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Planet 51 - PS3 - Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

Mankind would be surprised to learn that, somewhere in outer space, there’s a strange green species…that acts just like us. Modern homes, picket fences, summer barbeques – it’s enough to make you ask, “What planet is this!?” As crazy as it may sound, that’s just what happens in Planet 51, a new action/driving game from Sega. Based on the upcoming movie of the same name, Planet 51 is an unusual look at the way we perceive aliens – and the way they may perceive us.

Targeting the 6 to 10-year-old demographic, the game is very lighthearted. You can hop into vehicles and drive them, but you aren’t stealing them like in Grand Theft Auto. You can ram into police officers and upset their coffee break, but they won’t respond by setting up a barricade and attacking with deadly force. Instead, you are an alien with a considerable amount of freedom. Character interactions are a necessary part of the gameplay, which goes toward the story and the mission-based setup.

Planet 51

One such mission included a race against three others. The course was fairly basic and the vehicle speeds were unusually slow. But the difficulty was up there with any good racing game. Chances are the AI will be toned down for the final version. Right now, however, you have to fight with everything you’ve got in order to cross the finish line first. Otherwise it definitely isn’t happening.

By far, the vehicle designs are one of the coolest features of the game. The easy description: they’re a cross between UFOs and automobiles from the 1950s. A more complex description would outline the detailed shape of each vehicle, their lack of wheels (these are hover cars), and their intricate paint job. These semi-retro, semi-futuristic hover cars are capable of hovering four or five feet into the air. It’s unclear what benefits you’ll receive from hovering that high, but it’ll be interesting to find out.

Due to enter our atmosphere this winter, Planet 51 looks like an interesting take on mission-based driving. Keep an eye out for the movie this November, and stick with GameZone for more on Planet 51 in the coming months.

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