Origin of the Species Hands-On

It's not the spiritual successor to 1998's Space Bunnies Must Die, but this strange third-person action game comes close.


D.i.R.T. - Origin of the Species

If you've been waiting for a spiritual successor to 1998's Space Bunnies Must Die, then the upcoming Origin of the Species may very well fit the bill. Like Space Bunnies, this third-person action game by Russian developer Nu Generation Games features a young, ponytail-sporting heroine running around and blasting strange creatures left and right. We got our hands on the E3 demo to check out this unusual title.

She may look like a party girl, but this young lady packs plenty of weaponry.
She may look like a party girl, but this young lady packs plenty of weaponry.

Trying to decipher the plot of the game is a bit difficult, as the demo level is set somewhere in the middle of the game. However, you will play as a raver girl who was kidnapped and used for military experiments. Whatever the case, the plot in Origin of the Species is merely there to serve up lots and lots of third-person run-and-gun action. The result is that while you look like a typical dance club denizen, complete with the aforementioned pigtail, baggy jeans, and numerous body piercings, you've been endowed with some extraordinary weapons skills as well as telekinetic powers. So after busting out of the lab, it's up to you to defeat the military goon squad on your tail, not to mention the horde of giant, mutated insects that were accidentally let loose on the town.

Reading that, you can rightfully guess that this is a strange game. Your character even has a teddy bear backpack that moves, kind of like a bizarre Teddy Ruxpin doll, or even the teddy bear from the Steven Spielberg movie Artificial Intelligence. The spunky young heroine also has a strange, stylized twirling move, so she can spin around with arms out, blazing away in a circle. You also choose from four different profiles, which help determine your character's skill points in certain areas. So you can improve her weapon accuracy, her stealth, or her aggressiveness, though we didn't see any difference between the play styles in the demo.

In the level that we played, we had to race into a dance club and save the civilians from giant insects, a fairly straightforward task. However, it's clear that the game has a number of bugs to work out at this stage. For example, our heroine got stuck whenever she tried to climb stairs, and you need to have her jump up them. The weapon animations are off, and the muzzle fire from most guns looks like she's using a flamethrower. Meanwhile, the weapon icons are the same for the most part, so it's hard to tell if you're holding a pistol, an Uzi, a shotgun, or even one of the weird energy rifles until you actually use it. Combat also feels clumsy, as trying to shoot anything at point-blank range is downright difficult, thanks to the camera controls and trying to point the aiming dot at something that's basically at your feet.

She also has telekinetic powers, which are kind of like Force powers, only without the midicholorians.
She also has telekinetic powers, which are kind of like Force powers, only without the midicholorians.

The news isn't promising on the graphical front either. The game feels washed out and the graphics engine feels dated. It features fairly simple environments, clunky-looking objects, and bland textures. The pity is that the cutscene we saw looks fairly good and within the realms of modern-day graphics engines, but the in-game graphics are nowhere close. The good news is that Origin of the Species isn't due until September, so hopefully the developer has a trick up its sleeve and will manage to address many of the concerns that we have with the game by then.

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