Hands-on: Godai: Elemental Force

We spend some time with 3DO's elemental action game.

We visited 3DO for a look at its upcoming action game, Godai: Elemental Force, and had a chance to play through some of it. The game's story follows a young Asian warrior named Hiro, who must master the magic and martial arts of the godai, or "five elements," in order to battle the dark ninja, Akunin, and avenge the death of his parents. Possessed by the elemental guardian spirit that left his father's body upon his death, Hiro was rescued from death at Akunin's hand and raised by by Sho, a warrior sworn to protect the elemental guardian.

You take control of a 22-year-old Hiro as he sets out to master the godai arts and take on Akunin. The single-player campaign offers 16 levels, which include spirit trials for the various elements--earth, wind, water, and fire. Each trial will challenge you to defeat a specific elemental-based boss who will pass on his power once he's defeated by Megaman. As you'd expect, enemies and bosses with an affinity for a specific element have a vulnerability to its opposite. Once you have completed the four main trials, you will face the trial for the fifth element, void, as well as the final battle with Akunin.

Gameplay in Godai has you working your way through 3D environments, taking out multiple enemies with a combination of melee, sword, projectile weapons, and elemental magic attacks. An auto lock on targets the nearest enemy and lets you attack them while circling. Switching between weapons and attacking is done quickly via the shoulder buttons. You will find a total of 24 weapons in the game, although you will be able to go into each level carrying only two. You will find more weapons as defeated enemies drop them. The unique twist to combat comes when you're jumping--by holding down the button, you will be able to perform the glide move, which allows you to jump extremely high and float to the ground slowly. When mixed with the dash move and projectile attacks, the glide move becomes an important component of combat. The various elemental abilities that Hiro comes to master also come into play as he becomes charged with the element for a short time after using magic. Charging with elements is not only useful for fighting enemies but is also important when traversing hazardous areas, like charging with water when going through a fire area to keep Hiro's health stable.

The game is shooting for a cinematic feel, borrowing elements from anime and martial arts films. The glide effect during battle definitely calls to mind old-school kung fu movies as Hiro performs impossibly high leaps. The graphics engine offers a clean, detailed look and fixed camera angles. Liberal use of lighting highlights the various locations--for example, a volcano spewing lava in the background of one level casts a flickering red hue to the area. The various areas that Hiro battles his way through sport a clean, Asian-influenced design that suits the tone of the game. The build we saw had some frame-rate issues but hadn't been optimized yet--the target is a constant 30 frames per second Hiro handled well and his attacks were easy to perform--timed presses of the attack button performed combos. And you can execute many kinds of attacks, including weapon-based and melee attacks.

Godai: Elemental Force is planned to ship this fall.

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