TOKYO--Announced and shown in trailer form for the first time back at the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Konami's sci-fi-themed first-person shooter, Coded Arms: Assault, is on the show floor at this year's Tokyo Game Show in playable form. It's an early version of the game, for sure, but its smooth looks and interesting sense of style appear to set it apart from other games in the same genre.
The Coded Arms series began on the PlayStation Portable as a fairly basic first-person shooter that took place inside cyberspace. As you fought, you'd see Matrix-like effects that give away the fact that the whole scenario is unfolding inside a computer. That same style is used in Coded Arms: Assault. Each time you fire a shot, hit a target, blow something up, or destroy an enemy, you'll see what are presumably bits of code flying off of everything. When you destroy an enemy, he falls to the ground, but a glowing outline of the standing enemy remains, hanging there for a few seconds before fading away.
Despite the setting, Coded Arms: Assault does have a sort of real-world look to it. The one-level demo being shown at TGS opens in what appears to be a Japanese subway terminal, then takes it out onto the street, where you'll fight some more. Before long, you dash up a fire escape and find a man with garbled computer Matrix effects for a head. Hitting the circle button decodes him and ends the level--and the demo.
Throughout the demo, we encountered two types of enemies. The standard soldier has a sort of pointy head and is armed with a basic assault rifle. The second type is a larger, melee-focused enemy that looks a bit like an ape. He rushes at you, swinging his arms when he gets close. To fight off the enemies, the demo gives you a pistol and an assault rifle. You can zoom in for a better aim on the action, and you can also toss grenades. Rather than track your health, the game measures your life force as the strength of your "connection." You can also acquire protection, which is the game's equivalent of armor.
On the control side of things, Coded Arms: Assault uses a very standard button setup. The analog sticks are for moving and looking around, the triggers are for firing and tossing grenades, the face buttons control things like reloading, opening doors, and jumping, and the D pad changes weapons. All in all, the controls are just fine.
This game is powered by the Unreal engine, and the visuals have a good, weighty look to them, though the frame rate and load times are in need of some optimization. Of course, with the game not hitting stores until 2007, Konami has plenty of time to fix all of that stuff and deliver on what looks like a pretty promising first-person shooter.