Giants: Citizen Kabuto Preview

Further details have yet to be announced for the game, but it's more than likely that Digital Mayhem will fill the PS2 version of Giants with as many new modes and PS2-specific enhancements as possible.

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Giants: Citizen Kabuto is yet another critically acclaimed PC game that's being ported to the PS2. Originally developed by Planet Moon Studios, a relatively new company formed from members of ex-Shiny designers who had previously worked on the wacky action game MDK, and published by Interplay, Giants: Citizen Kabuto is now in the hands of Digital Mayhem, who is handling the PS2 port of the game. And although the PS2 version of the game is in an extremely early stage right now, Interplay plans to bring the game to the PS2 with all its core elements unchanged.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto takes place on a fertile island, cleverly called "Island," that's hurtling through space. From a distance, Island shines like a blue-green gem, because of its fertile soil and deep oceans. Living in this lush ecosystem is a solitary giant, Kabuto, who's been wandering Island as far back as he can remember. Although Kabuto has desperately been searching for both companionship and clues to his origin, he now trusts no one and mindlessly attacks anything that crosses his path. The only hint of his past is a mysterious marking on his belly that reads "001."

In the outlying oceans of Island reside the sea reapers, a group of female warriors who were forced to flee their homes after constant attacks by Kabuto ravaged half their population. Kabuto, however, isn't aware that the reapers created the giant to protect their populace. At first, Kabuto obeyed and carried out the wishes of the sea reapers. However, time gave the giant a conscience, and as Kabuto became aware of his own pain and loneliness, he lashed out at his creators, forcing them to flee into the oceans of Island.

Meanwhile, a group of humanoids called the meccaryns (meccs for short) are approaching Island in their crippled space ship. These five meccs--Baz, Tel, Reg, Gordon, and Bennett--were originally heading to a popular vacation spot at Planet Majorca when their spacecraft was eaten by a giant gibbon fish. After spending two months in the beast's digestive tract, the mecc ship was "discharged" in an unfamiliar region of space. The meccs were able to make out a nearby planet that was clearly capable of supporting life--Island. The five pilots quickly plotted a course and headed off.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto gives you the chance to play all three of the groups residing on Island: the giant Kabuto, the meccs, and the sea reapers. In the single-player campaign, you start off in the shoes of the meccaryn Baz as he searches for his four other companions. Giants is split up into five distinct levels per faction, with each level containing five unique missions. As the game progresses, you will take on the role of a sea reaper and will ultimately graduate to Kabuto himself. Like Starcraft, the game's plot is defined by all three sides, and though you will experience the game through the eyes of three different beings, all three stories will ultimately intersect and reveal the big picture.

While there's no question that Giants is an action game, real-time strategy elements like resource management and base building are an integral part of its gameplay. However, before any comparisons to Command & Conquer or Warcraft are drawn, it should be made clear that these RTS elements are implemented in a way never before seen in any game--action, strategy, or otherwise. The focus of the game's strategy element is on a group of Island natives called smarties. While these beings have their own back story in Giants--they're constantly terrorized by the sea reapers, for example--their primary function is as a resource for all three sides. However, while Kabuto, the meccs, and the reapers might share this single resource, each uses the smarties in a completely different way.

Smarties, fearing both Kabuto and the sea reapers, will befriend the meccaryns upon their arrival on Island and tell them of their battles against the two foes. In return for protection, the smarties will build bases for the meccs, where you can then acquire additional weapons and items. Within the game, this works in a manner similar to most real-time strategy games. Smarties are herded back to the mecc base, where they'll strengthen the fort by building weapon shops, stronger walls, lookout towers, a command center, and even a pub. Initially, you will have to keep the smarties constantly fed with vimps, mindless sheeplike creatures that inhabit Island. However, once the smarties at the mecc base advance beyond level three, they'll build a vimp farm that makes them self-sufficient. As the smarties upgrade the mecc base, you'll be given access to a wide assortment of weapons, items, and vehicles to help you fight the reapers and Kabuto. While Baz and the rest of the meccs will start off the game with a simple jetpack and pea shooter, they'll be able to use additional weapons like a machine gun, a rocket launcher, a proximity missile that explodes within a certain number of feet of its target, a sniper rifle, a homing missile, several versions of a nuclear bomb, grenades, and mines. Several other items will later become available to the meccs as well, including turrets, SAM turrets, health syringes, gyrocopters, and a stealth bush pack that, when deployed, transforms you into an unassuming bush.

Like the meccaryns, the Sea Reapers will also use the smarties to power their base. However, since the smarties and reapers are enemies, finding resources won't be easy during the sea reaper campaign. Thankfully, the strategy gameplay element for the reapers is different from that of the meccs. As Delphi, a young sea reaper who has defected from the evil ways of her companions, you will have to build your own base, and do so underwater, no less. Energy is extracted from the smarties to strengthen the shields of each building in the reaper base. As more energy is fed into the base, Delphi will be able to construct new buildings, which will grant her additional abilities. While the meccs' offensive force comes from the strength of their weapons, the reapers (and specifically Delphi) depend on magic to survive, and as such, the reaper bases are ethereal hubs where magic is brewed and spells are created. Available to Delphi are attacks like a flaming sword spell, a shadow spell that causes enemies to be attacked by their own shadows, a cluster bomb effect, a massive tornado, a wall of fire, hail, and the ability to slow down time. Delphi isn't without weapons, though, and she can be deadly with her default bow. On a whim, she can transform her bow into a sword, and both weapons can later be upgraded into more powerful versions.

The most unique aspect of the game is the ability to play as Kabuto himself. Although the giant is the last of the playable races in the single-player campaign, he's undoubtedly the character that fans of the game are looking forward to playing the most. Though Kabuto looks impressive in screenshots, you can only appreciate his massive frame by watching him in motion. Planet Moon went to great lengths to capture the feel of a lumbering giant, and it's easy to see that the designers succeeded. Kabuto can crush anything in his path--buildings, trees, and animals--and he leaves deep footprints in the ground as he stomps around Island.

Kabuto has no weapons, and he can't build a base. The giant is a weapon, as well as his own base. He can bite, punch, kick, butt-stomp, and elbow-drop his way right through his enemies. However, he needs to be constantly fed, and you will have feed Kabuto frightened vimps to keep the giant at full strength. Additionally, if he can manage to catch and eat a smarty, he'll give birth to an offspring that can be controlled using a simple point-and-click mouse interface. This offspring can directly attack enemies or lay traps for unsuspecting victims.

Planet Moon expects Giants' single-player campaign to keep you busy longer than typical action games, particularly first-person shooters, do. It's currently unknown if the PC version's numerous multiplayer modes will make it into the PS2 version of the game, and how they will be implemented if they do. Further details have yet to be announced for the game, but it's more than likely that Digital Mayhem will fill the PS2 version of Giants with as many new modes and PS2-specific enhancements as possible. The game is currently scheduled for a Q2 2001 release.

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