E3 2001 Hands-on: Dropship

Sony unveils Dropship in playable form at E3. We bring you our hands-on impressions.

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Since its original unveiling, Dropship has improved gradually, particularly in the graphics department. In fact, the game has advanced far enough to warrant an E3 showing by SCEE. For those unfamiliar with the game, its concept is rather simple. It's a mission-based game that requires players to transport troops to the front lines in a dropship equipped with missiles, machine guns, and other assorted weapons. The developer has created massive worlds composed of miles of virtual territory, and players must traverse these vast landscapes and battle enemy ships along the way in order to accomplish specific objectives. According to Sony, the mission objectives range from direct shoot-'em-up combat and reconnaissance missions to more defensive objectives such as protecting the home base.

The control scheme is relatively complex, but it's pretty intuitive. The X and square buttons on the PS2 controller are used to accelerate and decelerate, respectively; the triangle fires the primary weapon; the circle button fires the secondary, more powerful weapons; R1 cycles through the arsenal of weapons; L1 cycles through targets; and the R2 and L2 buttons control the rudders that are used to strafe right and left. Usually, the gameplay pace is relatively deliberate, and this complex control scheme perfectly matches that pace.

Where Dropship does suffer is in the graphics department. The environments seem bare--they're sparsely populated with objects such as hangars, armored vehicles, and mountain ranges. Additionally, the developers chose to use a muted brownish color scheme in the level shown, which helps portray the desolate look of the world, but also gives the game a redundant, dull appearance. The dropships themselves also need some texture work at this point. Subtle nuances such as realistic rudder movement and particle effects in vapor trails are impressive, but the texture detail is lacking and the ship designs aren't very compelling. The developer plans to add more ships and land-based objects to the final game.

Dropship will be released early next year for the Sony PlayStation 2.

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