E3 2002: War of Monsters impressions

Check out our impressions of Incognito's upcoming drive-in monster-based brawler for the PlayStation 2.

After some extensive hands-on time, we've thought of the perfect analogy to describe Incognito's upcoming War of Monsters: It's 3D Rampage done right. The game puts you in the sizeable shoes of several drive-in-styled movie monsters and has you duke it out across a series of deliciously interactive cityscapes. You can pick up buses, throw them into buildings, and watch them crumble. There's an actual hard body physics model driving the game's graphics, which, when coupled with a nicely designed and feature-filled fighting system, leaves you with the impression that the game has the potential to be quite special.

War of Monsters was built with the same core tech as Twisted Metal: Black, and it shows. Its physical capabilities are showcased much more efectively in War of Monsters, though, as is evidenced by all the things that fly, break, roll, and crumble as a result of your interactions with them. The arena on display at E3 is teeming with life and filled with detail, and it runs incredibly smoothly. All sorts of crazy things happen onscreen--crowds scatter under your feet, traffic veers wildly, and volcanoes erupt. It all looks like a theme park, and it doesn't feel static in the least.

Four monsters were playable in the E3 demo: a giant gorilla, an enormous mantis, a huge robot, and an enormous, flame-headed Aztec idol. A handful of others were blacked out in the selection interface, and it was hard to tell from the outlines what they'd be. The producer conducting the demo told us a little about some of them, though. There'll be a dragon and a large Godzilla-like lizard, among others, in the final game. Each of the four playable creatures had a bunch of cool attacks that were both unique and satisfying to use. The fighting system that Incognito has implemented allows you to perform a surprising variety of moves, all of which are easily accessible and intuitive. You have light and heavy attacks, and you can execute different actions by pushing the analog stick or directional pad in different directions along with the buttons. Pressing down in combination with a heavy or light attack will result in an uppercut of sorts, which throws your enemies up in the air. You can follow up with different attacks or just wait until your enemy hits the ground and pounce on them. Each monster also has built-in projectile attacks, which you can use to poke away at your opponent's health. You can auto-target your enemies by holding down both the L1 and R1 buttons simultaneously, which makes these ranged attacks much more effective. Grabs are also possible, and they're quite devastating when you toss enemies into objects in the environments. It's possible to throw your enemy into the wall of a skyscraper and have it collapse on him. You can also pick up all sorts of things--such as commuter buses, light poles, rocks, and the like--and use them to assail opponents.

There's a cool camera system currently in place that already works marvelously well. The levels are fairly large, so it's quite likely that you'll be far away from your opponents regularly. When this is the case, the game will utilize a split-screen mode to allow both of you to function independently. When you get close enough, though, it snaps right into a full-screen mode, with varying camera perspectives depending on the context. If you're close to each other, you'll be treated to a side view. But as you get further away it might change to a behind-the-shoulder perspective. It all seems to work very well, and it looks just as good.

We're quite excited about this one, to be honest, and it was a great surprise. We'll have more on it for you very soon. Until then, see the fruit that E3 has borne.

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