Coded Arms Hands-On

Decode yourself a pulse rifle and blast away with Konami's new PSP first-person shooter.

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TOKYO--As part of the PSP display at the 2004 Tokyo Game Show, Konami is showing off an early version of its upcoming first-person shooter, Coded Arms. The game, which made its first official debut at E3 under the working title of "Exploration Based Horror FPS," is definitely looking pretty sharp so far.

The name Coded Arms refers to how you earn your weapons in the game. There are only two weapons in the one-level demon on display. You start with an assault rifle, but you eventually "decode" a pulse rifle by picking up the proper item or items. The game appears to have a sort of cyberspace feel to it--enemies sort of de-rez when you kill them and shots that hit walls leave behind a dancing energy trail. The weapons in the game are pretty standard. The assault rifle holds 60 rounds and is fully automatic. The pulse rifle fires energy bolts, and if you hold down the trigger, you can charge up a shot that'll take any of the demo's enemies out in one hit.

Though the PSP lacks the sort of true analog functionality you'd want from a first-person shooter, Coded Arms controls very well. The control disc is used to move your character and the four face buttons are used to look around. This makes circle-strafing pretty easy once you get the hang of moving around. The D pad is used to change weapons and toggle between crouching and standing, and the triggers are used for firing and jumping.

The demo level takes you through some sort of installation that's crawling with a few different types of enemies. The most common is a large insect-like creature that sort of looks like a cross between a scorpion and a robotic spider. These enemies do damage up close, but they lack any sort of range attack and are slow enough that you can circle-strafe around them and eliminate them. Enemy troopers are in a few spots, and these humanoids will fire pulse rifle blasts in your direction. The third type of enemy is a hovering creature that rolls up into a ball and flies at you. They can do a lot of damage in a hurry, but they make a pretty distinctive noise, so it's hard for them to catch you off guard. Enemies occasionally drop pickups, like extra health.

Visually, Coded Arms is probably the best-looking first-person shooter on a portable platform, but since the next generation of handhelds is just getting off the ground, it's a little difficult to judge it. One thing that's definitely worth noting is that the game runs at a pretty smooth frame rate, though the action could stand to be a hair or two faster. The sound in the game is pretty standard so far. Coded Arms makes use of some interactive music, so as soon as you get within range of an enemy, the soundtrack kicks up into high gear.

The Coded Arms demo may be short, but it's already looking pretty promising. Look for more on this game soon. For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of the Tokyo Game Show 2004.

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