Catwoman First Look
EA's new action game, based on the summer comic-book flick, looks like it has claws.
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On July 23, Warner Bros. will release Catwoman, an action flick based on the popular DC Comics character. On the same day, Electronic Arts will roll out a game based on the movie for all three consoles and the PC. We recently got to take a look at an in-development version of the game and were surprised--really--at how well the game is turning out. Why were we surprised? Well, movie-licensed action games don't exactly have the best reputations, but Catwoman is genuinely looking quite cool, because it draws inspiration from recent games like Prince of Persia and brings some pretty unique combat mechanics to the table.
Catwoman, the game, will follow the storyline of Catwoman, the movie, almost entirely. The game's 23 levels will cover (and expand upon) every major location from the film. Catwoman has two basic methods of attack. She has a whip that she can use to snare enemies, knock radios or guns out of foes' hands, and even grab and fling objects in the environment. You can also hold down a shoulder button to make Catwoman crouch in a catlike pose, and in this position, she'll attack with a bevy of capoeira moves. (Capoeira is a Brazilian dancelike fighting style. Think Eddy Gordo from Tekken 3.) The combat controls are pretty unique in that you attack with the right analog stick rather than with buttons. This gives you the benefit of being able to attack in a full 360 degrees, which gives the combat a fluid feeling.
Catwoman will have a lot of other powers besides her considerable fighting prowess. Chief among these powers is her "cat sense," which gives her cues about things in the environment that can be interacted with. Objects that can be grabbed with the whip, switches that can be pressed, and more will be surrounded by a soft glow to help you out. Furthermore, if you switch to first-person perspective to look at an important item (such as a switch), your view will zoom right up close so that you know exactly what you need to do with the item. Like any good cat, you'll also be able to see in the dark if you manage to turn the lights off, which will give you a big leg up on enemies.
By racking up points with fancy attack combos, you'll also accumulate points that you can cash in to purchase new abilities for Catwoman. For instance, one safe landing ability will let you fall from great heights without taking damage (just like a cat landing on its feet, natch). Another buyable ability is the wild cat mode, which Catwoman can enter after powering up a special meter. Wild cat mode was described to us as being similar to bullet time in Max Payne in that you'll be able to move much faster than your enemies to deliver more-powerful attacks.
The developers want their Catwoman to "unseat Lara Croft" as the sexiest video game character ever, and from what we saw, she just might do it. The Catwoman model is extremely well modeled and animated--not to mention that she looks and moves an awful lot like Halle Berry. Amusingly, if you let the controls idle for a set amount of time, Catwoman won't simply go into an idle animation. Instead, the game will cut to what the developers have unofficially dubbed the "ogle cam," which cinematically shows off Catwoman's model and moves. The game's levels have a gritty urban look that's enhanced by impressive effects, like specular mapping and light blooming. In the sound department, Halle Berry has voiced all the dialogue for her character in the game, which will certainly add a little extra oomph for fans.
Catwoman looks like it's shaping up to be quite a solid action game, which ought to help bust the stereotype that all movie-licensed games are, well, crap. Given all the ways you can enhance Catwoman's powers throughout the game, as well as the fact that you can replay all previous levels to both search for hidden items and unlock bonus content from the movie, Catwoman ought to offer a whole lot of replay value for action fans. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.