Over the weekend we received our copy of WARP's long-delayed D2 and had a chance to play it for a few hours. While the game is technically impressive and sports high-production values, D2's gameplay unfortunately doesn't stray too far from that of the original D, leaving us a little disappointed.
Following WARP's quirky animated logo, players are taken directly to a menu screen. Interestingly enough, the opening movie is an option rather than a prerequisite to playing the game - a good thing, since it resides on the game's fourth disc. The opening movie centers on a flight carrying Laura, the game's heroine. A seemingly normal flight is disturbed when some unknown assailants hijack the plane. Despite the chaos, a gnarled old man chants dark incantations in the back of the plane. David, the man sitting across the aisle from Laura, sees a vision in Laura's compact, a gift from her mother, showing a meteor hurtling toward the plane. The meteor strikes the plane. The next thing Laura knows, she's in a cabin with a woman named Kimberly in the snowy depths of Canada.
From here, players are given control of Laura. Laura's lost her memory and, thus, must perform a variety of little errands for Kimberly. Many of these errands involve running from one end of Canada to another to pick up various items, something seemingly taken from Zelda 64's lacking overworld. As Laura runs about, she is randomly attacked by an array of plant-like mutants. Battle is conducted in a first-person hybrid of Quake and House of the Dead, requiring players to move Laura's Uzi's sight around the screen and plant ammo on the attacking monsters. In addition to fighting monsters, Laura can also hunt for food with a sniper rifle, bringing a whole new meaning to the "survival" aspect of survival horror.
The game's indoor locales take place in a first-person perspective as well. However, except in a few instances, Laura can only move her gaze to predetermined locations. From these locations players can move Laura's sight slightly letting her spot other points of minor interest. This is a little frustrating, however, as many times you can see items and not figure out how to look at them to pick them up.
D2's graphics are impressive throughout. The characters and environments are lavishly textured and detailed, and the character animation is impressive considering that it's not motion-captured. Additionally, all of the extensive character voices are nicely lip-synched. In addition to the voices, the music subtly enhances the air of mystery.
While the production is great and all, you can't skirt around the fact that D2 is currently shaping up to be an extremely linear, gameplay-poor adventure game like the original.