ECTSOni Hands-On

Take 2's anime-inspired PS2 game centers around a young woman's discovery that everything she has come to trust is not what it seems.

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While Take 2 Interactive had a presence at ECTS this year, the bulk of their booth was located behind security doors and was tucked away from the general public. In small conference rooms the publisher showed off their latest console developments on a one on one basis. It was here that we were able to get our hands on Oni for the first time. Oni is a third person adventure with gameplay that emphasizes punch and kick combat and a storyline that focuses on the effects of misinformation.

Loosely translated to 'inner demon' in Japanese, Oni draws heavily from the traditional anime style not only in story, but in a graphical sense as well. The game opens with the young Konokio an agent in the international Tech Crimes Task Force and the game's hero, being framed for murdering another agent. She must escape her own unit and fight her way through the game on a quest to clear her name and find out exactly what's going on. As the storyline unfolds you'll learn that everything isn't exactly as it seems, and Konokio will eventually discover her oni.

The graphics have an unmistakable Japanese feel to them. Konokio and the other characters in the game have hand-drawn bodies and faces with huge eyes and overexaggerated features. An architectural team who spent plenty of time ensuring the game felt like an anime movie designed all of the game's levels and buildings. Konokio spends a good amount of the game punching and kicking her enemies into submission, and all of the game's animations have been hand-drawn using blended keyframe technology. Because of this, the game's motions flow smoothly and the combat system features moves that can be easily strung together to form combos. Additionally, Konokio changes depending on her environments and features more than ten different wardrobes. To make improve the flow of the storyline, Take 2 has decided to render all the game's cutscenes using the in-game engine. The game's graphics are pretty even at this point, but Take 2 promises the graphics will look much better by the time the game ships.

The game promises to feature plenty of different gameplay elements, but from the short demo we saw at ECTS it looks like the game will sport an almost unnerving amount of walking and punching. The game will be spread across fifteen different levels, and Konokio herself will be able to use at least ten different weapons. There are more than 20 different punch and kick animations, and they can be strung together to form "any number of fighting combinations" according to a Take 2 representative. While we were told about the game's intrigue aspect and Konokio's ability to hack into computers and access their information, these elements were not shown to us.

Hopefully Oni will be more than a pretty looking, high tech walk and punch. Take 2 has high hopes for the game, but whether that will translate into a quality product is yet to be determined. Oni is set for a March 2001 release.

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