Question. Why has nobody ever managed to develop a game that can come even close to dislodging Counter-Strike from its lofty perch atop the strategic online shooter pile? Answer? Because no-one has ever tried taking the CS template, retaining all that is good and adding in an original slant, that’s why. Well, at least not until now they haven’t.

Created by fledgling developers Acony - a team formed from an array of industry veterans - Parabellum seeks to infuse the Counter-Strike template with more strategic and tactical depth by linking a series of missions together to create one massive, objective-driven online battlefield.

Powered by Unreal Engine 3, Parabellum is already looking mightily impressive in the visual stakes, despite being a year or so off completion. Once you dive into a level, your first task is to join either the highly-trained US anti-terrorist Delta team or the despicable Black November terrorist faction, intent on turning the Big Apple into a charred core with a fat-assed bomb.

“There’s a 20-megaton nuclear warhead somewhere in New York City that’s been planted by a terrorist group called Black November, which has an ex-military background,” explains Frank Trigub, director and game designer at Acony, who’s presenting the game to us. “Opposed to them is Delta, a real world counter-terrorist unit.”

Once you’ve pledged your allegiance, the clock starts ticking, and it’s up to you and your team-mates to either find and defuse the bomb before it goes boom or to stop the counter-terrorists from getting anywhere near it.

“We’ve broken New York down into 12 sectors,” continues Trigub. “Across these sectors we want to show all the different faces of New York. There’ll be skyscrapers, backyards, residential areas, parks, airports and subways. When we were looking at most of the multiplayer games out there, we realised that they’re just a collection of unconnected maps. We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if all the maps in the game connected together? In Parabellum, each level is just part of a bigger picture as we’re building a city out of these levels.”