First-person shooters have been all the rage since the 90s. Since then, many popular subgenres like arena shooters or military shooters have taken the front stage, while other relatively less popular subgenres like tactical shooters slowly and steadily built a niche audience for themselves. One of the games falling into the latter category is Project I.G.I., which amassed a sort of cult following with its group of fans who swear by the game and its sequel named I.G.I. 2 that released back in 2003, and since then – fans have been craving for a third game.
More than 18 years later, we now have the first glimpse of the next game titled I.G.I. Origins. The game is currently in development at Antimatter Games, and is shaping up to be a worthy sequel all while paying homage to the games that came before. With the game’s imminent release date approaching soon, the time seems ripe to ask the question – what the hell is I.G.I. Origins?
The tale of I.G.I. Origins’ development is a rather interesting one; the game was first unveiled in 2019 with a short teaser. At the time, development duties belonged to Toadman Interactive and the game was being published by Antimatter Games. But later on, Antimatter Games took on development and as it stands now – Antimatter is in charge of both development and publishing the game.
I.G.I. Origins is set against the backdrop of an alternate history 1980s Cold War, and you take on the role of an agent codenamed Regent, who is serving a top-secret government organization by the name MI6. The involved nations are on the brink of a full-scale conflict, and your job is to prevent that from happening at all costs. An important point to note here is that this is a prequel to the original Project I.G.I., which makes Origins a great jumping-off point for newcomers to the franchise.
Those who have played through previous entries in the franchise would recognize this familiar narrative setup. And while it allows for some pretty varied level designs and operations scenarios, the major focus on the larger plot of preventing a war makes the story pretty forgettable. This was a major criticism of the original games, and there’s a high chance that Origins may suffer from the same complaints if it were to retread familiar ground. As such, it would be great if I.G.I. Origins deviates from the formula and tries to place some focus on the characters instead of conspiracies and the minute details of operations.
But either way, most fans are going in for the combat. I.G.I. Origins will play a lot like its predecessors, and the moment-to-moment gameplay is going to revolve around trying to find your way to the objectives through hordes of guards and enemies in highly guarded facilities. Players will have the option to freely choose their approach in missions, and the game would incorporate everything from all guns blazing to careful stealth kills to anything and everything in between.
The original games were pretty brutal in terms of difficulty, and going without prior planning would instantly result in a quick death. It’s pretty likely that Origins will retain the same level of difficulty, so players would have to try to mix action and stealth as per the situation to get through the levels.
Regent is a highly skilled agent, and will have access to plenty of varied weaponry to choose from. In addition to the trusty knife, there’s going to be a silenced pistol, an MP5 SMG, sniper rifles, and many other weapons in a similar vein. Each weapon will have its own pros and cons. So while the MP5 might have a silencer attached, the damage output would be markedly lower than a proper rifle which would obviously have higher damage but would make a lot of noise in return. As such, players will have to smartly choose their weapons of destruction for the job at hand.
And then there are the levels. Project I.G.I. and I.G.I. 2 featured sprawling levels with plenty of interiors and open spaces, and it seems fair to say that I.G.I. Origins seems to be building on what came before. The trailer showcased huge military bases populated with rocket launching stations and barracks, which has us excited for the release. We also saw the player sneaking into these facilities through forests and gutters and ladders, which would indicate multiple entry and exit points per level – which in turn should make each level highly replayable. Furthermore, we also saw a snippet of the player character equipping night vision goggles, which would further increase the variety in missions.
Any game with stealth elements needs to nail the level design, and Antimatter Games seems to have a great understanding of this level design. Of course, we would only know that for sure once the game finally releases – but it’s looking really promising nevertheless.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the visuals. I.G.I. Origins is looking like an absolutely gorgeous game, and a lot of that praise can be attributed to the high-quality visuals. Antimatter Games has made great use of Unreal Engine 5, and it shows. I.G.I. Origins boasts some impressive texture work alongside great lighting even in challenging scenarios with low light, and the reflections and post-processing effects like volumetric fog are all looking really quality stuff as well. And the surprising part is that all of this is being achieved on last-gen hardware, which is a testament to the developer’s understanding of the many nuances and intricacies of the target hardware.
And that brings us over to the topic of release. Unsurprisingly, Antimatter Games hasn’t revealed any concrete release dates at the moment, and the only confirmed platforms at the moment are PC, PS4, and Xbox One. While the game would obviously be playable on current-gen platforms as well, no native versions have been announced just yet. But judging from the short trailer and the available information about the game, it seems fair to say that I.G.I. Origins is still some ways from release, and a release in the ballpark of 2023 is looking like a good guess at the moment. But an important point to note is that we don’t have a lot of knowledge about the game’s development, and considering the fact that the game switched developers midway through – the game could end up being pushed to 2024 if it may come to that.
Either way, we have really high hopes from I.G.I. Origins. Antimatter Games seems to have a great understanding of what made the original games tick, and we really hope to see it build a sequel that brings back this beloved series. There is a great void for sandbox-styled stealth shooters in today’s gaming landscape – and I.G.I. Origins can use that to its advantage and end up becoming much bigger than anyone might have anticipated. Here’s hoping it does just that, and then some more.
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