Hands-on impressionsClive Barker's Undying

We play through a final build of EA's horror-themed first-person shooter.

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Electronic Arts sent over a final build of its first-person shooter, Clive Barker's Undying, and we played through the first few sections of the game. The game starts out with the game's hero, Patrick Galloway, as he recollects a story in which he encountered a group of strange people while serving as a soldier in Ireland. After the flashback, you find out that he has undertaken the role of investigating paranormal activity, and as such, he has been asked to investigate some strange occurrences in an old friend's mansion. Once inside the mansion, you're greeted by one of the servants who tells you that most of the staff has left and that power has been cut off in certain rooms. As you head up to the room of the mansion's owner, Jeremiah Covenant, your vision dramatically begins to fade in and out as if you're in the middle of a flashback, making it rather difficult to walk in a straight line. Eventually, you reach the room of Jeremiah Covenant, and he proceeds to tell you about his illness and the possibility that the mansion may be cursed.

At that point, the action in Undying begins to pick up as you equip the six-shooter and head out into the darkest depths of the mansion. The first enemy you encounter just outside of Jeremiah Covenant's door is a relatively small demonlike character with a decent amount of speed. At first it's somewhat difficult to get a direct hit on these creatures with the six-shooter, because of their quickness, but you eventually become familiar with their jumps and movement patterns. In addition to the six-shooter, you have access to different spells early on in the game, such as the ectoplasm, which can be used in short-range situations. In the following areas of the mansion--particularly an area that warps you to another dimension where the mansion is in ruins--you encounter enemies that pack a little more punch, such as the worm creatures that throw an acidlike substance that impairs your vision for a short period of time.

The Unreal engine powers Clive Barker's Undying, and while it seems to run a little slow under Direct 3D, the game's visuals are impressive. The architecture of the mansion itself is quite detailed; it features stained-glass windows, arches, spiraling staircases, and buttresses. The texture quality, which is clearly seen through the paintings displayed on the mansion's walls, is very high quality as well. The game also features plenty of special effects, such as shadows, dynamic lighting, and subtle lens flares.

Some objects in the game actually have two different appearances; one you see through normal vision, and another you see through your alternate vision spell that lets you see objects as they exist in another dimension. For example, there are several occasions where a massive suspicious-looking painting hangs on a wall. Looking at it through your normal vision may reveal just a simple family portrait, but if you look at it with the spell, a gruesome murder image may reveal itself. The spell can also be used to detect enemies before they attack, and it can help light a dark room.

Sound also plays a huge role in Clive Barker's Undying. As you walk through the mansion, you hear a wide array of different sounds that really add to the game's atmosphere. While traveling down a dark hallway, you may hear voices of one of the ghosts or someone may scream in terror off in the distance, and you can also hear the grunts and squeals of enemies moving about. Interestingly, the screams or sounds for other characters can help guide you through the mansion.

Clive Barker's Undying has gone gold and is scheduled for release on February 20. For more information about the game, take a look at our previous coverage. We'll post a full review of the game soon.

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