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Hands On: Megaton Rainfall

Super, man

Blowing shit up is a lot of fun. It's an enormous amount of fun, in fact, which makes it strange that it's so rarely offered in gaming. Destructible environments must be a royal pain in the arse for so many not to include them, meaning we need to hark back to the Red Faction series to remember the last time it was properly enjoyable. Step forward Megaton Rainfall [official site], which offers literally worlds filled with cities to damage. All in the name of thwarting an alien attack, obviously. I've had a play, and can confirm it's looking like something pretty special.

You're a superhero. That's not just a little motivational speech for you, but also the case in the game - a flying hero who is attempting to prevent an alien invasion of Earth by blasting extra-terrestrial gubbins out of the sky. But your blasting powers are pretty darned strong, and miss anything and you'll spectacularly rip chunks out the side of skyscrapers, demolish sections of road, and send pedestrians screaming in terror. Tee hee.

The demo I played was running on Oculus Rift, so it was hard to get a good impression of the true fidelity on offer in the game. But even in the fuzzy, laggy nonsense of primitive VR, it was genuinely surprising to note that this vast city in which I flew offered minute details of individual (albeit simple, blocky) cars on the roads, a sense of a moving, living urbania.

The game started with my floating above the Earth's atmosphere, and developer Alfonso del Cerro assured me it was possible to fly to anywhere on the planet to find cities and missions. A huge claim. We'll see. In this build, however, a UFO was causing trouble in one particular location, so it was to there I descended, to begin my dubious heroics.

The UFO released a series of attacks; smaller ships, peculiar bomb things, and an enormous laser canon creation that required meticulous attacks to remove, before taking on the massive mothership itself. Cause or allow too much destruction and you'd be restarted at the beginning of the most recent wave. Win and be rewarded with more to blow up.

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Enemies have weak points that need to be targeted, which means mastering the flying controls - something that wasn't too simple in 3D VR-o-vision. Targeting was done by looking, but movement required both analogues on a 360 pad, which didn't lead to a comfortable play. I'm pretty sure that a good-old-fashioned flat screen would serve Megaton a lot more favourably.

The potential for this, when let loose of a tech demo and into a mission-driven, world conquering hero-fest, is so enormous. The tech on display is already extraordinary, buildings splintering and rupturing in glorious bursts, alien vessels feeling powerful and threatening.

And yet, it might be far more than world-conquering. del Cerro explained that he intends for players to be able to fly away from Earth and go and deal with missions and sidequests taking place on other planets in the solar system. Goodness. If he can genuinely achieve this scale, then what a thing this could be.

Very early to make any solid calls, but it's already a lot of fun to muck around in. My hope is that it can become a little more lenient in the destruction it allows, perhaps incorporating some sort of measure of your heroics as a result of the harm you do or don't cause, rather than putting in resets when you over-step the limits. Because why implement such excellent shit-up-blowing if you're not going to let people revel in it? As my grandmother always said.

Megaton Rainfall has no fixed released date at this point, but will hopefully appear some time next year.

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