Hands-on: Blowout

We take a look at Majesco's upcoming side scroller set in a bleak future.

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At a recent press event, Majesco showed off Blowout, its upcoming side-scrolling shooter for the Xbox, PC, and PlayStation 2. The game bears some resemblance to the recent Contra: Shattered Soldier , since it re-creates classic arcade-style 2D gameplay with a 3D engine. You play as Major John "Dutch" Cane, and your mission is to kill a whole bunch of aliens that have infested a space station. One of the game's selling points should be the creature design, which is the work of Yasushi Nirasawa, who has designed demonic creatures for both games and movies, notably Soul Calibur and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. But while the initial batch of concept art provides a good idea of Nirasawa's designs, his creatures were not in the build of the game we saw.

The game's developer--Kaos Kontrol, which is based in Nice, France--wants the gameplay to be explosive and easy to pick up. The game was said to be inspired by the 1996 PC shooter Contra: Shattered Soldier . There's a good variety of supersized weaponry at Major Cane's disposal: a 7.68mm General Electric minigun, a 75-pound industrial chainsaw, a 20mm pump-action shotgun, an 8-meter flamethrower, a plasma rifle, a machine gun, and an 8-inch nailgun. The control is pretty straightforward, with the left analog stick or PC keyboard controlling movement and the right stick or mouse controlling the 360-degree angle of Cane's gun. In addition to aliens, there's plenty to blow up in the environments, from base defenses to walls and floors.

Blowout has such a dark, gritty look that it nearly looked black and white on the projection screen we initially saw it playing on. A closer look at the Xbox version revealed some color, but there's still an astonishingly strong contrast between darks and lights in the game environments. This shadowy contrast is at times dramatic, and at others it simply makes it hard to spot enemies or see which parts of the environment you can interact with.

The game will feature 18 levels and a built-in level editor. In a demo of the editor, it was apparent that it could also be used to edit the game's existing levels on the fly, which would make it easy to cheat around difficult sections of the game.

Majesco has Blowout scheduled for release in October. We saw it running on the Xbox and PC, but not the PlayStation 2. Look for platform-specific screenshots in the index pages for the Contra: Shattered Soldier and Contra: Shattered Soldier versions.

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