previews\ May 17, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Soldner - Secret Wars - PC - Preview 2

E3 2003 - First Look


I’ve been looking up and following Solder for some time now. A friend and fellow BF1942 player introduced me to the screenshots a couple of months ago, and I was really excited to see it in action at E3. Well I was not disappointed, and it’s turning out to have some additional things that I wasn’t expecting.


Soldner is an MMO action title, similar to an FPS but with a 3rd person view for the majority of the time. Everything in the world is interactive, so you’ll quickly be hopping in and out of vehicles like jeeps, tanks, choppers, etc. with just a click of a button. You will also be able to paratroop out of them and even do things like pick up vehicles and take them where you want them by helicopter … or even drop them onto enemies for an unorthodox (but effective) technique. There will also be the ability to use a spy satellite which will allow you to see where your troops are, then create checkpoints and give orders based on enemy movement or positioning, so there will be an emphasis on team based gameplay. Add in some really awesome weapons like high-powered rifles and laser guided missiles … and you can bet there will be some explosive fun to be had. 


The maps are going to be massive, scaling 6000 x 3000km each for tons of gameplay and strategy possibilities. One of the really unique things that I saw with Soldner is in the damage modeling for the environment. For example, many past games that have been similar would have an entire building crumble when shot with a tank or take no damage at all, so snipers and whatnot always have impenetrable cover. In Soldner however, parts of buildings or structures will be blown away when hit revealing just that area. The rest of the game graphics are shaping up nicely, with some neat looking player models and a good dose of realism to the overall environment. Be looking for Soldner around October or November of this year. 


Spy Kids 3 – First Look




Now the cool movie hits the PC and GBA with one really unique new aspect …


I liked the Spy Kids movies. They were funny, well written, and had some really neat special effects. There is now a new movie in the works scheduled for July of 2004, the plot of which being that the two young bond style heroes are sucked into a video game. Well, Buena Vista will be releasing games for the PC and GBA based on this new film. Here’s the really cool part … the movie will be in 3-D, and you can bring your glasses home after the movie and play the game in 3-D as well on either the PC or the GBA.


On a really quick first look, the Spy Kids 3 game will be more of a 2-D platformer kind of game for both platforms. Both of them were looking good so far, with the PC version using the actual digitized likenesses of the movie characters in the game. One thing that I was really happy about with Spy Kids 3 is that you don’t HAVE to have the glasses to play the game, and it looked just fine without them. The 3-D modeling did look good though, and it’s coming along nicely.


Spy Kids fans … be looking for these games around the same time as the movie with the same name.


Disney’s ToonTown Online – First Look




Disney enters the world of MMORPGs with this new title for the PC.


I enjoy MMORPG games, but am really hesitant to let my 9 year old play them for the dialogue that happens many times or even the player’s names themselves. Disney and Buena Vista are looking to change that with a new MMORPG title called ToonTown online.


In standard MMORPG fashion, players are prompted to create a character consisting mostly of their look and clothing vs. 3000 different skills to try and figure out to help with ease and simplicity of gameplay for the youngsters. Players will venture into a big Disney world where they can meet up and go adventuring with friends or play mini games to stock up on jellybeans that buy more gags. That’s right … no weapons here folks. Instead, the turn based combat (also common to MMORPG games) is played out with squirt bottles, pies, and even dropping pianos on your opponent or even using a fishing pole to reel them closer for close up gags. There will also be emphasis on different gag styles, so you could still build a well-balanced party of tanks and support characters in a family friendly and non-violent kind of way.


For you grown ups, don’t let the young appearance fool you. ToonTown Online contains the addictive elements of MMORPGs in an environment that won’t expose you or your kids to foul language, foul player names, or griefing (killing players and stealing their things) found in many other titles out there. This is all thanks to a consistent world monitoring and even a name registration if you decide to select your own instead of the ones that they have set up which have to pass trough approval.


ToonTown Online is looking fun, and you can expect to see it here in the next few months.


Shadow Ops – First Look


PC / Xbox live


An FPS title that emphasizes what being in the middle of an actual military skirmish is all about.


Being the FPS fan that I am, I was like a kid in a candy store with a lot of the games that are going to be coming to both consoles and PC’s in the next year. I was really excited to see Shadow Ops for PC, and got to sit down with the developer and watch the first 10 minutes of the actual game in play. I can honestly say that I have never said “Wow” or “Gosh” that many times in 10 minutes before in my life.


