We had a chance to check out an updated build of Incog's upcoming PS2 brawler War of the Monsters at Sony's press event today. The build of the game featured a new level and new monsters, and it gave us a look at the game's opening cinema. The opening cinema definitely helps shed light on the game's premise. The opening CG sequence was right out of the cheesy sci-fi movies from the '50s and '60s. The intro detailed the invasion of Earth by a pack of hubcaplike flying saucers. True to the spirit of the sci-fi genre, the invasion is repulsed--thanks to the use of a devastating new weapon--just in time to avoid the total annihilation of life on the planet. Unfortunately, while a movie would end on the triumphant image of the saucers crashing into Earth and the remains of their occupants oozing out, the intro keeps going and shows the effects of alien viscera on the environment. Throw in what appears to be a mad scientist experimenting on various animals, and you have yourself a working plot.
Following our glimpse of the intro sequence, we had a chance to check out a new level that was a kitschy version of Las Vegas. The city was large and fully destructible, just like the levels we saw at E3 2002. The game's graphics engine offers some slick implementation of physics in the deformation of the various buildings and objects in the levels, and we discovered we could use elements of the environment to our advantage. For example, we dislodged a giant bowling ball that rested on top of a sign and sent it rolling through the level. Once the ball was on the ground, we were able to move it through the level and use it to reach a power-up that had been hovering just out of reach.
We tried out the Cyclops character, who was basically an eyeball suspended in a bipedal-shaped energy field. The creature was fairly powerful and featured some wonderfully annoying attacks--its long-range taserlike attack was a great way to nail an opponent, thanks to its reach. It also featured some well-done animation that helped give it some personality--its victory pose consisted of removing and then dribbling its eye like a basketball.
The game's control is intuitive and offers a nice amount of variety. You have two attacks, light and heavy, and they differ depending on your distance from your opponent. Special attacks will be performed by combining button presses. Throws are fairly easy to pull off and very useful in close quarters. You'll also be able to pick up objects in the environment and either swing them like a club or throw them at your opponent.
Judging from what we've seen so far, War of the Monsters is shaping up to be one to watch for on the PlayStation 2. Its impressive graphics, high frame rate, and accessible gameplay show a lot of promise. The game is currently slated to ship in January. Look for more soon.