E3 06: Coded Arms: Contagion Hands-On Impressions

Coded Arms returns to the PSP in this brand-new FPS. We go hands-on at Konami's E3 2006 booth.

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LOS ANGELES--Coded Arms had the distinction of being the original first-person shooter for the PSP. It wasn't exactly a critical success, but it obviously did well enough that Konami is willing to throw some cash to turn it into a franchise, with both a new PS3 game, as well as Coded Arms: Contagion for the PSP. We first got a look at the game at Konami's E3 2006 press conference, but today we got to go hands-on with it for the first time.

The basic premise for Contagion is similar to the original Coded Arms. You're an elite, futuristic soldier inside a virtual-reality world. This time, you'll be taking down cyberterrorists, out to hack into military systems and steal vital data. You'll do this by first-person shooting your way through lots of different levels against all manner of gun-toting terrorists and nasty-looking bugs.

As we put our hands on the game for the first time, it became immediately clear that we were in for a familiar kind of experience. The demo level took place inside a rusty-looking enclosed environment, and around every corner came an enemy of some variety. The only specific enemies we saw in the demo were small bug creatures, large bug creatures, and relatively generic-looking soldier types. We were armed with a pistol, an assault rifle, and a shotgun, and all three weapons were fairly effective against the onslaught of baddies.

The game defaulted to what was arguably the most comfortable control scheme available in the original game, with the analog stick used for movement control, the face buttons used for looking around, and the D pad used for weapon switching. And for what it's worth, the game felt a whole lot like the first game. The action maintained a similar flow and pace, and even used a lot of the same puzzle scenarios and visual effects, like the computer code dissipation from destroyed enemies and objects. Whether this is totally indicative of the experience that the final game will have, we don't know. We just know that we got an awfully big sense of déjà vu from playing this demo.

Interestingly enough, the one thing that has been all but passed over is the one thing that was a big selling point of the original game: randomly generated levels. Konami has made no mention of them being in the sequel, and the demo we saw didn't show a hint of random generation. Considering how bad some of the randomly generated level designs in the original game were, this could be a true blessing.

Coded Arms: Contagion will make its way to stores sometime next year. We'll bring you more on the game as it becomes available.

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