The Cassandra Project - Pre-launch Preview
The Cassandra Project, or TCP as I've come to know it during my tenure at DX-M.com, has been hosted with TTLG nearly since it started up in January 2000.
Since then, The Cassandra Project, headed up by Kieron Gillen himself (of PCGUK fame), has been sending out small pulses of information from its inconspicuous comms page. Through careful narrative, from the core of the Narcissus entity itself, portions of the Cassandra universe have eminated for these past years. If there was one Deus Ex project that seemed to have the perfect crew, it was Cassandra. They've had all the right cards from the start -- a coherent story, a good set of characters, and some rather imaginative level design. Now, in these last few weeks of development, the team is preparing to play that hand. If all goes well, you'll be as impressed as I was.
Without giving away too much of the basic background, I'll say that the game stars the quite frequently featured (in wallpapers still available on their project site) Charlotte Williams. Charlotte is an agent of a secret organization named -- you guessed it -- the Cassandra Project. With the aid of the materials provided on the Cassandra website, it's easy to get involved in the Cassandra world of dark pubs with mysterious but important characters.
Once the game gets rolling past its markedly strange opening, the story and atmosphere really envelop the experience. From the point of entering CPHQ on, the game is an extreme trip through a very rare kind of humor. Between the scripted conversations to the character barks the situation presents an open area of superb office-like architecture with a lot of exploring to do, both with the NPCs that make up the CP and the various rooms throughout the complex.
Now, despite its reportedly highly interesting story and levels, I am certain that there are many avid fans who enjoy the technical and combat aspect of their first person shooters too. I bring this message: Do not worry. Cassandra offers a slew of grenade-type weapons as well as some new twists on old weapons and completely new ammunition. As for augs, I can't say much. The limited piece of Cassandra that I played did not tend to put an extreme emphasis on their use, but it's difficult to tell what is up Charlotte's sleeve. If some of the interesting projects that were mentioned to me months ago exist in the final release, the game will most assuredly compliment the overall impression of a truly variant scenario.
Dialogue is sometimes rather staccato, in many cases lending advantage to the clipped witty lines included throughout. Conversations are used effectively to reveal, even in Charlotte's rather sarcastic tone, the outline of the story. The team has done an excellent job of leading the player through a role instead of throwing a wrapped up story at him all at once.
From the experiences that I had with the Cassandra Project's work, I can only express one concern. While I have seen the integrity of level design and textures increase dramatically in these final weeks, I do hope that some of the limitations of the engine are overcome with the team's desired effect still in place. One particular moment, though lacking any real pain, caused my machine to bloat at an explosion that must have consisted of at least 20 LAM-style blows. These concerns aside, though, I am sure that The Cassandra Project will live up to its modest methods.
And, while you wait, why not check out what's up with the Cassandra Project in its hosted project board?