Ever since its inception, Futuremark Corporation was known as the benchmark maker, especially for their 3DMark and subsequent PCMark series of benchmarks. The fact that Futuremark opted for benchmarks-only approach led into many debates about 3DMark and PCMark being "synthetic" benchmarks.

However, on November 4th, 2009 everything is going to change. Futuremark Gaming Studios is coming out with their first game, dubbed Shattered Horizon. This is a multiplayer-only game set on very attractive maps around what’s left of the Moon after a certain "incident" [Teaser Trailer, Raid on Moondust trailer, YouTube videos]. The game is available for pre-order on Steam or Futuremark Store for only 19.95 Dollars or Euro. Yes, we known – European company went for 1:1 exchange ratio, what can you do… then again, if you take a look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and its bloated 59.95 price [for a game that is intended to be played in multiplayer], there is little doubt in what title should deserve your look. This is not the final price, as 2500 beta testers and users that purchased 3DMark06, 3DMark Vantage or PCMark Vantage all qualify for additional 25% discount.

Move left, right, up, down... real 3D game is almost here.
Move left, right, up, down… first real 3D game after Descent is almost here.

Just like 3DMark Vantage, Shattered Horizon utilizes Futuremark’s own DirectX 10-only engine, which means this game is playable only under Windows Vista or Windows 7 operating systems. In the light of steam users leaving Windows XP and migrating to Windows 7 in droves, we don’t see this as a significant downfall. Vista-only choice would suck, but as of last week, you can acquire final version of Windows 7 ? kudos to Futuremark on smart selection of the release date ;)

We have tried this game on variety of configurations, including a Core 2 Duo with GeForce 8600 and were surprised at the high frame rate achieved by puny two year old GeForce 8600 card. Naturally, we played the beta version of the game on top-of-shelf systems with GeForce GTX 285, ATI Radeon HD 5870 and so on. In each and every case, Shattered Horizon ran very fast [naturally, quality settings were different].

All in all, my final verdict about Shattered Horizon will have to wait until I see the final version, but by far – this is the most addictive and playable game I have laid my hands on in 2009. Finally a fast paced title that brings some innovations to the genre [shoot the enemy in the backpack and you’ll know why]. If you are one of rare folk that has 3D Vision glasses, you will both enjoy in the game and have somewhat of advantage, since you’ll be able to feel the depth and prioritize your targets. Secondly, this is the first real 3D title after Descent series and for that alone, this is a high competitor for the Game of the Year title here at BSN*.