RTX Red Rock Updated Preview
We check out LucasArts' upcoming PlayStation 2 action game.
RTX Red Rock is an upcoming third-person action game from LucasArts that we've been seeing on and off since the game was announced last year. The title puts you in the role of EZ Wheeler, a radical tactics expert dispatched to investigate some weird events at Earth's Mars colony following a battle to repel an invasion by an alien force. Although the game was originally slated to be released for the GameCube and PlayStation 2, LucasArts has since opted to cancel the GameCube version and focus its efforts on the PlayStation 2 game. We recently checked out a previewable build of the game to see how it's coming together.
The core of RTX Red Rock's gameplay will follow the standard conventions of a third-person action adventure game. You'll explore the Mars colony, searching for information on the alien menace you discover there and rescuing colonists who were trapped as a result of the alien arrival. Due to the troublesome combination of the colony's security system and the damage wrought by the aliens, you'll also have to do a fair amount of puzzle solving to access different areas of the colony. The puzzles are an engaging mix of standard fetch quests and more-cerebral puzzles that have you completing power circuits or taking remote control of robots. However, you'll be doing a bit more than just solving puzzles, thanks to the plentiful presence of aliens who are eager to take out Wheeler before he learns too much.
To deal with the various demands on him, Wheeler will have a wide array of moves and abilities that will prove to be essential to making it through the game. You'll find that Wheeler has two basic move sets. When running around inside the colony, he'll be able to perform all the moves you'd expect, such as running, shooting, climbing, and interacting with objects. You'll also have some extra abilities, courtesy of Wheeler's cybernetic enhancements, the most notable of which is his enhanced vision. Thanks to his cybernetic eye, Wheeler is able to view the world through four vision modes in addition to his standard view. Bioscan tracks biological activity, electroscan uses electricity to track useful items and systems, naviscan lets you view maps and find your way around, and thermoscan tracks heat signatures. The different vision modes are vital to solving some puzzles and detecting hidden enemies and areas. Wheeler's other asset is IRIS, a sentient PDA that serves a variety of purposes over the course of the game. When exploring the surface of Mars outside the colony, Wheeler loses some mobility due to his bulky, but necessary, space suit. Fortunately, you'll be able to pilot a variety of different craft when you're outside the colony.
The graphics in RTX Red Rock are coming together pretty well and have improved since we last saw the game. Wheeler looks very sharp, with plenty of detail and smooth animation. The alien menaces he faces are also pretty fetching, as aggressive and foul-tempered aliens go. The environments have their fair share of visual polish as well, and the indoor and outdoor environments have unique flourishes to help bring them to life. One of the most visually interesting aspects of RTX Red Rock is its quirky style. The game's look blends very modern elements, such as the spacecraft in the game, with some of the kitschy touches found in the old-school sci-fi films of the late '50s and '60s, such as Wheeler's tailored uniform.
The audio in the game is solid overall, although there are some rough spots. The ambient sound, which features a layered mix of sound effects that reflect the varied environments in the game, is solid and immersive. The sound effects provide a varied collection of weapons fire and explosions. The audio stumbles a bit in terms of voice acting, though--while Wheeler and most of the other characters you encounter are pretty solid, IRIS's voice is a bit on the grating side.
Overall, RTX Red Rock is shaping up to offer a unique experience on the PlayStation 2. The gameplay features a mix of standard third-person action adventure elements and gameplay innovations that have quite a bit of potential in them. The game's graphics make good use of the PlayStation 2 hardware and complement the gameplay nicely. The only rough spots are the game's camera and frame rate, but these issues may be addressed before the game is released. RTX Red Rock is currently slated to ship this June for the PlayStation 2.
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