E3 06: Too Human Hands-on
Silicon Knights' newest game on the Xbox 360 exhibits a lot denser, faster action than the company's previous games.
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LOS ANGELES--We had an opportunity at E3 to sit down with Silicon Knights director Denis Dyack and get a demonstration of his company's newest game, Too Human. Silicon Knights is perhaps best known for its critically acclaimed game Eternal Darkness, as well as the GameCube port of Metal Gear Solid. In Too Human for the Xbox 360, the company takes somewhat of a departure from its earlier work--this newest game will feature a lot more dense and fast-paced action. Dyack was quick to point out that Too Human will still be very closely tied in to its story and have a lot of those elements built in, but the two levels we looked at today focused entirely on the combat in the game.
In Too Human you take the role of a cybernetically enhanced warrior, fighting for the side of humans in a war against robots and sentient machines. The game gives you a third-person view of the hero, who uses swords and guns against hordes and hordes of enemies. Most of the enemies we ran into during the game were robotic goblins that went down easily against sword strikes and concentrated gunfire, though we also saw some other small mechanical enemies that were called dark elves and a couple of giant mace-wielding trolls that were very resistant to standard weapons fire (though you can jump on their backs from behind and quickly kill them by stabbing into their heads).
The fun in the game comes from using your weapons to build massive combo strikes, not unlike games such as Devil May Cry. You can use your melee weapons to toss enemies in the air, juggle them with your guns, or jump up after them and continue striking them in midair. The game's controls are easy to pick up--you simply use the left analog stick to move, the right analog stick to strike out with your melee weapon, and the two triggers to fire your guns. Doing combos is as simple as pointing around with the analog sticks, which lets you swiftly warp around from enemy to enemy while flashing some steel. The game's animation is very dynamic looking, which encourages you to try different moves with the control stick to figure out different weapon combos and moves as you try to string together massive combos. The more you strike enemies with your weapons, the more a combo meter in the bottom right-hand corner builds up. Eventually you can press the button that it shows to unleash a special attack. One of these was a dramatic-looking vortex above the hero's head that sucked in nearby enemies and exploded them. Another was a lengthy and beautiful sword combo that you could use to cut apart a whole swath of enemies if you got surrounded.
Silicon Knights promised a very dynamic and flexible campaign with role-playing elements. As you make your way through the game, you'll be able to pick up tons of different kinds of weapons, like a mass driver gun, swords for dual wielding, shields, maces, and polearms. The combat in the game changes depending on the type of weapons you have equipped, and you can even equip cybernetic enhancements to specialize your character. We noticed that switching to a polearm gave the hero a much wider range on his melee attacks (although the strikes were slower), and he was able to make sweeping strikes and telescopic pokes. It's possible to use the staff to pogo into the air off of enemies, and Dyack noted that internal playtesters often challenge themselves to stay airborne for minutes at a time in that manner, using the game's combat system. Aside from changing up the experience with different implants and weapons, Dyack noted that enemy placement and types will vary each time you play the game, adding to the replayability factor.
Perhaps what's most unique about Too Human is that the camera is dynamically controlled. You will almost never control the camera, which automatically sweeps back and zooms in to show the best action. This certainly gives the game a more cinematic look, as special attacks are shown off in the best manner--from our play time we didn't notice the camera to be much of a hindrance, aside from sometimes wanting to look around to get our bearings. But considering that the levels we saw were basically massive stone and ice caverns with extremely high ceilings and a lot of volume, we can't imagine the camera ever getting stuck in a bad spot with all that room to maneuver around.
The graphics in the game look great at this point, with nice sharpness on floor and wall textures in the caverns, as well as some intricate detail on character models even with upward of 15 or so robots and enemies onscreen. Too Human uses a heavily modified Unreal engine, so as you'd expect, the lighting in the game looks great, as colorful trails punctuate your sword slashes, and tracers from your automatic pistols point a ray of death at whatever you shoot at. The frame rate in the build we played definitely could use some work, though, but with the game not slated to ship until the holiday season, there's time for the Silicon Knights team to tweak all of that.
We enjoyed our brief time playing the Too Human demo at E3, and its easy-to-pick up and dynamic combat engine should make it a very attractive game for action fans. The ability to juggle and shoot enemies out of midair and some of the other aspects of the combat will remind some of Devil May Cry, but overall, the game's got plenty enough of its own style. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information on Too Human as it becomes available--it's currently slated to ship this holiday season on the Xbox 360.