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Think I spelt that right...

Just played the demo. There's good stuff and bad stuff.

The good stuff: the folks behind this are clearly thinking cinematically. There's been a lot of thought put into the camera work, the music is excellent, the choice of setting is visually impressive. It's interesting to note the DVD-style commentary, too - when you first start the demo, you're given a short scene with the 'writer and director' of the game (or at least, his avatar) as he explains what is about to happen and how the storyline is fluid and will be influenced by your actions. The gesture-based interaction is quite nice, too. The game automatically selects a config based on your system spec, which is good.

The bad stuff: all technical, basically. The frontend is very unpolished - granted this is only a demo and the game is not yet finished, but there's simple errors like spelling mistakes in the autoconfig screen. And once again we see a third-person game let down by the dynamic camera... when I step out of the diner, I run in three wrong directions before I finally spot the taxi parked nearby. The interface, while nice, has its shortcomings; there are two sinks in the opening room, one out of order and one working, and it took me a couple of tries to figure out that of the two identical icons presented at the top of the screen, one corresponded to the left sink and one to the right one. To be fair, the left sink icon was on the left and had a left-moving mouse gesture, while the situation was reversed for the right side. Provided they differentiate things like that it shouldn't be too much of a problem, but I'm not sure how they'd handle things like selecting a book from a bookcase.

Also, things are pretty low-poly. Maybe I've just been spoiled by HL2, but I might have expected things like normal maps to be in play. Oh well.

I've only played through it once so far so I've not really tried out the dynamic story stuff... but it is nice to see that I can do what I think is the 'correct' thing to do and the game will either let me do it or show me why I can't in a sensible way. No invisible walls or "That doesn't work."

For the curious, the sequence I took was this: I tried the window, but I couldn't get out because it was barred. So, acknowledging that I was going to have to walk out past the cop, I washed the blood off my arms and went out. I got to the door when the waitress stopped me; turns out I'd forgotten to pay my bill. Walked back to my table, looked at the recipt, and dropped a couple of bucks on the table. Headed out. At this point their dual-view thing kicked in and I could see the cop starting to walk towards the bathroom, so I ran around looking for a way to get away - turns out my place is too far to walk to, so I find a taxi and leave in that.
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I was infact going to do a post on this myself as i've been playing it since last friday when it turned up at my door [grin]

One of the best things about the game, apart from the story which is pretty cool, is that while you might think you are playing a movie, unlike say the FF series, you really do feel part of the game. The gesture-based system helps this as you feel like you are the character and your interaction matters. There is also the 'track and field' system where you have to push the left and right arrow keys to do the animations or actions, this varies from the moping of the blood in the demo to trying to keep one of the characters calm as she deals with being in a confined space.

However, the bit I most enjoy is the "Physical Action Reaction" system (or PAR), which you dont get to see in the demo. This is where the real interaction comes into play. When you hit a part where PAR comes into play your ability to react properly basically determins in some instances if you live or die. It works by using the arrow keys and the 8,4,6,2 keys on the keypad (default config anyways).

Its a pretty simple system, in the middle of the screen 2 circles appear broken into 4 arcs of varying colours, as the arcs light up you have to push the correct key or keys in order to perform the action correctly. Its also not random either in action sequences, the key presses do infact relate to what your character does on screen and leads to some pretty impressive action sequences you really do feel a part of.

The low poly aspect of it doesnt really matter imo, its a game which gets by by looking good enuff, instead if hooks you with a story line and inventive interface, something many games which are graphically better lack (HL2 while it had physics didnt really engage me story line wise and was for the most part just another FPS).

The camera you get used to, the ability to swap views is pretty handy as is the useage of the duel or triple split screen. Its only annoyed me once, a scene a bit into the game where cinematically splitting the screen 3 ways looked good but made natigation a bit tricky.

All things in, this is one of the best game and inovative games I've played in some time where things like gestures are used properly and you really do feel part of the action. If you liked the demo you should probably buy the whole thing, its certainly worth the money imo.

And now to wait for DoW:Winter Assult to be released [grin]

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