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D.I.C.E. Hands-On

We check out a near-finished PS2 version of Bandai's anime-inspired action game.


Earlier today, at a Bandai press event in San Francisco, we had an opportunity to get our hands on a near-finished PlayStation 2 version of D.I.C.E., which is scheduled for release in North America on September 20. Based on the popular anime of the same name, D.I.C.E. (DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises) is a single-player action game in which you'll assume the role of one of 11 different characters from the show, each with his or her own Dinobreaker mount. Dinobreakers are machines that can transform between vehicle modes and dino modes at the push of a button. For example, you can have a motorcycle that turns into a raptor.

Each of the Dinobreaker mounts has different melee attacks when in dino form, in addition to different handling characteristics when used as a vehicle. As a result, you'll almost certainly want to experiment with a number of them to find the one that best suits your playing style. You'll also have the option to augment your mount with one of a number of different bots, including ranged weapons that will circle around you until they're called upon to deal out some damage. Bot options available to us during our time with D.I.C.E. included lasers, lightning attacks, missiles, grenades, and a handful of others. All were different but extremely effective...and extremely easy to use.

Most of the six or seven missions we played lasted only a few minutes and required us to do little more than destroy a few waves of enemies. Our adversaries were quite varied in terms of their appearances and attack patterns, but given that it's basically impossible to miss your targets (you can hit multiple enemies simultaneously) when you use your ranged weapon, the only real challenge came from trying to avoid their attacks, which, even while battling the occasionally problematic camera, wasn't terribly difficult. Other objectives we had to complete included hitting inanimate objects a few times to unlock doors, knocking four large balls into something resembling the pockets on a pool table, and using our vehicle form to hit a number of checkpoints within a time limit. And all of these were about as difficult as they sound.

After playing through a handful of levels, we were confronted by an impressive-looking boss who occupied almost the entire screen and boasted a number of different melee and ranged attacks. The boss's patterns were easy to figure out, though, and defeating it didn't take more than a few minutes. D.I.C.E. is aimed at a relatively young audience, of course, so our pointing out that we found the game easy isn't necessarily a criticism. What's strange, though, is that both the game's racing levels that we checked out were far more challenging, and not in a good way.

The handling of the Dinobreakers we raced with felt pretty good, for the most part. We were able to hit a boost button on the straights and jumps, and we were able to hit the brakes to slide around most corners without too much difficulty. The main problem, though, was that we found the course designs to be a little confusing in places, and the only way for us to figure out which way we were supposed to go after an onscreen message let us know that we were going backward was to wait for our opponents to catch up to us so we could follow them. The other problem was that any time we managed to fly off the track and into oblivion, the delay that occurred as we were repositioned on the track was made worse, because for no good reason, we were then required to manually get our rider back onto the Dinobreaker. The races will no doubt be a lot easier once you know the circuits, but given how easy we found the rest of the game, we were a little surprised to find ourselves anything other than first across the finish line.

We'll bring you more information on D.I.C.E. as soon as it becomes available.

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