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Fallen Earth is an MMO with a post apocalyptic setting on the planet Earth. A large scale global nuclear war has broken out after a virus has infected majority of a population somewhere in Asia. Because it caused unusual muscle contractions that made people dance, it was named after the Hindu goddess Shiva. Only 1 in 100,000 people have managed to survive this event. Now the land is desolated, death is in the air and mutants roam free.

You enter the world of Fallen Earth as a clone that was brought back from the dead by a LifeNet scientist. She is the one who is helping you escape the Hoover Dam complex, which incidentally is a cleverly disguised tutorial in the shape of your very first quest. Unfortunately the original functional facilities have been destroyed by Alec Masters, who was later hanged by one of six game factions named CHOTA (Children of The Apocalypse). And so you are actually a clone without the customary given gift of immortality, since your DNA is damaged. From the very beginning you learn that you are actually dying. As you manage to escape the Hoover Dam, the next active mission given to you is all about stopping your demise. The entire game plot and the storyline unfold from here on.

Let’s start by saying that Fallen Earth plays as a hybrid MMO and shooter survival sandbox game. Fans of Fallout series will likely feel at home here in many ways. For one, the world is enormously vast and missions are plentiful. There is a huge amount of gear, most of which appears to be crafted by players and the crafting systems themselves are incredibly sophisticated. It appears that a lot of thought has gone into wanting to create a rich and deep game world. The number of skills, mutations, recipes and character customization options is so vast that it’s quite likely that no two characters in this world will ever be exactly alike.

The shooter aspect of Fallen Earth is the actual combat system and it deserves a lot of attention, because it has also been given a lot of design consideration. You can choose to fight with melee or ranged weapons, each with their pros and cons. For example, a dual pistol wielding character will soon discover that he is very vulnerable to damage once an enemy manages to get up close. On the other hand, fighting with a piece of wood gives you some defense boost. Another thing worth mentioning is that damage inflicted on enemies is based on your aim and affected part of the body. Head shots will do more damage, and so skill is a huge part of Fallen Earth gameplay if you are the competitive type.

As an MMO, Fallen Earth promises to deliver all that is pretty much expected from a solid title of this genre. There is a great deal of land mass to explore, a huge number of interesting non-traditional parcel quests and a very intriguing storyline wrapped around this and holding it all together. A huge part of NPC dialogue has been voiced over and voice acting is surprisingly well done for an MMO. Another thing of note is that all NPCs have been given personalities, which seem to correspond to their appearance. For example, an evil mercenary who will be assigning you that assassination quest will boast a Mohawk and a piercing or two…

While on the topic of physical appearance, as mentioned earlier no two characters really resemble each other. This is a result of a multitude of customization options. How do 26 hair styles in 32 possible colors sound? Now add a ridiculous number of tattoos, body painting, piercing and facial features, including ability to age your character into the mix. It seems that the game directly benefits from all of this, as mentioned earlier NPC models are also very unique and detailed in every way possible.

There are no traditional classes in Fallen Earth. The entire game is built around a skill based system, which allows you to become whoever you like by spending points in those skills you wish to advance most. Traditional magic and spells are replaced by something called mutations, which also give many branches to explore. You can be a healer, damage dealer or a buff expert, although the names used to describe these specializations are more along the lines of what sci-fi fans would prefer.

Getting on the topic of science fiction, the entire world has been given a very detailed treatment from both visual and auditory angles. As you explore the world of Fallen Earth you will indeed feel that you are walking the planet after a terrible disaster has struck. Abandoned scorched vehicles and human bodies, unwelcoming landscapes and ruined structures are a constant reminder of what time and space you are currently living in. Eerie music and sound effects make it much more immersive. There is no question that a lot of effort has gone into creation of an atmosphere that melds well with the plot and the circumstance.

Another specific aspect that sets Fallen Earth apart from what is out there in MMO world is its aiming to target a niche of mature players. The game is rather Mature, which means there are numerous references to drugs, alcohol and plenty of offensive language in NPC dialogue. It seems like a good thing, because it adds realism to a harsh and punishing world. It certainly makes the interaction with this world seem as real as it should in every way.

Because the world is so large, getting around on foot is not a very feasible option. And so players will have a number of ways to speed up their journey. This is a part where something odd happens; one has to decide if they prefer to ride a horse or a vehicle. Apparently game supports both science and nature skills, so choosing one of these will in a way define your personality as a character even more. After all there is noting like being a cowboy in a post apocalyptic world… and you even get to feed and stable your horse!

As you progress in your journey, your actions and quest action choices will determine how you align with each of the six main factions. These are:

CHOTA [Chaos] VS Enforcers [Order] Vista [Nature] VS Techs [Science] Travelers [Self] VS Light Bearers [Society]

It is interesting to note that in game these are represented as a wheel (think of a six slice pizza pie), and so it is easy to see visually which factions are direct opponents of each other. So you may score alignment points with CHOTA by performing a chaotic mission, but doing so will effectively make you lose alignment standing with Enforcers, the representatives of order. Benefits of increasing your standing with a faction include, but are certainly not limited to, opening new quests, storylines and being able to access certain towns and merchants located in those towns. There are also specialty skills and mutations that become available as you gain ranks within a specific faction.

Player VS Player conflict happens in specifically assigned areas and you will be notified when you enter them. This is where a whole other dimension of Fallen Earth opens up. Tactical maneuvering around the landscape and real shooter skill combined with dedicated character development creates an interesting breed of PvP. Assuming lag will not be an issue, one can expect a very competitive kind of play here. It is safe to say that the winner will not likely be decided by just a roll of the dice alone.

Fallen Earth is shaping up to be an impressive sleeper title of the year. As of writing this, most game’s bugs have been squished and are continue to be eradicated at a speedy pace. Lag seems to be the only outstanding issue and appears to only affect largely populated areas, like major towns and other hot spots. Hopefully this will be resolved soon, so that players can enjoy the game as originally intended.

I have to say that although it is an incredible game, it is most likely not the right game for just anyone. Developers of the Fallen Earth world appear to be aiming at a very specific niche of mature science fiction fans. If you have enjoyed playing games like Fallout or are into science fiction genre, chances are you will appreciate this game a great deal. After a short initial delay from original September 15th date, it is scheduled to release next week on September 22nd, 2009. You can preorder Fallen Earth now from Direct2Drive at the following URL and doing so will grand you early access to the game as well as a free mount for your character: