E3 2011 Impressions: The War of the Worlds

Paramount showed off two previously unannounced games at this years E3 convention. I went to the meeting expecting that they were going to show off poor movie based adaptions because, honestly, most movie based games suck. I was right that the games were based on Paramount movies, I was completely wrong in my assumption that they would look terrible.

The first of the two games I had a chance to see was The War of the Worlds. Developer Other Ocean, the guys behind Dark Void Zero (aka the good Dark Void game, not the bad one) and the satire Duty Calls , were in the room and showed off a couple of levels from the game. Before they did so, they talked a little bit about how they came to develop the game. They apparently got to choose which Paramount’s intellectual properties to make a game from, and then they decided to make a game that takes place during The War of the Worlds while drawing from the radio play, the old movie and the newer movie for inspiration.

Once they turned the game on the first thing I noticed was just how striking the game was visually. The game is set on a 2D plane, with multiple layers of effects going on. The developers said that there were forty layers of parallax effects. FORTY! This was evident by the number of things going on in the back ground and even occasionally in the foreground of the screen. The game levels they showed were colored mostly in black and grays, with the characters in color, along with alien walkers, lasers and explosions all lighting up the screen with different colors. The characters are apparently rotoscoped, with the main character being one of the art directors of the game.

The story is told through narration, they managed to get Patrick Stewart to do the voice acting. Between the setting shown in the graphics and always great voice work by Stewart, the developers have set up a fantastic atmosphere for the game that really does justice to the Sci-Fi classic. They mentioned before starting the game that they were fans of older platform games like the original Prince of Persia. This really shows when they started to play the game. The first part they showed was a park level, where the park was in ruins, with overturned tanks and robotic alien droids searching the area. They dashed from cover to cover trying to keep from being spotted by the droids, the developer was unintentionally spotted and blasted to ash by the search droid.

This game is obviously hard. Every movement requires thought and precise movements in order to keep the main character from being zapped. The developer playing dashed across this zone avoiding search droids and mines that would pop out of the ground, but I could easily imaging dying often in that same area. They said the game was very hard, and had extremely difficult achievements as well. There will be several checkpoints in every level though in order to keep the game from being impossible.

Another section of the game they showed off was the character trying to climb around a giant shield generator that also controlled the droids in the area, to plant explosives on it. This section showed off some very tight timing puzzles, as in a section where you had to choose the right moment to dash forward or die. They weren’t kidding when they said they were inspired by the old Prince of Persia style of platform games, this feels much the same way. Tight level design that punishes mistakes.

The game is expected to be a downloadable title. It looks like a great homage to the any incarnation of The War of the Worlds.

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