Gamescom 2012: 1C

1C Company may not be the most familiar software publisher/developer for a lot of you, but the Moscow-based company licenses and publishes over half of all the games we know and love in Russia. Arguably the largest publisher in the world, they also have their own development teams and release Russian-developed titles globally. Flight sim fans should check out their IL-2 Sturmovik games, and real time strategy buffs could do a lot worse than check out 1C’s Men of War series. Time to see what they will be releasing next…

In 1C’s presentation, I got to see Royal Quest, King’s Bounty: Warriors of the North and Space Rangers HD, but the two titles that impressed me most of all were Nuclear Union and Rising Storm for Red Orchestra 2. That last one would have been quite a mouthful if they had also attached Red Orchestra 2’s Heroes of Stalingrad title, but for the expansion to this well-received (mainly multiplayer) shooter they chose to drop the subtitle.

And for good reason, for Rising Storm isn’t set anywhere near Stalingrad. It takes place in the Pacific Theatre, but promises the same kind of realistic ‘one bullet can kill you’-gameplay that Red Orchestra 2 has. It also made the Operation Flashpoint series famous with people looking for a change of pace from the usual Call of Duty/Medal of Honor fare. That doesn’t mean the action doesn’t get frantic, as was demonstrated in the first video I saw that had soldiers storming the beachfront at Iwo Jima. Though just a video, the setting provides for some unique team-based gameplay within a historical setting. The Iwo Jima scene also featured bunkers being cleared using a flame-thrower while another soldier was standing on top of the bunker just waiting for the enemy to come out and pick them off… powerful stuff.

The most impressive part of the presentation for me however were the jungle settings, which look amazing with all their diversity (villages, lush greens, different paths, etc) and all the gameplay dynamics that they offer. Though the game is designed as a multiplayer experience, I believe the jungle settings would serve as a perfect backdrop for a multitude of gameplay modes, including story-driven ones that would blow several earlier jungle-based games out of the water.

Rising Storm will be available as both a standalone product and as an add-on for existing Red Orchestra 2 players – a fact that I was told no other journalists had heard about until then. The project is also fairly unique in that is a full product being developed by the mod community in cooperation with support from the original developers. That alone is reason enough to keep an eye out for this one, due for release early in 2013.

Also coming in 2013 is Nuclear Union, a post-apocalyptic RPG by the makers of Men of War. The game is still early in its development and a release may well be over 9 months away, but what I was able to see definitely has me interested. Taking place in an alternative timeline where the Cuban Missile Crisis led to nuclear war, most of the earth’s population was wiped out apart from groups that fled underground and led their lives there for many decades. Emerging in the present day, a generation now sees the surface that has never seen it before.

Nuclear Union is bound to be compared to games like Fallout, but 1C’s game manages to be different in various ways. While many post-apocalyptic stories revolve around a world with little order and a lot of chaos (Mad Max was mentioned as an example), Nuclear Union features powerful centralized organizations amidst all the chaos. The footage I got to see saw you making your way across a wasteland to deliver a message within a big city, approaching a huge city wall that indicated that the city was nothing short of a fortress. This also means that there will be plenty of diversity in the environment, with big open areas as well as close quarters action.

What is also clear when looking at Nuclear Union is that it will try to incorporate some features we’ve seen in other games within the genre. You’ll be able to recruit travel companions and issue commands to them, a popular feature in many party-based RPGs. And though the setting may resemble Fallout, you can expect mutations that are somewhat reminiscent of games like Stalker and you’ll even come across gravity/physics-based anomalies. The kind of stuff that, with a little imagination, you could picture in a Half-Life game.

With the game still far from being released, and not available in a playable state at Gamescom, we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. Borrowing different elements from titans of the genre isn’t a problem in my book, because if they manage to shape the game into a unique experience with an identity of its own they might very well have a hit on their hands here. Without a new Fallout on the horizon, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Nuclear Union, coming our way from Russia in 2013.

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