This ties into Shattered Horizon's other distinct feature, which is "silent running" - a stealth mode and possible nod to hippie space-movie of old. In this mode you are slower and without sound, but you are also much more stealthy. What that means is that you're not immediately flagged up on the enemy HUD, and therefore might get the jump on less frosty players. I've not really found it to be of any use in my own play, but then I'm increasingly struggling to take on some of the ace players who inhabit the live servers, so perhaps I'm just not getting its best use.
That said, I have certainly been able to get some interesting kills with it - the HUD tags for enemies track behind cover, allowing you to follow them, and you can use silent running to negate that. I'm just not sure it's been developed enough to really impact on hardcore players, who seem to identify you in a blink and fill your fishbowl space helmet full of blazing lead. (I'm also a bit concerned that it leads to more friendly fire incidents.)
Aside from these unusual combat conceits, the highlight of the game is the level design. The arenas are all semi-realistic and clearly inspired by real space infrastructure. Hell, one of the levels is an adapted vision of the actual International Sspace Station which currently inhabits our skies. This stuff is like mana to me, as I'm a terrible space junkie, and I'm sure it's going to appeal to others like me. We don't get enough even vaguely "real" space games, and so this is a special rarity to be savoured.
What powers that design and enables the prettiness is a fairly high-spec 3D engine. You need a DirectX 10 card to even run the game, and the high-end settings make for formidable reading on the minimum specs blurb. I suspect the majority of PC gamers who are likely to play this do actually have said hardware, now, but it still seems like an odd choice in these spec-restricted times. It's also interesting that the game is PC only, because this is an odd occasion where I - a PC-centric gamer - feel as if this makes perfect sense as a console game. It's exactly the kind of shooter I'd expect to do okay on a console format.
The problem, then, is that this never feels like quite enough game. Despite the zero-G movement being fascinating, I don't think that actually translates into a combat experience that is any more interesting or rewarding that what we face in gravity-bound worlds. There's no single-player element, and although it's a genuinely fun game, with ideas you're not going to find elsewhere, it doesn't feel like there's enough depth in the game as a whole to keep me interested.
With more going on - space vehicles, classes, a wider range of equipment - it might have left me exploring for longer. As it is this is kind of game that neither soaks up my general leisure time, not leaves me yearning for a clan. I've enjoyed my time messing around with it, but I don't feel compelled to return to the game for more serious consideration, as I seem to with a whole bunch of other multiplayer titles.
I have to stress that there is a good deal I like about this game. I know that a small army of FPS-space folk are going to get a huge kick out of it, but there's simply not enough to genuinely recommend it to the world at large. There's too much else out there in the world of contemporary shooters for Shattered Horizon's unique game-world to deliver an essential purchase.