E3 06: Open Season Hands-On

We go to great lengths to scare hunters away from the woods in Open Season.

LOS ANGELES--The upcoming film, Open Season from Sony Pictures Animation is about a domesticated bear named Boog and a nervous deer named Elliot, voiced by Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher, respectively. Since it is a computer-animated family film, the obligatory video cross-platform action adventure game is in the works. But, despite the fact that it's a licensed game, Open Season for the PlayStation 2 looks like it could be a fun adventure for all ages.

We elbowed our way through the crowds in South Hall to get to the Ubisoft booth, where Open Season is playable on the PlayStation 2. The level we played was a rafting game where Boog and Elliot are on top of an outhouse floating down a winding river. The controls couldn't be simpler--you simply move the outhouse from left to right and avoid the large rocks and other hazards. Occasionally the door to the outhouse would open to reveal a distressed hunter. There were several jumps that yielded points when we hit them, and we caught an occasionally jumping fish for added points, as well. The short ride only lasted a minute or two, but it seems simple and rewarding enough to appeal to younger players.

We weren't able to play the other level in the game, but one of the Ubisoft representatives gave us a demo. The level revolves around frightening hunters. Of course, there's no killing in the game, but there's still a bit of combat. Boog can sneak up on the hunters in the forest or even stand still and make like a shrub when the enemy turns around. He can then hit the hunter to daze him, and then growl at him to scare him away. There are several different ways to scare off hunters, though, and they mostly involve recruiting the help of other animals throughout the forest. You can pick up a skunk and toss it at an enemy to daze him, pick up a rabbit and fling it at an enemy's head, or let a squirrel hop on your shoulders and throw nuts at hunters as you run around. The 20 stages are all supposedly nonlinear, and there are plenty of different ways to go about scaring off all the hunters.

In addition to the main single-player game, there are seven minigames that can be played by up to four players. Some examples of the minigames include a mine-cart race and log-rolling competitions.

Open Season is scheduled to be released before the movie this September. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more details and a full review when the game comes out.

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