Natural Selection 2 Beta Preview

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Natural Selection 2 Beta Preview

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Natural Selection 2

Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Genre: RTS, FPS

Some of us original Half-Life players remember the golden days in our youth when the won servers were still up and the modifications in Half-Life were many and rich with detail. Natural Selection was one of those modifications that many look back on and remember playing over and over and always left wanting more. The original modification was designed by Charlie Cleveland who went on to create Unknown Worlds Entertainment.  Even now a small community keeps this modification alive.

Natural Selection 2 screenshot 1

Which this all brings us to Natural Selection 2 – the result of the GoldSrc engine becoming quickly outdated, leaving most wanting more from the original Natural Selection – better graphics, game play improvements and other things that the GoldSrc engine couldn’t support. Unknown Worlds Entertainment settled on making an engine that would not only improve and build upon all the player requests, but also added features that the original players didn’t dream possible, like an easy way for a simple player to make great 3D maps for the game in a quick and easy manner.

With this engine they wanted to make the game not only look good and be easily modifiable, they wanted to make it run off of medium to low end gaming machines so that everyone could enjoy it, even if they didn’t have enough money to upgrade to the latest and greatest hardware within the last few years.

Let me put this in perspective though: the targeted system requirements on release are: 1.2 GHZ processor, 256 MB of Ram, DirectX 9 level Graphics card and Windows 2000/XP/Vista. Clearly they are aiming low when it comes to requirements and high when it comes to quality.

Natural Selection 2 screenshot

On November 18th, 2010, they announced they were in the closed beta phase of Natural Selection 2 available to those who pre-ordered. As a lover of the old Natural Selection mod back in my youth, I must say I am glad that they allowed me to preview this game.

The graphics system is great. I can play the game on high quality settings and still manage to get 30-60 frames per second on my laptop’s Nvidia GTS 360M. The graphics so far mix well with the atmosphere that is created by the game. A marine walking down a long hall, not knowing if a skulk is about to drop on to your head or turn the corner and rush you creates a tension in the game that is amazing and the graphics really complement that. It’s breathtaking when a stream of fire shoots towards you when you’re a lerk, flying around free, barely dodging attacks that look magnificent, hiding up in the rafters, waiting for the perfect time to gas the squad of marines setting up a base.

As for the gameplay, right now the bad part is that the game lags up a bit sometimes and this can really crush the flow of things, for example when you are about to shoot a gas bomb, the game freezes up, and suddenly you notice the marine has moved completely across the room. Makes for some very irking deaths sometimes.  Despite this present sort of potential for crunchy lag, it is a beta and further optimization will make a good thing great – but I want to reiterate that the game does play very well for the most part.

Most sessions I ended up playing were very close, where only a small element such as a small room with a node was able to turn the tide of the game.

On the site there are 10,000 closed beta slots available. Find out more or pre-order the Natural Selection2 Beta now

[xrr rating=”4/5″]

Natural Selection 2 Official Trailer:


5 thoughts on “Natural Selection 2 Beta Preview

  1. If you’d like to judge the game for yourself, and see some of the cool gameplay Michael was talking about in this preview, check out the NS2HD youtube channel.

  2. … and make sure you have a god mode rig, otherwise you won’t be able to play

  3. “…but also added features that the original players didn’t dream possible, like an easy way for a simple player to make great 3D maps for the game in a quick and easy manner.”

    Can you explain this please? The Spark editor is just as complicated as any other modern editor, which means a high learning curve. Have they added some kind of additional modular system or something?

    1. Well actually I feel that the spark editor is easier than say the hammer editor or the source SDK. I have had very little experience mapping and was able to make a very basic map in just under an hour.

      1. Hmm, I’d be careful about saying something like that.

        The phrase came across sounding like a user-friendly tile-based editor or something, which it most definitely is not. I admit to not having tried Spark in the last few months, but it is still very much a technical and time-consuming editor, one that would require hundreds of hours to produce a quality level.

        You can follow a tutorial and produce a ‘very basic map’ in UDK in under an hour as well, but the same issues apply.

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