E3 2002: Call of Cthulhu preshow report

Fishtank Interactive's upcoming horror-themed action game will be on display at this year's E3.

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Fishtank Interactive will be showing its upcoming PC first-person action game, Call of Cthulhu, at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. The game is currently in development at Headfirst Productions, the creator of Simon the Sorcerer 3D, though this new action game will be decidedly darker. Call of Cthulhu is actually based on the mythos created by renowned horror author H.P. Lovecraft, as well as on the tabletop role-playing game based on Lovecraft's novels.

Like the tabletop games, Call of Cthulhu will take place during the 1920s, when gangsters wore pinstriped suits, and everyone wore long overcoats. You will play as a private eye named Jack Walters, who has been hired to investigate a series of mysterious events. Though the game will take place from a first-person view, Cthulhu won't be a fast-paced run-and-gun shooter, and as a result, Walters won't have access to some huge arsenal of space-aged weapons. Instead, he'll be armed with conventional pistols and melee weapons and will have to explore the dark, gloomy corners of the town of Innsmouth. Call of Cthulhu will make use of the NetImmerse 3D engine, which has been used in other games such as Prince of Persia 3D and Dark Age of Camelot, and the game will also feature a separate physics engine to help make the game's gloomy environments seem truly immersive.

One of the most interesting ways in which Call of Cthulhu will remain true to its source material is in its treatment of insanity. Specifically, in most Cthulhu novels and tabletop campaigns, characters eventually discover the horrible truth about the existence of the evil god Cthulhu and of supernatural monsters called the Old Ones, and once they do, they gradually go insane. The game will reproduce this with a sanity system that will actually represent the characters going insane--they may begin hearing voices or see shadows take the form of monsters in their travels. Also, since the game is attempting to help create the atmosphere of a horror novel, there won't be traditional action-game elements like health packs, though you will be able to use morphine shots as a painkiller, and you may also find that overdosing on the stuff will drive you over the brink of insanity.

Call of Cthulhu is scheduled for release this fall. We'll have more information at the show.

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