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB Video, Win98