E3 2002: Battle Engine Aquila preshow report

The first close look at Lost Toys' sci-fi first-person shooter is coming at E3.

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While Battle Engine Aquila was announced at the end of last year, very little has been seen of the game to this point. We'll get the first good look at this first-person shooter from European developer Lost Toys at Infogrames' E3 booth. The game takes place after catastrophic climactic changes trigger flooding that turns the world into a series of islands. The surviving nations fight among themselves to lay claim to the precious dry land.

In a plot that seems heavily inspired by Japanese mecha anime, you play as Hawk Aquila, an adolescent hero who's swept into the conflict to pilot the Battle Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world. The Battle Engine is a futuristic tank that's as capable in the air as it is on the ground. Naturally, it's also heavily armed and armored, so the challenge comes in taking on large numbers of enemies in what's essentially a planet-wide shootout. The missions give you the opportunity to turn the tide of battle as the opposing sides face off. Some dynamic tactical decision-making comes into play, as you shape the direction of each battle by choosing where and how you launch your offensive.

It's when the Battle Engine is flying that you can really appreciate the game's expansive, photo-realistic outdoor environments. Even though the island nature of the game's setting means there's never too much distance to a flat horizon, everything in view is quite detailed, including rolling terrain and lots of trees and structures on the ground. Rapid-fire missiles leave behind nice contrails, and the explosions are as dramatic as you'd expect they'd be. Combat is the heart of the single-player game, but when you tire of shooting up AI-controlled tanks, there is a multiplayer mode to turn to. The multiplayer lets two players compete in split-screen multiplayer set-piece battles.

Battle Engine Aquila is scheduled for release late this year. We'll have more details on the game from E3.

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