The scene opened with troops dropping from a Blackhawk and into a Syrian terrorist camp. The visuals of bullet tracers and running enemies, explosions, and sounds that erupted as soon as the main player and his squad came under attack were almost real enough to be frightening … and they were all around. There were no shortages of rag doll effects in many of the games showcased at E3, but Shadow Ops actually almost took it to a new level using their own creativity and the UT2003 engine. When the player turned the first corner, a man of a rooftop assaulted him. A quick shot to the head and he tumbled down onto the top of a dumpster … then rolled down the slant and crumpled onto the ground. Detail in the physics were a top priority for the team, and it really showed with that and some other examples like a man being hung on a fire escape by his bootlaces after tripping off the roof when shot in the leg. Lights and many other objects will be fully destructible, and the squads were completely AI controlled and moved intelligently.


This will also be porting to the Xbox and Xbox live, and both the PC and Xbox versions will have multiplayer modes for up to 16 players at a time. If you like FPS or military games, you’ll want to get this one in the summer of 2004 … trust me.


Magic : The Gathering Battlegrounds – Hands On




MTG : Battlegrounds takes the card game into more of a full flowing action game once again.


The Magic: The Gathering card game has picked up a huge fan base over the years, and whenever that happens, it’s a pretty safe bet that a game will be in the works for it. Well, we’ve seen the direct port of the card game online recently for PC, and a while back they released a PSX version that was more of a full movement casting and action game. There is now an Xbox version in the works to be released in November that moves towards that full action style again, but stays true to the card game a little better this time around.


You start off by selecting a hero, then enter into an arena to duel it out with monsters and magic from the card game. The character you select is fully controllable, and can even attack creatures coming in to try and kill you. Mana usage is necessary here as well, but actually works based on a meter that will fill up by collecting gems that appear or get dropped by dying creatures, or ones that generate mana like the Llanowar Elves card. Mana is then spent to summon the monsters, magic, and enchantments that are found in the popular card game, and and each creature will move independently and do what they see fit at the time like attacking your opponent or defending you unless you play a specific card like a Giant Growth which will force them into action. When you begin, you get sort of a “starter deck” to play with, then will begin unlocking more and new cards as you progress through the game.


The graphics of the new MTG title are looking really good, with some great looking and menacing familiar creatures and spell effects. MTG : Battlegrounds will also be online ready, and new cards will be downloadable for updating and building your deck the way you see fit.


T.H.U.G. (Tony Hawk Underground) – First Look


All consoles


A newly re-vamped Tony Hawk game is on the way, but he won’t be in it as much.


Tony Hawk has been the king of skateboarding for a while now, even back in 1987 when I was doing it. He’s had a long line of successful Activision games, and there is a new one which doesn’t have a definite release date set yet called T.H.U.G. that will actually place more emphasis on the player than Tony Hawk himself … and you won’t be skateboarding all the time either.


You have the create your own skater mode again, and this time you can actually take a digitized picture of your face and add it to the game as you skate around and do a lot of other things that you didn’t do in past Tony Hawk titles. The trailer that I saw of the game had you doing things like driving and racing in high-speed Japanese sports cars, and even a level that had a character climbing hand over hand across a suspended power line looking like more of a 3rd person action title.


This new Tony Hawk looks to not only be as popular as the originals, but also to begin expanding on the franchise and doing something a little different this time around.


Trinity – First Look


PC / Xbox


Trinity looks to bring an action packed story and some neat abilities to the FPS market.


Activision has quite a lineup going for the next for the next year, and this includes some really good RPG titles. One in particular is called Trinity, which is the story of an enhanced human hunter and vigilante named the Nightstalker who’s got some really unique powers at his disposal. Rather than rely on straight run and gun action, you will also be able to utilize special powers such as Flashtime, which slows down enemies and warps time around you to actually dodge bullets or make some pretty incredible evasive or offensive maneuvers. Flashdash is the exact opposite, speeding time up to run past enemies or make you a lot harder to hit.


Graphically, the game is looking really good. The flash effects and various vision modes looked fantastic … including one that allows for thermal sight and will help to mark enemies or find hidden areas in the surroundings and gives a good possible strategy building gameplay setup. There is only a scheduled single player mode at the moment, but even you multiplayer buffs will get a kick out of this one.


Be looking for Trinity around winter of 2003.




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