Here's a semi-spin off from Deus Ex (pronounced 'day-us ex', not 'due sex'). We're sure everyone can pronounce 'Project: Snowblind' just fine - but will anyone want to play it?
PS2, Xbox, PC
Lite Beer. There's nothing particularly wrong with the concept in principal, beer with less calories. Fine if you want to drink something beer-like but without the unsightly love handles that come with it. Sure it can be alright, it's just that when it comes to the tasting, it's a piss poor imitation of the full fat flavour. How does the beer reference relate to this game? Well, you see, Project: Snowblind began its life as a multiplayer version of the much loved (at least by those that, er, love it) Deus Ex. It can also be summed up fairly accurately as a "Deus Ex Lite".
Since its inception it has of course expanded beyond that initial premise. The multiplayer mode is still kicking around but now has a single player campaign to play through. Also, any initial link this had with Deus Ex has been forgotten, though the two games still hold many elements in common. At least that is in terms of concept, if not execution.
It also shares much in common with many other FPS games. Elements that show its ancestry relates to the most part to the augmentations; Bio-mods which make you more than human, bestowing abilities such as invisibility, time-slowing and shielding. In practice however, the use of these abilities is limited by your bio-energy which runs out at an alarming rate, and can only be recharged with pick-ups. As such they cannot really be relied upon, and not using them highlights that there isn't any actual need to do so.
Stealth is another aspect displaying the games roots, coupled with the ability to use 'Ice Picks' to hack into any computer terminals or to control the robotic enemies. Again though, the reality is rather limited. Nipping into air-ducts is little more than a way of taking a short breather from firefights, and the hacking amounts to switching cameras off and remote sentry guns against your enemies.
An enjoyable exception to this is when you hack a sentry bot, mini ED-209 alikes, and the subsequent enemy meat-grinding that ensues. The level design does contain some leeway in terms of linearity, some small amount of choice in how you tackle it. Small being the operative word though, being only minor detours through the main route of the level, and the destination is always the same.
However, whether intentional or not, these augmentations and hacking abilities are really just an aside to the bulk of the game anyway. It is quite easy to forget about them entirely and simply steam in guns ablaze, a strategy that seems to work just fine. Backed up with an arsenal or weapons, most with a (usually useful) secondary fire mode as has become the norm for the FPS.
The game engine and control setup makes for a solid and responsive experience, in itself an achievement on the PS2, making the bulk of the game more enjoyable than not. Grenades too are handled well, all types able to be triggered by remote, taking the frustration out of judging correct throwing arcs. There is even a weapon not unlike the Gravity Gun in Half Life 2, but yet again is a much more limited way; indeed there is no practical reason for using it at all.
It also doesn't hurt that aesthetically there is no cause for complaint. The frame-rate is stable, some nice lighting effects make there presence known and weapon effects and explosions are pretty enough. Audio effects, for the most part, and the musical score help to build and maintain the atmosphere too. Voice acting is rarely a cause for celebration with videogames, but at least here it isn't bad, enough so that it just melds in with everything else. In terms of depth though, there isn't.
Aside from the single player campaign nearing 20 levels, which you may wish to replay through once more, and the multiplayer might see good use (no splitscreen modes though - online or LAN games only). There isn't anything else, perhaps making for a great rental instead of a good purchase.
It may only be a lite version of Deus Ex, but then that game wasn't to everyone's tastes anyway. Some people prefer to just run 'n gun, rather than all this slow-moving stealth and tacky technology nonsense. With this game though, the choice is there for a bit of everything; even if there isn't exactly a need for it. The shooty bits are fun while they last though.
Some people also prefer Lite beer too... weird.