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Instant Action: Fallen Empires Beta

The browser-based multiplayer 3D shooter is go. Instant Action unveiled the Fallen Empires: Legions public beta earlier today, and I dropped out of our lunchtime TF2 session to play it. I have to say, it was a just-about-acceptable alternative. Fallen Empires is really shaping up to be something special, and I definitely feel a multiplayer FPS renaissance coming on. What’s most thrilling, however, is that it’s running on another tab in the same browser I’m using to write this post… More after the jump.
So then: impressions? Fast, slightly fiddly. The game browser was a bit laggy. They could make it clearer that you can choose a class and therefore loadout on the front page. The size of the maps and the speed of travel means it’ll probably be a few minutes before you even get close to an enemy. But it’s instantly comprehensible: it’s an FPS, and you have a jetpack. Go! Go!

Obviously there are some strong Tribes vibes here (holding down right mouse button allows you to “ski” with your jetpack) and that’s definitely a good thing. There’s a good, smooth, fast-paced feel to it. Once you get into the skiing and start seeing the game as a series of ramps and jumps it becomes the FPS-variant of extreme sports. Rocket-skating for deathmongers. The weapons aren’t quite beefy enough (and I seem to remember saying the same thing about Tribes) and the rocket-launcher currently dominates the game. Still, I suspect that will change as people get a better handle on what the hit-scan weapons are actually capable of. Hurtling across the map with chaingun whirling is going to become a favourite feeling.

The environment for deathmatch and capture the flag do feel a little empty, but that seems to fit the fluid feel of the game. This about racing across open-space as you fight, a kind of humanoid, semi-aerial dogfighting. “Freedom of Movement Returns” is the tagline for Fallen Empires, and it’s bang on: what are all these game designers doing ignoring the jetpack? It’s the perfect videogame-world tool. Fallen Empires is an antidote to everything else that I’ve been playing for the past six months. Really great stuff.

Of course the Instant Action website itself is an incredible piece of software. Browser based gaming, all streamlined and simple. It should have been like this years ago, and GarageGames are my personal heroes for making it finally work so well. If you’ve not played around with this yet, then you should do.

So… everyone should go and play Fallen Empires. It’s free, it’ll run on an aged laptop. Let me know what you think, and I’ll see you on the servers later this afternoon.

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Jim Rossignol

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