Second Sight Impressions

We meet with David Doak of Free Radical Design to check out its <i>other</i> game, a third-person action adventure recently signed by Codemasters.

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We just got back from a meeting with David Doak of Free Radical Design, where we got to take a look at the first playable PS2 build of Second Sight. Recently signed by Codemasters and scheduled for release on all current-generation consoles this fall, the game is a third-person action adventure in which you'll assume the role of John Vattic--a regular guy who, after being experimented on in a laboratory, awakens from a coma with psychic abilities but absolutely no memory of who he is.

The first thing that struck us about Second Sight was that its visual style is identical to that of the TimeSplitters series. In the first level we were shown, Vattic was wearing only a pair of white boxer shorts and was covered in scars, bruises, and suchlike as a result of the extensive tests conducted on his body. In other levels, we saw Vattic fully clothed, and, in the case of the "flashback" level in which you'll play through events that transpired before the experiments, he was basically just a regular guy.

The first level we were shown was set in an animal laboratory that Vattic was attempting to escape from. Since the level will be one of the earlier ones in the game, Vattic's psychic abilities were quite limited at this point, but he was already able to use telekinesis on various objects to great effect. Psychically pulling CCTV monitors off their mounts and hurling them at enemies was one of the first uses for Vattic's abilities that we were shown. He was then able to call a fallen enemy's weapon to his hand without actually needing to go and pick it up. Other good examples of how telekinesis can be employed that we were shown included picking up and throwing enemies and using a freestanding notice board as a shield against police gunfire. It's worth noting, at this point, that you'll have a psychic energy bar alongside your regular health bar at all times, although the psychic energy recharges at a rate that, according to Doak, means you'll rarely have to worry about it.

Targeting objects with telekinesis will work in exactly the same way as when you target things with a weapon in Second Sight. Suitable objects are highlighted as they enter your field of vision, and then it's simply a case of cycling through them for the one you want. Then, if you're using a weapon, you'll manually tweak the aim to target specific areas as you see fit. Once you have an object under your control, you'll move it around using the right analog stick while continuing to use the left stick for your own movement. Objects in Second Sight will be interactive in plenty of other ways, incidentally. In fact, part of our demo showed Vattic accessing other people's computers to acquire information from their e-mails, in addition to checking out other areas of the current level through CCTV cameras.

Most of the levels in Second Sight will be possible to complete in a number of different ways, so it's possible to employ either stealth techniques or firearms--or a combination of the two. Vattic had plenty of conventional stealth moves available during our demo, including being able to lean against walls, lean around corners, and crouch behind boxes. He also had a number of stealth-based psychic abilities. The "charm" mind trick, for example, will allow you to pass by enemies as if you were invisible, but it won't have any effect on CCTV cameras.

The "astral projection" technique, on the other hand, will allow you to leave your physical body somewhere safe so that you can wander around the rest of the level in a ghostly form that is able to pass safely through laser grids. It can also flick switches, and later on, it can possess enemy bodies. At one point during our demo, Doak used the astral projection ability to possess one of two enemies who were standing guard in a corridor. He then started a fight with the other one before leaving to return to Vattic's physical body. By the time he made his way to the corridor again, both of the guards had taken care of each other. Another nice sequence we were shown saw Vattic attempting to pull a CCTV camera from a wall, which, by the time it was hanging by a thread and sparking, had attracted the attention of a nearby guard. This distracted the guard and allowed Vattic to pass by unnoticed. Other abilities you'll have at your disposal in Second Sight include a psychic heal, a psychic blast attack (which looks like something from The Matrix), and a grab from behind that lets you use humans as shields.

Before the end of our demo, Doak decided to show us a flashback level entitled Forest Gorge, in which you'll have to save the life of an army colonel who, as far as the latter of the game's two time lines is concerned, has already died. There were no psychic abilities to play with at this point, of course, and the level actually looked like something that could've been taken right out of a third-person TimeSplitters title. One neat touch we noticed during this level was that, when equipping a sniper rifle (one of 13 conventional weapons that will be available), a zoom view will automatically appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. This means that you won't need to hit a zoom button every time you pull the gun out, and it will afford you a much better view of your immediate and potentially dangerous surroundings than a conventional full-screen scope. At one point during the flashback level, we even encountered an astral projection of our future self from a previous mission (confused yet?), which Doak explained will happen on multiple occasions as you progress through the game. This will invariably ensure you that, as the player, you'll know more about what is going on than the character you're playing does.

Although Second Sight isn't currently scheduled for release before the fall, the game already looks incredibly polished and boasts an array of special effects that wouldn't look out of place in a movie release, let alone an unfinished game. The control scheme, based on what we saw, will be uncomplicated and intuitive. In short, we're very much looking forward to playing this game ourselves.

We'll bring you more information on Second Sight as soon as it becomes available.

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