E3 2002: Core impressions

CDV is displaying Core, its adventure game for the Xbox, here at E3. Impressions inside.

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Although CDV as a company is quickly developing a reputation for real-time strategy games, its second original game for the Xbox system is actually a 3D adventure game. Players assume the role of Pixie, a kindly young girl who lands deep underground during an earthquake. Below the city, she discovers a wild machine called the Core-Suit, which adapts itself to whomever is inside.

Pixie climbs inside the suit and transforms it into a climbing apparatus. As she attempts to free herself from the underground labyrinth, she meets two new friends, Madboy and Rex, who can also use the Core-Suit in unique ways. For Madboy, the machine becomes a punching, fighting robot, while Rex--who happens to be a Chihuahua--can use the suit to hone his running and sniffing skills.

It's clear that the designers intended Core to be a lighthearted platform game. Each of the three characters has different abilities that come in handy for various situations, and you can switch between all of them at will to solve puzzles and defeat the evil Kranks--who also live underground. There are even guest creatures, like squid and birds, that can unite with the Core-Suit to give it new abilities. Control is simple enough so that anyone can play, as the game uses the Xbox controller's buttons to jump, swap characters, use abilities, and perform attacks.

Visually, the game looks like a bizarre cross between Earthworm Jim--with cartoon-style characters and settings that are bleak and futuristic. The similarities to Earthworm Jim and MDK aren't that bizarre, considering one of the lead designers of Core, Klaus Lyngeled, previously worked at Shiny Entertainment.

The evolution of Core was fast. "The original idea came from Klaus [Lyngeled], who worked out the concept in the back of his head while working at Shiny on Messiah, but it wasn't until the beginning of 2001 that he had a concept and a working prototype ready for presentation," said Oskar Burman, senior producer. "Klaus contacted UDS during the summer of 2001, CDV bought the game, and the story, quests, and programming have been ongoing since."

Core is not slated for release until the fourth quarter of 2003, and the version on display at E3 was nowhere near complete. The final game will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 audio--to take advantage of Rex's excellent hearing--and contain roughly 24 single-player stages.

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