Hands-onMen in Black II: Alien Escape

We check out a playable build of this licensed shooter.

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If you've been hankering for a straight-up shooter of the Smash TV variety--which isn't exactly in a state of proliferation these days--Infogrames might just have you covered with Men in Black II: Alien Escape. It's essentially a shooter of that sort, though it's suitably charged with the trappings of Men in Black, which, when you think about it, fits the style of the game pretty decently. As you've no doubt assumed, the game puts you in the role of agents Jay and Kay and has you track down a bunch of alien convicts who end up on the loose after their prison transport crashes in New York City. What this boils down to, in terms of gameplay, is linearly paced, over-the-shoulder shooting of the most gratuitous kind. Both agents will have slightly different attributes (Jay will be faster and Kay will be stronger), but the experience you'll have with either will be largely identical.

Infogrames' internal Melbourne House development studio has incorporated features that many shooter fans will find instantly familiar. You won't be on rails by any means--instead, you'll walk through a series of linear 3D environments, out of which will periodically spawn enemies of various types. You'll be able to move any which way when in combat, as well as strafe, and a side flip. Your basic mode of interacting with your environment, of course, is shooting it and the creatures and objects that populate it. You'll do this with the X button, which fires the gun you currently have equipped. The default weapon fires thick, blue blaster bolts, and the sound effect that accompanies their discharge is quite satisfying. If what we saw is any indication, you'll seldom want for things to shoot; enemies are usually in no short supply, and a variety of the objects in the environments are destructible, everything from abandoned cars and storefront windows in the street environments to furniture and lab windows in the interior sections. In any event, you can shoot your guns by pressing the X button rapidly, but you can also "paint your shots," as you can in games such as Panzer Dragoon and, more recently, Rez. You simply aim your targeting reticle at an opponent while holding down the X button and release it to fire bolts on all the targets you've selected.

The action, for the most part, feels like fairly standard fare, though this doesn't seem to make it unenjoyable in the least. Quite the opposite--shooting things and watching them explode is a lot of fun, and it certainly helps that MIB II: Alien Escape looks pretty nice. The game runs at a fairly brisk rate, and there are particle effects aplenty throughout the environments--they're used to highlight weapon effects and for more ambient applications. Both Agent Jay and Agent Kay look remarkably like their onscreen counterparts as well, and you'll notice this especially in the game's interface screens, which use the in-game models. The aliens look decent enough for the most part, but the bosses we were allowed to check out looked remarkable. The Rottermite queen, especially, looked great--she was multistoried and featured an animated face, as well as a host of flailing limbs. Very nice-looking stuff.

We expect to get a playable version of this one very soon, so stay tuned for that. Till then, check out the media we've provided.

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