Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Impressions

3DO's Armageddon-themed game was demonstrated at E3 2003.

We got a demonstration of 3DO's upcoming third-person action game Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at E3 2003. As the title suggests, the game is loosely based on the biblical prophecy of the end of the world, as described in Revelation. You'll play as the archangel Abaddon, trying to keep the Four Horsemen--War, Death, Famine, and Pestilence--from carrying out Armageddon.

The game begins just after the events of the rapture, which, according to Scripture, is the event where God instantly transports all the just and repentant up to heaven. The only humans left on Earth will have a seven-year period of tribulation during which they can choose whose side, God's or Satan's, they will embrace. As Abaddon, your job is to search out three mortals known as the Chosen. These three are born with the power to fight off the Horsemen and prevent the end of the world. The Horsemen know of the Chosen and are trying to hunt them down and kill them before they are made aware of their special power.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is similar in look and feel to Devil May Cry during its action elements. Abaddon's appearance is very gothic, with long hair, black leather clothes, and a long black trench coat. His starting weapons include a pair of powerful pistols and two large swords that can be used to hack off the limbs and heads of your opponents. In the E3 build, only basic combat moves were available, but 3DO representatives noted that acrobatic, wire-fighting moves (like those in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) will be included as advanced combos. As an archangel, Abaddon has the ability to execute superhuman maneuvers, such as using his swords to deflect bullets back at the enemies who shot them. You'll also collect the souls of the enemies you kill, adding to your power in a meter called "the wrath of God." Borrowing a page from Mortal Kombat, you'll even be able to perform some gory finishing moves on higher-level enemies such as bosses.

The game will include some slower-paced exploration elements that will allow you to interact with non-player characters to gain more background story and hints on the dangers lying ahead. You'll also be able to pick up bonus items to help you in your quest. In our E3 demonstration, we witnessed as Abaddon stepped out of the enemy-filled streets into a run-down apartment building. There we discovered a number of disturbing characters, from a twitchy, sputtering crack addict to a homeless man who suddenly became possessed with a spirit and started spouting off some of the Scriptures in Latin. There will also be some horror elements mixed in during the exploration portions, like the shadowy creatures we glimpsed running along a hallway behind us. We even found a room with a particularly gruesome murder--a Catholic priest crucified against a wall decorated with a bloody pentagram. Along with all the gore, story elements like these make it clear that Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is meant for older gamers only.

Currently, the game appears to be in a somewhat rough state, with many of the combat maneuvers and finishing moves not yet complete and the graphics looking a bit rough around the edges. 3DO is still aiming for Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be released at the end of this year for the PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, but the release could slip into 2004 if the game isn't ready. Hopefully they'll take all the time they need to polish this very promising game. We'll have more information on Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as it becomes available.

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