Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer: Renegade Kid
Dual Screen Compatible
Touch Screen Compatible
Stylus and D-Pad Control
I remember seeing early screenshots of Moon for the Nintendo DS. Developed by Renegade Kid the early indications of what Moon had to offer up was quite intriguing. It looked as though the game, which follows the 2007 release of Dementium: The Ward, also for the DS, was going to be another testament to the development team’s programming expertise on Nintendo's dual-screened wonder. With impressive visuals and a science fiction theme to it, it looked as though this FPS was going to be another extraordinary feat. Well Moon has finally hit retail shelves, and after some extended time with the game I have to say that, in my opinion, it lives up to my expectations, but it does hit a speed bump or two on the way.
If there is one thing that Moon really nails right off the get-go it is the visuals. I was pretty amazed with the eye candy offered in this game, especially for a DS title. The use of geometry and colors is very prevalent in each level. There are lots of blinking lights, animated panels and differing textures in each level you come across. I found that each time I entered a new area I was looking forward to seeing what was about to unfold on the screen in front of me. The fact that the textures used in the levels are not flat and have some depth to them took me by surprise, as it adds a sense of technical expertise and visual strength to the game.
There were a few times that I found myself in awe of the scenery unfolding in front of me too. This was particularly evident during some of my jaunts across the moon's lunar surface. Stars were twinkling in the sky above and should I have looked at that big shiny ball in the sky called the sun, there was some impressive lens flare going on. Of course being on the moon also allowed me to see our mother Earth from afar, and it too looked pretty darn good. If it seems like I was impressed with the graphics engine, I would have to say yes I am.
Technically speaking the game runs as smooth as silk. Moon has some pretty solid animation in the enemy characters and other astronauts that you will come across. I found that there was nary a hiccup in sight and this something that is pretty amazing given that this game is running on the DS hardware. Overall there is very little here to be disappointed in as the visuals help to pull you further into the whole Moon experience.
The audio in Moon is another strong point in the game. It may not be as strong as the visuals, but they are strong nonetheless. The music is very 'techno' in nature, and may grate some people; however I found that I did not have any personal issues with it. It manages to set a great tone for the overall atmosphere of the game, as well as for each level you enter. There is also some great use of sound effects as well, such as the sounds of machinery or enemies in the distance. Some of the sound does come across as compressed, but it does not hurt the audio too much. There is also some good use of voice work as evidenced by the chatter you hear in your space helmet. If there is one tip for enjoying the sound, and this was recommended in the fact sheet sent out with the game, you need to use a set of headphones to fully enjoy the audio even more. At the end of the day the total sound package really does add to the game.
The story of Moon is has that typical sci-fi flair. You take on the role of Major Kane, a member of paranormal encounter troop. You learn that a mysterious hatch has been found on the lunar surface of the Earth's moon. Kane and his fellow troop are sent to investigate the appearance of this hatch, but as one would expect, things seems to go awry on the lunar surface and so the story of Moon begins. As you make your way through the game you will come across various data logs in each level. I usually don't take the time to look at all these types of items in a game, but I found that in Moon it was something that I wanted to do, and something you should do too. These logs are found in terminals and contain more stories about the happenings on the moon and what has occurred prior to your arrival. The data entries themselves are relatively short and don't take up a lot of time, but they do add more substance to the game's narrative. Overall I found that the story did play a part in the whole experience of this game.
Moon is played from the first person perspective and has its' roots in FPS gameplay, but that is not to say it is a strictly a run and gun game. Control is utilized via the d-pad and stylus combination that other FPS titles have used in the past. It is pretty intuitive and easy to learn. There is a lot more adventure aspects to be had in this title then I was expecting. For those who are thinking that this is a Metroid Prime: Hunters type game, which is a game that a lot of DS FPS titles get compared to, I have to forewarn you that it is not. Don't get me wrong, there is lots of shooting to be found in Moon, but there are also other elements included in the game to make it that much more of an enjoyable experience.
The shooter elements in Moon are pretty cool to say the least. You will find that these occur a lot when you first enter a new room/area prior to you having a chance just to explore. You'll encounter such foes as floating sentry bots, giant walking bots, mobile turrets and spider-like bots. Of course you will face mini-bosses along the way. Actually, when I think more about the enemies I came across during my adventure, it was clear that most of them were more mechanical and robotic then alien or life-like. This brings me to a complaint. As you progress through the game the enemies themselves don't change in variety, but they change in their difficulty and add new elements to their existing portfolio. For example, you may come across a boss during the game that is alone, then later on the same style boss adds floating sentry bots, then even later on same boss but even more elements added. This can get somewhat monotonous as you basically fight against the same type of enemy, but you have to change your tactics as they are different in what obstacles you have to fight.
Don't let the somewhat repetitive enemies scare you away though, as there are other elements that make this a solid game. I found that the weapons included in the game, from the pistol, shotgun to the sniper rifle, all do a great job of killing the various baddies you come across. Heck, you may even find yourself really choosing one over another and stick with what works for you. I also found that as I ventured across the various levels offered that I never was out of ammo, only close to it, as the game intuitively seemed to provide ammo at just the right times for the right weapon. I do not know if this was due to the programming of the game, or just pure luck, but no matter what it was I liked how it worked for me.
Beyond the shooting elements, Moon adds some great puzzle elements to the mix. You have a device called a Remote Access Droid (RAD) which you will use quite often in the game. This little device allows you to drive through small vents and tunnels in an effort to progress your adventure. As Kane you will not be able to access specific areas or items, but using the RAD will allow you to do such, which in turn allows you to continue moving your journey forward. Beyond the simple puzzles, should you wish to even have more fun with the RAD you can also use it to stun enemies around a corner and then switch back to Kane and come in and finish the job. You will find that there are a lot of different uses for the RAD and it adds even more to the game.
During specific times in Moon you will find yourself venturing across the lunar landscape in a moon buggy called the LOLA. You will find that you not only to use this vehicle to get from point A to point B, but there are also a few LOLA specific missions that include racing, driving against the clock, securing an objective or just trying to escape peril. Bottomline, this aspect of Moon is pretty good as the LOLA controls pretty well and having these stages helps to break up game somewhat.
In terms of longevity, Moon should take you anywhere from 5-8 hours depending on your skill level and how much time you really do take exploring. You can replay any of the games levels in quick play once finished and there is some incentive to search for three items (artifacts) in each level which when collected open up bonus VR training missions. For those looking for a little multiplayer, Moon does not offer such so single player is the only flavor offered.
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