The Incredibles Hands-On

THQ shows off a near-final version of its upcoming action game based on the forthcoming Pixar movie.

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THQ showed off an updated version of The Incredibles, the upcoming third-person action game based on the forthcoming Pixar film of the same name, at its press event this evening. The game, developed by console vet Heavy Iron Studios, will use the film's story as a launching point for an adventure that will feature five playable characters and will weave in and out of the main narrative of the movie. The near-final version of the PlayStation 2 game on display tonight showed off eight levels and highlighted three of the game's playable characters: Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Dash, their young son, each with gameplay unique to them.

The bulk of the eight levels focused on Mr. Incredible, the powerhouse of the trio, whose gameplay is a mix of traditional platforming elements and combat. Mr. Incredible's size and raw power don't lend themselves to much finesse, as evidenced by his levels, which were a balanced mix of platforming and beat-'em-up action that made smart use of his strength. In addition to his wide array of attacks, the barrel-chested hero is not above getting his hands dirty and using whatever's around him to knock his foes about. As a result, you'll find that you can also make use of your environment to take out villains. You can use anything from boulders to doors you've busted through to take out evil as the occasion demands.

Whereas Mr. Incredible's levels offer a nice, old-school feel that has you causing copious amounts of damage, Mrs. Incredible's levels feature distinctly different gameplay. Although Mrs. Incredible (Elasti-Girl) lacks Mr. Incredible's brute strength, she's hardly lacking in the powers department. Her ability to stretch to fantastic proportions makes for a different play experience altogether. Besides the obvious perk of being able to win any yoga championship without busting a sweat, Elasti-Girl's powers lend themselves to ranged and area attacks against foes. In addition to being able to stretch and hit enemies from much farther away than Mr. Incredible, she can perform attacks that cause damage to foes around her by whipping her arms in a circle. In addition, her platforming elements are focused on her ability to reach and swing to new areas.

Young Dash offers yet a third type of gameplay that revolves around his speedster abilities. Unlike his parents, the young hero can zip around at superhuman speeds. Dash's levels offer another change of pace in the game since they are designed to highlight his unique abilities. While the core game will be roughly the same across all the platforms it's slated to hit, there will be some unique features on each console. The Xbox version of the game will feature a downloadable level via Xbox Live.

The presentation in the game is shaping up nicely and matches the movie's look pretty closely. The graphics do a fine job of translating the film's computer-generated visuals into playable form. The character models for the trio of heroes we saw matched their CG incarnations perfectly. The same held true for many of the locales we saw, although some of the areas offered extensions of set pieces seen in the movie that were fleshed out for the game. The core graphics are complemented by special effects that enrich the visuals. The audio is a good mix of voice and sound effects and includes a good collection of tunes to frame all the action.

Based on what we've seen so far, The Incredibles is shaping up to be an engaging experience even without its license. The varied gameplay is fun, and the visuals are looking sharp. The addition of movie footage and the ties to the film's story are a good complement to the solid design under the hood. Platforming fans and anyone looking forward to what will surely be another feather in Pixar's cap will want to keep their eye out for the game. The Incredibles is currently slated to ship this November on the GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. A Game Boy Advance version of the game will also hit at the same time. Look for more on the game soon.

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