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They - hands-on

There’s been a bit of buzz about Metropolis Software’s latest project in development, They. The first-person shooter places you in the heart of London in the near future and pits you against an army of invading robots. They’s canned premise sounds painfully generic at first, but the title has some interesting twists in store for those looking for a good reason to pick up a gun and fight.

Right off the bat, They breaks away from the traditional shooter weapons system. You won’t find new weapons as you play through the game. Instead, you’ll collect various parts that can be used to tune your weapon in order to create your own custom-made Swiss Army gun.


Above: They shifts the focus from the protagonist to what matters most in a shooter, your weapon

The weapon tuning screen features slots for the upper and lower barrels, gadgets and generators. Like Ripley at the end of Aliens, you can mix and match the parts you find to create your favorite combination of weapon types with gadgets that range from scopes to improved grips that increase aiming accuracy. Plans are also in the works to include additional customization options that’ll let you paint your weapon and even decorate it with your own custom designs.

Finding new parts in They to tweak your weapon feels like the shooter equivalent of upgrading an RPG character with new gear and skills. We’ve always had trouble identifying with the man behind the gun in most shooters, so it’s interesting that They shifts the focus from the protagonist to what matters most: your weapon.


Above: They has its fair share of eye candy. It’s running on a tweaked version of the Nexus Engine, which was used in Metropolis Software’s last project, Infernal

But even though we didn’t find ourselves drawn in by They’s main character, the title’s plot does have promise. You’ll notice that orange ethereal entities float above some of the killer robots you encounter. These specters improve the killer robots’ AI, making them m ore dangerous. When the orange spirits are pulling the strings, the robots under their control will be more likely to play it smart by taking cover and trying to flank you. You can’t shoot these orange menaces and if you defeat a robot that’s guided by one of them, they’ll move on to the next host to cause you further grief.

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