The financial goodwill engendered by the hit Pixar superhero film The Incredibles has already spawned one video game inspired by the movie. At a recent press event, we got to sample the next game set to feature the family of crime busters, THQ's The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, a game that picks up directly where the film ends.
At the end of the film, you may recall, the Incredibles family was returning from Dash's track meet when all of a sudden a huge drill came roaring from out of the earth, tossing rocks and dirt everywhere. A new villain, it appeared, was on the loose, and it was up to the Incredibles to once again don the spandex to beat this new evil back down into the hole it crawled out of. In Rise of the Underminer, the end of the film is the very beginning of the game, as Mr. Incredible and his crime-fighting pal Frozone take on that dastardly mole man the Underminer, who's intent on destroying the surface world and driving its citizens underground.
Incredible and Frozone made for a formidable pair of do-gooders in the movie, and their potent powers and effective teamwork are the very basis on which Rise of the Underminer is set. As you progress through the game, you'll be controlling both heroes as you look to take down the Underminer's legion of robotic cronies. Teamwork is an essential part of the game, whether it be you controlling one character as the CPU handles the other character or whether it be you teaming up with a real-life pal as together you take down the bad guys. Rise of the Underminer makes it easy for a second player to either join or leave the action in progress, and once he or she leaves, the CPU once again takes control of the secondary character.
Part of the fun in the game is determining which hero is best for taking out a particular enemy. Mr. Incredible is all about pure, unbridled power, as he wades through enemies through sheer muscle alone. Frozone, on the other hand, is sleeker and faster thanks to his ice-based powers, and even though he probably can't bench as much as Mr. Incredible, he can still certainly pack a punch. In fact, against certain enemies or traps, Mr. Incredible will be basically ineffective, as instead he'll have to depend on Frozone's chilly powers to come to the rescue. A host of robotic bad guys, for example, makes for a ripe target for Frozone's freezing spray, which slows down the evil automatons long enough for Mr. Incredible to get in there to bust some bolts. Frozone is also deft at traversing otherwise impassable ravines by quickly whipping up an ice bridge, thus letting the duo cross gaps it might not otherwise be able to cross.
As you progress through the game--and take down scores of enemies in the process--both heroes will collect experience, and both will eventually earn upgrade points that can be applied to each superhero's powers. Mr. Incredibles power set includes plenty of punches and throws, while Frozone's are entirely based on his ice-based powers. Upgrading Mr. Incredible's punch power, for example, will add more oomph to his blows, while putting a point toward Frozone's ice-slide ability will let him take out longer strings of opponents. Both heroes will also have super attacks as well, which are powerful offensive moves that let you take out a number of opponents at once or let you inflict massive damage to level bosses. You'll need to use these at just the right moment, however, as the chances to earn these super attacks are relatively few and far between.
In addition to your standard run-and-gun levels, Rise of the Underminer will also include a number of combat arenas that will find you taking out a set number of bad guys. Should you go down in combat, your hero will temporarily "take a knee" (c'mon, superheroes don't die!) before returning to the action to kick more metallic butt. It's all designed to keep the action fast and the game moving forward. And so far it's looking to be a pretty successful formula.
Visually, Rise of the Underminer is turning out to be a treat, thanks in part to a collaboration on enemy design between the development team and the pack of geniuses at Pixar. There are plenty of fun and fantastical cartoon effects to the combat as well, including some loopy knockout animations for when bad guys get clobbered by Mr. Incredible. We also just couldn't get enough of Frozone's ice-slide attack, which has the skinny superhero skating through the air on temporary slides made of ice. On the audio front, the dialogue between the two main characters exhibits that same repartee that made the relationship in the film so enjoyable to watch, while also providing the player clues on how to progress in each level.
In all, Rise of the Underminer is shaping up to be an exciting action game based on a beloved animated film--one that may be aimed at the younger set but will likely be enjoyed by more than a few adults out there as well. We'll be bringing you more on this game as details become available, in addition to providing you with a full review when the game is released in November. So be sure to check back for more.