Back in the day when I was growing up, Counter Strike was the shit. And not just my shit, either – everybody seemed to be invested in Counter Strike. The idea of CS was simple: terrorists versus counter-terrorists, five players on each end, everyone starts with a knife, you buy weapons, and you go. With Counter Strike, you had three different types of maps (similar to Overwatch, come to think of it); diffusing a bomb (or defending said bomb), a hostage situation, or an assassination. From 1999 to present day, players are still enjoying the game both casually and professionally.
Since 1999, things with Counter Strike and even Rainbow Six haven’t really changed. Nobody has really complained about that to my knowledge, but I’ve been waiting for some new evolution of that game style. Then all of a sudden, here comes First Contact Entertainment, a start-up company from Santa Monica who had kept their new game Firewall: Zero Hour under wraps all this time. First Contact has released one other title, ROM: Extraction, but other than that, the Call of Duty veteran-developer team has been very quiet.
This year’s Playstation Experience keynote opened up with Firewall: Zero Hour, a game that has convinced me to add the PSVR to my Amazon cart once and for all. Never have I ever felt so immersed in a VR game before. I played the demo with [what I was told was] the 2.0 PSVR headset, the newest one on the market. It was very comfortable, I had no focus issue – even with glasses – and was so into it, the guy at my station had to tell me I needed to turn back around and face forward. If you recall at this year’s CES, I almost whacked a poor Sony rep in the face with the gun playing Farpoint, (sorry, Michael!) so this isn’t out of character for me.
I jumped into a game with former Koalition editor, David Jagneaux, and two other people. This game, much like professional level CS, requires a lot of communication. Our goal was to get the GPS coordinates for a laptop and secure it before the other team got us. All three rounds we played, we were able to beat the developers in the other room and secure the laptop, and succeed in our mission.
The controls felt very natural – when I was being shown what everything was, I felt a bit overwhelmed. “Oh shit, I’m gonna screw this up and embarrass myself. What did that button do again?” When I jumped into the game, that all went out the window. First Contact has done an incredible job making the controls feel super natural. They were so natural, in fact, that the had pre-selected the right-handed shooting style and playing left handed, I was still able to succeed in carrying the team to a win. Shooting with the left-handed configuration the next two rounds was even better; I’m very happy to see developers giving players the choice between left-handed and right-handed configurations. Makes playing a lot easier and more comfortable for folks like me.
I could go on and on about Firewall: Zero Hour, but I’ll save you the trouble. The game at this stage in development is absolutely phenomenal. The pacing is great, the mechanics are smooth as hell, and it’s just downright fun. I haven’t enjoyed a first person shooter like that in years. Andrew Odella, head of QA at First Contact Entertainment has been handling all of the QA himself for the majority of this development cycle. The fact one person handled QA for most of that time on his own goes to show how much hard work and passion is going into the development of this title.
Firewall: Zero Hour has no hard release date yet, but is slated sometime for 2018.