Colors Hands-On

We take aim at this urban combat game for the Gizmondo at 3GSM.

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The Gizmondo, a new handheld gaming system that has been developed by Tiger Telematics and operates on Microsoft's Windows CE, has gone on sale in Europe, with a US release to follow in the summer. Although the Gizmondo's unique design is equipped with native GPS and mobile data capabilities, it'll toe the line as far as its first generation of content is concerned to avoid scaring off potential customers. What could be more reassuring to 21st-century console gamers than a Grand Theft Auto clone? Colors is the Gizmondo team's answer to Rockstar's obscenely popular third-person action adventure series. It follows the lead of GTA: San Andreas by depicting a gritty, violent cityscape rife with turf battles and gang activity. In addition, it will supposedly augment the experience by leveraging the Gizmondo's Swiss Army feature set. We had a chance to "Crip walk" through the alpha version of Colors mean streets at a recent preview session, and we've now got our eye on this promising mobile thugfest.

Slow your roll.
Slow your roll.

In our Colors demo, we played as a young fellow decked out in full thug attire: white undershirt tucked into boxers, low-riding jeans, and unlaced Tims. We strutted through the drab streets of the city with a Desert Eagle pistol stashed in our character's belt. One button press whipped the gun out and brandished it Gangland-style, while another supplied us with an aiming cursor and zoomed the camera in over our character's shoulder. This aiming system worked very well in combination with the Gizmondo's analog stick, so it was easy to test our skills out by gunning down a few hapless gang members. The streets were also stocked with meandering prostitutes, but no other types of passers-by were apparent.

We were struck by Colors' incredibly smooth texture rendering and fast frame rate. The game seemed to be making the most out of the Gizmondo's mobile graphics accelerator, the NVIDIA GoForce 4500, and it was a vivid portrayal of the console's powerful technological base. Lots of details showed up on the character models, which also had some of the best animation we've seen on a mobile device. On a whole, the graphics hovered somewhere around PlayStation 1.5 quality; not quite to the level of the PSP, but probably better than anything on the Nintendo DS at the moment.

Colors will let you start your own local gang through the Gizmondo's GPS function.
Colors will let you start your own local gang through the Gizmondo's GPS function.

Colors touts a lot of interesting functionality that will be entirely new to the gaming experience, although none of it was ready for the demo. For instance, Global Positioning System satellites will purportedly help you mark and control territory for your gang and you'll be able to provoke wars or challenge rivals by moving onto their turf. Another neat feature has to do with trading, which will also make use of GPS, although it's unclear how at this time. If the Colors team can deliver on these ideas, they'll represent the most advanced location-based gaming yet.

We can't wait to see more of Colors, which looks as though it will be an excellent GTA-type action game for the Gizmondo even if the GPS features don't pan out. No release date for Colors has been announced for any region, but we'll keep you updated.

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