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Terra Nova Retrospective

Terraforming on IncGamers is a retrospective on Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri, including thoughts from the game's project lead Dan Schmidt (now a Harmonix designer) about this tactical first-person shooter developed and published by Looking Glass in 1996. The game could be considered a predecessor to Crysis, offering first-person combat in a sci-fi power-suit, and steep system requirements to run ambitious features. Unfortunately, while the game was a critical success, it did not sell well, and the retrospective examines the factors that hurt the game's sales, including delays and the choice to participate in the now forgotten "arms race" of full motion video, which ate up a lot of development resources for a cheesy outcome. For the curious, they also point to a thread called Running Terra Nova on a modern machine on the TTLG Forums outlining the apparently fairly difficult process of getting the game to operate under DOSBox.

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19. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 28, 2009, 04:51 Jonny
 
I loved this game when it came out. The mission that really blew me away was sneaking around in a scout suit during a thunderstorm trying to find something or other. Squatting on a hillside with lightning earthing all around, scanning the valley with night vision and sensors to find enemy patrols was truly immersive and I'd never experienced that before.

I have to agree with the FMV being bad though. Even at the time it didn't stand up to the competition, especially as the competition was Wing Commander with $10 million budgets and a cast of proper actors.
 
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18. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 20:04 Tumbler
 
Classic game, the view distances were what made this game stand out, could see for miles. Was just a damn fun game.

Before I picked this game up a friend of mine convinced me to buy it by showing me how cool some of the weapon were. He launched some kind of bomb way off into the distance and it landed on a hill side, BOOM, HUGE explosion, was amazing. I'm sure today it would look ridiculous but at the time it was f-n awesome.

Have many fond memories of this game.
 
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17. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 19:40 Dead Tired
 
I remember Midwinter and it's sequel but for once I had too many games to play and never got around to playing it after fooling around for 15 minutes or so but it looked interesting. Really wanted to hang glide in it but.....ah well.  
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16. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 19:25 space captain
 
nobody remembers Midwinter??

that was some early 3D world shit
 
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15. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 16:12 Lev Arris
 
Classic game, the view distances were what made this game stand out, could see for miles. Was just a damn fun game.

The FMV did have a cheese factor in this game, but I point you to the Wing Commander series, Crusader Series, and Privateer 2. Mark Hamill, an incredibly young Clive Owen, and Biff Henderson.
 
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14. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 15:53 Parias
 
They were actually working on a multiplayer version of the game (and had it advertised on the back of the jewel case), but sadly it never came out.  
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13. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 14:08 zincthallinide
 
Definitely a fun game - the maps were far larger than anything Quake could support, although the graphics were based on voxels and so were less 'exact'. The four player squad (3 AI) was also something unique to games at the time.

I remember that the cinematic sequences were terrible, and nowadays I'm sure the graphics would look horrible - but it was a fun game and I won it all, though I forget what happens (something about rebels, and uhh, stuff).

It had a variety of weapons (you'd pick your loadout at the start) and the maps were all rather varied and overall yeah, I remember thinking it was a good game but that nobody really played it.

It also had no multiplayer.. this would have helped immensely.. but maybe that was simply beyond the capabilities of 1996..
 
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12. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 13:42 Darks
 
I loved this game too. and I agree it deffinatly needs to be remade. it was one of the first games to implement body armor suits for fighting. with a kewl heads up display. When LG went under my first thought was no... there goes any remakes.  
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11. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 12:24 dryden555
 
my sole complaint about TN is that you were using rail guns from long distances so that meant you were often shooting at literally black dots on the landscape.  
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10. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 11:32 Shadowcat
 
1996 was the year of Quake, which Terra Nova sadly had no chance against whatsoever.
Maybe if you only bought one game in a year? But even then, Terra Nova (definitely not a Mech game) and Quake had almost nothing in common, beyond the first-person perspective.

I'm sure Quake didn't help, but I don't think that was the primary reason that TN didn't sell enough.

DOSBox is definitely the easy way to play on a modern PC, and the game is still cool. There was nothing like TN at the time, and there has been precious little like it since. Definitely a classic.

This comment was edited on Feb 27, 2009, 13:50.
 
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9. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 11:21 Dead Tired
 
I loved the game but couldn't get past a mission where you had to protect two separate convoys or something. I always lost the second one after a brief fight. But my gaming skills were still rudimentary (as opposed to now where they're atrophying).

Always wished for something to take its place. The Mechwarrior series was good but not quite the same thing.
 
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8. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 10:26 shul
 
someone should make an iphone port of this game! it was so much fun!!  
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7. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 09:32 Cutter
 
Yeah, we all miss Looking Glass. I do not, however, miss that whole FMV period for games. That was just awful. In fact, I had forgotten about that entirely. Thanks, Blue, ya jerk!
 
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6. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 07:44 Hump
 
this is one of those games I always wished had gotten a remake  
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5. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 07:18 Aero
 
This was an excellent game. It was pretty advanced for its time, like most of Looking Glass's games. Looking Glass is easily one of the best PC developers of all time when they were on the ball. They just had a few hiccups along the way.

It's a shame they didn't quite keep it up.
 
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4. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 07:02 Ludomancer
 
I love this game so much. I always thought of it as a precursor to Tribes rather than anything else. Never considered it a mech game either.  
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3. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 06:48 InBlack
 
I keep wishing for a new Mechwarrior sim, the last two games were pretty awesome. Especially Mechwarrior4 Mercenariers.
Too bad Microsoft will never ever sell the licence they aquired from FASA (or did they just buy out FASA?) and if they do develop another Mech game, it will be an Xbox consolitis eXclusive turd
 
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2. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 05:55 Zawath
 
Terra Nova was one of the best mech games ever.  
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1. Re: Terra Nova Retrospective Feb 27, 2009, 05:36 Zzet
 
I remember this, I gave it a glancing play and never came back to it. 1996 was the year of Quake, which Terra Nova sadly had no chance against whatsoever.  
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