Death by Degrees Hands-On

You knew Nina could handle herself in a fight. But did you know she's also a pretty good sniper?

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TOKYO--Nina Williams is cold-blooded. Tekken fans have known that for years, even though fighting games aren't really known for character development. That's part of the reason behind Death by Degrees, Namco's new mission-based secret agent game starring Nina.

The version of the game on display at the 2004 Tokyo Game Show puts Nina on a ship, in broad daylight, which is crawling with enemies. Stealth isn't really on the menu, so you'll take on several enemies at once with a combat system that's much deeper than the previous attempts to bring Tekken characters into side-scrolling environments, namely the Tekken Force modes found in a couple of previous Tekken games. Nina has a handful of combos that she can execute, and upon landing a couple of hits, a combo counter appears onscreen along with a timer. As long as you keep hitting enemies, the counter won't count down and end your combo. Long combos earn you skill points, which can presumably be used for upgrades.

It's a long fight against many foes, but the demo eventually brings Nina to a high perch on the ship, where a sniper is stationed. After beating the stuffing out of the gunman, Nina grabs the rifle and does a little shooting of her own. For this section of the game, you get the traditional circular sniper scope view. The game doesn't appear to be too big on locational damage, as shots to the chest will put enemies out just as quickly as a head shot.

Nina might be dressed up in a handful of somewhat skimpy outfits that aren't exactly proper for hand-to-hand combat, but that doesn't slow her down a bit. The game runs at a pretty good speed and seems to maintain a smooth frame rate, even when taking on multiple enemies. Nina moves well, with an arsenal of offensive maneuvers that are new animation, not just recycled Tekken attacks. She also has some fast evasive options that let her roll out of the way of danger.

Death by Degrees is currently scheduled for North American release in February 2005. We'll have more on this game as it becomes available. For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of the Tokyo Game Show 2004.

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