Hands-on with Oni

We get to play the finished build of Bungie's third-person action game, Oni.

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Gathering of Developers held a press event yesterday in a downtown San Francisco hotel to showcase a number of the company's forthcoming games. Arguably, one of the most anticipated titles at the event was Oni, the third-person action game from Bungie Software.

Hardy Lebel, one of the designers of Oni, was on hand to demonstrate the game for us. He loaded up only a few of the game's 15 levels in order to show off the complex fighting system that Konoko, Oni's main character, has at her disposal. In the game's default setting, the left mouse button is mapped for punching, and the right is mapped for kicking. Using a combination of these buttons and the direction Konoko is facing, you'll be able to pull off a huge amount of offensive, defensive, and counter moves. Pressing the punch button repeatedly, for example, will result in a three-punch combo. Punches and kicks can also be strung together to form complicated combinations that are useful for taking out multiple enemies at once. As she progresses to later levels, Konoko will learn special moves like flying uppercuts and spinning roundhouse kicks, some of which are clearly influenced by fighting games like Street Fighter II. Like in Street Fighter II, you'll have to perform the correct combination of button presses in order to successfully pull these special moves off.

Other button combinations cause Konoko to slide, roll, flip, and disarm enemies. She also has an arsenal of eight ballistic and energy weapons. The entire game, especially the interface, is clearly influenced by anime. In fact, the opening cutscene and closing movie were hand-drawn by the same team responsible for Bubblegum Crisis.

It's also interesting to note that Bungie's Oni team will be making the move to Redmond, Wash., next week. When Microsoft announced that it had purchased Bungie Software, the Halo team was the first to move to the new Redmond offices, but the team working on Oni was supposed to stay in its San Jose, Calif., development studio until at least the end of the year. But since Oni has been done for quite some time, and Bungie won't be handling the port of Oni to the PlayStation 2, its work on the game is pretty much done and it was able to make the move early. Lebel said that Take-Two Interactive is holding onto the PC version of the game until the Mac and PS2 versions are completed, since it's easier to ship all three simultaneously than it is to do so individually. We'll have a full preview of Oni, as well as some brand new screenshots, next week.

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