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Sudeki Hands-On

At E3 2004, we tried out the latest build of this Xbox-exclusive action RPG, in which we killed a bunch of bad guys and pushed a bunch of blocks.


We've been following Sudeki since it was announced back in 2002, and we got some hands-on time with it yet again at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. As we've seen before, Sudeki is shaping up to be an action-packed role-playing game sort of in the same vein as the Diablo series, but it will combine not just hack-and-slash action, but also some first-person shooting and puzzle-solving elements. The result could finally end up being a solid game, but as with other role-playing games on the Electronic Entertainment Expo show floor, it was difficult to get a complete impression of a game of Sudeki's relative complexity given the limited time we had to spend with each title at E3. At any rate, we were still able to take its action, role-playing, shooting, and puzzle-solving elements for a spin, and we got a decent feel for the game's controls and timing-based combat.

While playing the Sudeki E3 demo, we found ourselves controlling two of the game's main characters, a heroic young warrior named Tal and a scantily clad young sorceress named Ailish. We were readily able to switch between controlling one character or the other with the touch of a button, at which time the computer would immediately take command of the other character and seemed to do a mighty fine job of fending for itself. Most of our time with the demo was spent fighting waves of undead monsters and such, and it was here that we eventually came to grips with Sudeki's timing-based combat, which seems like a pretty good system.

While playing as Tal, we soon realized that hammering on the attack buttons yielded mixed results--we were able to take out some foes, but a little meter at the bottom of the screen indicated that our timing was off. So, instead, by mixing up horizontal and vertical slashes and timing our button presses so that one slash immediately followed a previous slash, we were able to produce some more-impressive-looking, more-damaging combos than we could just by button mashing. Tal had more tricks up his sleeve, though. By accessing a menu, which fortunately paused the real-time action, we were able to choose from a variety of powerful strikes that could either damage all foes in a straight line or hurt all nearby enemies in a sweeping arc. These mighty strikes cost a substantial number of ability points, so they could only be used sparingly. Meanwhile, Ailish had several such magical abilities of her own and could also fire upon her foes from long range either from a third-person or first-person perspective. But we found ourselves gravitating toward Tal's up-close-and-personal style of combat.

The controls still had a few problems. We noticed that they were a little (but noticeably) unresponsive just when we were trying to move one of the main characters around. Additionally, once we had plowed through all the undead and got to trying to solve a block puzzle by making Tal pull some heavy blocks around, we had some difficulty getting the controls to register; for instance, instead of logically pulling back on the analog stick to make Tal pull a block backward, toward the screen, we had to move the stick to the right to get him to do anything. Additionally, we found ourselves doing a fair amount of legwork just trying to figure out what to do next in the puzzle-solving sequence, and we found ourselves wishing Tal and Ailish would be a bit quicker on their feet. There's probably still time for the developers to address these types of issues if they see them as being problematic.

At any rate, Sudeki basically played well, particularly during the combat, so we're hopeful that the variety and mechanics of the gameplay will add up to a good-sized and captivating adventure. The look of the game has also come along pretty well and makes ample use of some of the Xbox hardware's proprietary bells and whistles, such that characters and environments all have kind of a glossy sheen to them. At this point, Sudeki should be almost finished, so we're looking forward to getting our hands on the complete build of the game and playing all the way through to the end.

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