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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