Black E3 2005 Preshow Report

The guns are the stars of the show in Black, a new first-person shooter from the team behind the first two Burnout games.

Black is an upcoming first-person shooter from Criterion Studios, the developer of the Burnout series. Specifically, the team behind Black is responsible for the first two games in the Burnout line. The dotted line between Burnout and Black seems simple when you hear Criterion describe it. The main idea is to bring forth a simple, addictive thrill ride. But instead of crashing cars, Black has you shooting apart everything in sight. Though the game was only shown in video form at an Electronic Arts event prior to E3, Criterion's concepts do sound like they hold a lot of potential.

The main focus of Black is to make the simple act of firing a gun exciting. The team is going about this in a few different ways. The first is that the guns are the true "stars" of the game, so special attention is being paid to the way they look, fire, and animate for reloads. The Criterion producer on hand used the term "gun porn" to describe the feel the team is going for. The game will also put a heavy focus on physics and environmental damage, as each bullet is sure to do some sort of damage to something on the screen, whether it hits its intended target or not. Death animations are also said to be getting some serious attention, with a specific focus on making enemies die in cool, action movie sorts of stuntman scenarios. It sounds like you'll never leave an environment looking anything like it looked when you came in, so leaving behind a trail of destruction is another one of the team's key points.

All that sounds interesting, but, unfortunately, it's all just talk at this point. The game was shown very, very briefly on video. So aside from seeing some environmental damage--such as a car blowing up in a fairly unspectacular way after some rounds were pumped into it--the footage looked fairly standard, showing off a submachine gun, assault rifle, rocket launcher, and hand grenades. The footage seemed to have a fairly stable and smooth frame rate, despite a good deal of onscreen action, both from the constant explosions and from what appeared to be artificial intelligence-controlled allies.

Though the focus will be squarely on gameplay, Black's story sends you to Eastern Europe as part of a special group of maniacal military operatives that's assigned to fight terrorism. Black is a single-player adventure only, so it won't contain any sort of multiplayer component.

Black's concepts are certainly intriguing, so it will be interesting to see if the game ends up being as cool as it currently sounds on paper. A brief playable version of the game will be present at E3, so we'll have more on Black from the show floor. The final product will ship for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 in the first quarter of 2006.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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