24: The Game E3 2005 Hands-On Impressions

Jack Bauer comes to the PlayStation 2, and we've got detailed hands-on impressions from the E3 2005 show floor.

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24: The Game
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24 is just one of those shows that was seemingly destined for a video game representation. Given its popularity and propensity toward intense action, it was probably inevitable. 24: The Game is in development at Sony's SCE Cambridge studio, and 2K Games will be putting it out later this year. The game was playable on the E3 2005 show floor, and we were more than excited to get our hands on what could be one of the best licensed games of the year.

24: The Game follows the continuing adventures of counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer. Kiefer Sutherland plays Bauer on TV, and he's on board for the game, lending both his likeness and voice. The same goes for Elisha Cuthbert, who plays his daughter on the show. The story of the game will, like the show, revolve around 24 completely insane (seemingly impossible) hours in the life of Bauer, who must fight yet another threat against the nation (this one take place between the second and third seasons of the show). Unfortunately, the demo shown at E3 didn't give us much in the way of plot to soak in. It did, however, give us plenty of opportunities to kick and shoot the living hell out of bad guys, all for the sake of saving the nation.

The first level put us, as Bauer, in a burned-out building, tracking down a gang leader who has key info you need. You're armed with a pistol, and you find a number of gang members patrolling the area. What to do, what to do, right? After finding a proper cover point, we got a feel for the game's shooting mechanics by blasting the trio of gangsters wandering about the halls. You can lock onto a specific target by holding down one of the trigger buttons, and you can switch targets by tapping the right analog stick. The shooting itself is very straightforward, and we were able to pick up a couple of different weapons, including a submachine gun. Similar to some other shooters we've seen recently, when you lock onto an enemy, you can actually adjust the aiming reticle to get clean headshots.

The first level transferred into a second, completely separate level from another portion of the game. This was by far the most interesting of the three levels we saw, as we found ourselves in an interrogation sequence. Fans of the show know that half of what makes 24 are the scenes where Sutherland, doing his best to chew a hole in the scenery, angrily interrogates a suspect. This will be part of the gameplay. During interrogations, you're presented with a few different buttons, each of which represents a different tone in Bauer's interrogation. One sets him off into a rage, one puts him into a calming tone, and one keeps him generally neutral. On the right of the screen, you'll see a little meter that depicts how stressed a suspect is. On cue, you will press a button to get Jack to talk to the suspect. Your basic goal is to keep your suspect's stress level within a certain range in order to get him to cooperate. Your different tones move his stress level up and down, so you'll have to balance your statements in order to keep him in a cooperative mind-set. Once you wear the suspect down, you'll be able to "break" him by pressing the circle button at just the right time.

Once we finished interrogating, we were treated to a cutscene that very closely resembled the style of the show. We won't give away any story tidbits, but we will say that we were then transferred into a minigame of sorts, where we, as a computer tech from Bauer's counterterrorism agency, had to scan a number of buildings in the area for possible snipers. We did this by searching the floors one by one, looking for heat signatures via a satellite image. Oh, and in typical 24 fashion, we had a very limited amount of time to do it. Time, of course, was of the essence.

After completing that sequence, we got to check out a bit of driving. Here, Bauer was being chased by some unidentified bad guys in SUVs and vans, and it was up to us just to survive as long as we could until help--by way of an ally helicopter--could arrive. The driving mechanics basically involved pressing a button to accelerate, another one to emergency brake, and then one to reverse. The feel of the car, unfortunately, was not something we really enjoyed. The physics were overly exaggerated, and we found them to be less exciting and more annoying instead. It was just too easy for our car to bounce around all over the place and wreck into stuff. On the plus side, it didn't really seem like we were taking much damage, either. Hopefully this is one aspect of the game the developers are still tweaking.

We came away from our time with 24 pleased with the experience. Licensed games tend to be very hit or miss, but it looks like SCE Cambridge is actually putting a fair amount of effort into the game portion of 24, as opposed to just the presentation, which also is coming together very well. Save for a few gaffes here and there, like the driving sequence, 24 impressed us, and we're hoping to see more of the game soon. Currently, the game is due out at the end of the year. We'll bring you more coverage of 24: The Game as it becomes available.

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