Xbox Live Arcade has seen more than its share of classic coin-op ports and converted board games in the last few months, but shooter fans haven't had much low-priced, downloadable fare to chew on since the release of the Xbox 360. Ubisoft will begin to rectify that situation later this summer with War World, a new third-person shooter coming to Live Arcade that will offer a casual run-and-gun experience that's more traditionally action-oriented than most of the titles you see popping up on Microsoft's download service. Visually, War World also resembles a retail game more closely than most Live Arcade games do, so depending on the pricing, this one may help bridge the gap between the ultra-casual titles and the $60 boxed games.
There's not really any pretense of story to get in the way of the blasting in War World, at least from what we could tell during our brief hands-on demo. You simply choose one of 10 battle 'bots--all of which vary widely in size, armor, weapons, and special abilities--and jump into one of the game's eight maps to start wrecking the competition. In the arcade mode, you'll play through a series of 100 levels, and you'll be assigned a new mech and put up against a unique combination of enemies at the beginning of each new round. You'll also be able to play a more casual, one-off skirmish where you can choose your mech and exercise more control over the opposition you face.
Combat in War World is self-explanatory, and anyone who's spent some time playing shooters the last few years will be instantly at home with the Halo-like controls. Each of the robots has different weapons, from standard machine guns to homing rockets and mortars (which you naturally fire in an arc). All of the bots will be able to use small booster rockets to dash and strafe, though, as well as an energy shield that will briefly guard against attacks. Each robot has a unique special ability, including jump jets that will let you get some decent lift off the ground, super speed that you can use to cross the map in seconds, or a stealth ability that turns you invisible and makes you disappear from your enemies' radar screens (at the cost of also blanking your own).
As you'd expect from an Xbox 360 shooter, War World will also feature online competitive multiplayer, though we didn't get to see this mode in action. Once you're online, you'll have four game types available: deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and bomb assault, the last of which involves having your team drop off a bomb at a predetermined point while doing your best to prevent the opposition from doing the same thing. The multiplayer mode is said to be limited to eight players online. There seems to be some good variety in the game's maps, too--we saw one open, outdoor arena in a jungle-like area with some ruined temples in the middle, and another map set in a city with rooftops and multiple building levels to jump between.
Don't get us wrong--we love the classic retreads and ports that frequently pop up on Xbox Live Arcade. But there are next to no action games of this type on the service so far, so War World may help tide over those shooter fans who are looking to blast a bunch of moving targets but don't feel like going to the trouble of loading up Gears of War. Ubisoft is targeting a late-summer release for War World, and no pricing details have been confirmed as yet.