Shot is a cancelled first-person rail shooter developed by Housemarque (a team mostly known for Super Stardust, Outland, Dead Nation and Resogun) that was slated for release in 1999 for PC. While it run on other 3d accelerators too, the real-time polygonal engine (which used “photosurreal technology”, a term coined by the programmers themselves), was clearly optimized for Voodoo 2, the most powerful 3dfx card at the time.
The plot was quite original for a shooter: the player controlled the gunner of a UFO ship, which object was to help fellow aliens escape from Earth (or, in alternative, kill them before they got captured by humans), after a failed invasion.
Even if the basic gameplay was similar to other first-person rail shooters (the CPU pilot handled most of the flying, while the player used the mouse to control the sight), in Shot we also had the possibility of killing a distant enemy with the sniping mode, and, though it would quickly drain our life energy, to control time by slowing everything down except for the speed of our viewfinder.
Morever, according to Jani Penttinen, project manager and senior programmer of Shot, sometimes we had to protect the pilot of the airship:
In critical missions, the pilot actually leaves the ship to pick up something from the ground, and the player is responsible for protecting him. If the pilot dies, life gets a whole lot harder, if the player manages to survive on his own for a while, a new pilot will be beamed down from the alien mother ship and he will be able to continue the mission.
Just like other examples of the genre, each stage had multiple paths to explore. But Shot was interesting in having a map from which it was possible to select all the levels from the beginning. However, the longer we waited to play a stage, the stronger and more smarter the enemies inside it became (the AI was specifically programmed to learn over time from players tactics).
Thankfully, other fellow aliens sometimes would have helped us, and the viewfinder cleverly pointed out the most dangerous enemies currently on screen. Apparently, most of the game’s stages were hit-and-run rescue missions. After successfully beating a level, our ship was given better weaponry.
Unfortunately, Shot ended up being cancelled because Housemarque wasn’t able to find a publisher for the game.
Next Gen Magazine issue 40
Edge issue 56
Conversation with Jani Penttinen on twitter
Thanks to Maik Thiele for the contribution!