Given the softography of YUKE'S Co., Ltd., its current project seems especially fitting. And we're not talking about the slew of WWF games the developer has cranked out for the sake of THQ's bottom line--its latest seems to have more in common with its hardy Dreamcast brawler Sword of the Berserk than anything belonging to the realm of sports entertainment. Announced today by publisher Eidos Interactive, Eve of Extinction--the YUKE'S game in question--blends a simple premise with some truly promising gameplay systems that have a great potential for depth. Basically, the game takes the form of a free-roaming 3D brawler whose starring character has access to a staggering arsenal of weapons, each with its own fighting style and special abilities.
An exposition of the game's narrative is in order. In the near future, a huge multinational conglomerate named Wisdom Inc. has its hands in many technological disciplines essential to humankind's continued success as a species. The company is very good at messing around with genes, as it happens, allowing it to genetically engineer food and people, as well as dabble in cloning. It turns out, however, that Wisdom's goals aren't all philanthropic--way down on the company's spreadsheets lies a dirty secret, one whose implications could spell doom for humanity. It turns out that Wisdom has learned how to fuse the human soul with a weird kind of crystal, and the result of the fusion--a weapon it calls "Legacy"--is pretty deadly. This is where Josh Calloway--the game's genetically enhanced protagonist--comes in. After getting hip to Wisdom's true intent, the former loyal employee decided to distance himself (both spatially and ideologically) from the vile corporation, and he took his girlfriend Eliel Evergrand (ex-Legacy researcher) with him. During their escape, however, Eliel was captured, and--in a most disturbing turn of events--Wisdom used her soul to power the most powerful Legacy weapon to date. Thus is Josh embroiled in a quest that pits him against the agents of Wisdom Inc. in an effort to stop a madman's designs and rescue his lover.
Apparently, Josh is armed with a Legacy weapon as well, and from what we've seen, it has the ability to change into many different hand-to-hand weapons, including swords, nightsticks, axes, katars, and staffs, among others. Each weapon form will bring with it a unique fighting style that essentially changes the way Josh's combo attacks perform. In an interesting twist, most of the weapon forms that we were shown behind closed doors at E3 seemed to have been based on those used by the characters in Soul Calibur. This also extends to the fighting styles Josh adopts when thus armed. When we made the Legacy take the form of a huge two-handed sword, for instance, it looked just like Nightmare's foul blade, and it caused Josh to fight in the same plodding-but-deadly style. Other nods to the fighting classic include Ivy's whip sword, Voldo's katar, and Kilik's staff.
Aside from affecting the way the character fights, the changes in form bring with them other types of abilities. Firstly, each weapon form will have a special attack that's associated with it. What we saw at E3 consisted of a generic energy attack, but Eidos assures that a variety of attacks will be possible on top of that, including the ability to stop time or summon forth an antigravity field. The way these attacks work is interesting--you start them by pressing the R3 button on the PS2 controller (that is, the right analog stick), and you then trace over a design that appears onscreen using the stick. At this point, the mechanic is as tricky as it is interesting--it's by no means easy to pull off, but as its product is intensely powerful, it really shouldn't be easy. The weapons' other functions are said to be puzzle- and movement-related. While we haven't seen any evidence of the former, the E3 build of the game allowed us to pole-vault onto a fire escape from the street using our staff. Eidos reports, at any rate, that you'll be able to change your Legacy into a new form upon defeating each of the game's bosses.
As mentioned before, all this will go down in a fully 3D real-time environment from a third-person perspective. The environment on display at E3 consisted of a large urban scene, complete with an underground subway area, a ground-level area several blocks in scope, and a series of rooftops. The environments, at that early stage, seemed decently detailed, and they were full of interactive elements, including signs, trash cans, newspaper bins, and the like. Littering the environment, as you'd imagine, were all manner of business-suited thugs ready to engage in some fisticuffs. While there wasn't really much in the way of level objectives, the early environment did allow us to get a feel for the game's systems and its potential pacing. At this point, the game is very fast-paced, with throngs of thugs coming at you at any given moment. For what it's worth, the enemies seldom seemed to attack in groups of less than three, which made for some pretty challenging encounters. It would be unfair to report on the game's systems any further, however, as the build we were shown was admittedly early, and thus will see some major tuning before its next milestone.
Graphically, the game seemed very clean when we saw it. Eidos is promising much in the way of fancy particle effects when the game goes gold, and we saw a some of that, albeit in primordial form, at E3. The Legacy's special-attack effects seem like they're anxious to reach the point where they'll bleed onto the screen in a flurry of mad pyrotechnics.
As is evident, there is much about Eve of Extinction that hasn't been defined yet. At this point, though, the game seems very promising, and we really do have a lot of faith in YUKE'S as a developer. It obviously knows how to make this sort of game, in any event. Eidos is planning on letting Eve of Extinction out of the gates this fall, so stay tuned to GameSpot for more information as it develops.