Snow E3 2005 Impressions

We give you the straight dope on 2K Games' upcoming drug-peddling strategy game.

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Not everyone can make it in Hollywood, and would-be actor Johnny is discovering this the hard way. A couple of bad roles land him in a tricky spot...how is he going to earn a living with no work? The answer for Johnny is simple: he's going to sell drugs. We were able to spend some time viewing an early build of the Xbox version of Snow, 2K Games' strategy game for the PC and Xbox that puts you in Johnny's shoes as he climbs the ranks from modest drug pusher to true kingpin.

You won't start off with that much influence, as the operation will consist of Johnny, a buddy of his, and some friends in Mexico who ply their horticultural skills with marijuana. Gradually, your dealing activities will allow you to earn more money, hire more people, and establish a distribution network that lets you send your wicked wares all over the country. But initially, you'll be dealing with small-time drug deals in relatively small areas. Via a menu-based system, you'll take on new objectives to complete, such as running some pot from Mexico to Los Angeles. Once you've decided who's going to take care of the job for you, you'll have to figure out how much of the drug you want to grab (your helpers can carry varying amounts), which supplier you're getting it from, where you're going to cross the border, and where you're going to sell the goods.

Your ultimate goal is going to be clawing your way to the top of your competitive industry, and you'll have to take down three rival gangs in Miami, New York, and Chicago to do so. As you gain power, you're going to be running into your rivals, and you'll be able to order your faithful minions to carry out hits against your enemies to remove them. Fights will also occur during the course of your various missions (maybe you get caught crossing the border, for example), and we were told that when you encounter a fight there will be a card-based battle system in place for the combat. This system hasn't yet been implemented in the build of the game that we saw. Depending on the order that you complete certain goals in, there will be multiple branches for the story to take.

Visually, the game carries a sort of comic book or graphic-novel feel, with lots of stylized still life artwork. While planning and carrying out your missions, you'll view an overhead map of the United States that you can use to plot your actions, as well as maps showing Mexico and parts of South America where you can gather marijuana and cocaine for your needy customers.

This definitely won't be a strategy game you'll give to junior to sharpen his business acumen. But Snow is looking like a neat title that takes the current industry fixation on crime and edgy content and applies it to a whole new genre. We'll update this gamespace with more news on Snow as it becomes available prior to its release in early 2006, so keep your eyes right here to get your needed fix.

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