24: The Game Update

We get an updated look at the E3 demo of the new action game based on the popular Kiefer Sutherland TV thriller.

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Back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, we got to go hands-on with 24: The Game, the upcoming action title from Sony Europe's Cambridge studio that's based on the Fox TV thriller 24. The game's development is involving just about every important creative force behind the popular series, since its writers are penning the storyline (set between seasons two and three of the show) and Kiefer Sutherland and the rest of the cast are lending their likenesses and considerable voice talent to the project. With a new story that fits into the series' continuity and the appearance of lots of familiar characters, 24: The Game is shaping up to be an intriguing novelty piece for diehard fans of the show.

It's also shaping up to be quite a solid action game with a surprising amount of variety, if what we've seen so far is any indication. As noted in our E3 report, the primary component of the gameplay is third-person shooting, which features a solid auto-targeting system that you can move from one enemy to the next with a simple flick of the analog stick. After zeroing in, you can then fine-tune your aim for easier headshots and so on. There will be some degree of stealth to the game--you'll be able to move bodies out of the way so enemies don't see them, and security cameras will occasionally stymie your progress. However, we were told that running and gunning will be an equally viable tactic if that's what you prefer.

The game will also feature a number of minigame-style sequences, the most unique of which is an interrogation game that has you varying your questioning style (between presets like "calm" and "aggressive") in order to keep a suspect just within the comfort zone that will keep him talking. Other minigames that will be scattered throughout the game will have you attempting to decrypt PDA or hard-drive information or using triangulation to pinpoint cel phone signals. Finally, there will be some driving sequences that will focus on having you either escaping a situation or trying to chase down a suspect for capture. While it seems obvious that Sutherland's Jack Bauer will be the primary playable character, you'll also get to play as Tony, Kim, Sean, and other characters from the series as certain situations dictate.

Whatever you think of the show itself, you have to admit that 24 has featured some of the most novel production tricks in recent television history, what with its concurrent action threads and real-time storytelling. The Cambridge team is doing its best to make sure that 24: The Game captures as much of that innovative feel as possible. The action will pause on a particular character with a description of what the character's up to, just like in the show, and during some intense action sequences you'll get secondary angles showing off explosions and other fun stuff worth looking at. Finally, the game's 100 missions will each operate on an independent time limit that looks much like what you've seen in the show, and apparently when all those missions are taken as a whole, the length of the game will in fact work out to just about 24 hours.

The team is aiming for 24: The Game's action to last roughly--you guessed it--24 hours.
The team is aiming for 24: The Game's action to last roughly--you guessed it--24 hours.

SCE Cambridge's last efforts, such as Ghosthunter, haven't been slouches in the graphics department, and it looks like 24: The Game won't break that trend. The recognizable characters that we've seen so far are quite close to their real-life counterparts, which is always nice to see. There are plenty of physics-driven objects in the environment to interact with, which will lend a lively quality to the shootouts. It also looks like a lot of that stuff is breakable; we saw one section of the demo where Bauer shot out separate sections of a dirty window in a dilapidated office building, and each piece of glass removed let in some more really nice-looking high-contrast sunlight.

Licensed games have traditionally carried a bad reputation, though in recent years some games have certainly counteracted that trend a bit. We think the odds that 24: The Game will join that elite few are pretty good--it looks like it will provide the right mixture of solid, varied action and the series' trademark production elements to please both hardcore fans of 24 and those just looking for a good action experience. The game is due out in November, so stay tuned for more in the coming months.

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