The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe E3 2005 Hands-On

We check out the upcoming action game from Travellers' Tales, which was inspired by C.S. Lewis' children's classic.


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

We got a look at the game version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at Buena Vista Games' E3 display. The game is naturally based on the upcoming winter film of the same name, which is itself based on the first of C.S. Lewis' classic septology of children's books. Much like EA's Lord of the Rings games, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe will let you play through the events of the film with multiple playable characters, in one- or two-player modes, and each of the story's diminutive heroes will feature his or her own special powers and abilities.

In the first demo level we tried, we attempted to fight off a horde of troll-like creatures through an icy area with Peter, Susan, and Lucy, three of the four children you'll control throughout the game. Peter, with his sword, was the strongest melee fighter of the three. Meanwhile, Susan could fire arrows at distant targets, as well as perform a song that could put nearby enemies to sleep (when activated by the right sequence of button presses). Lucy, the smallest child, acted primarily as a healer. We fought our way across a frozen lake, with some larger enemies in the background hurling boulders that kept punching holes in the ice, creating one pitfall after another. In either single-player or cooperative mode, you'll be able to switch between characters as needed, so, for instance, it was a simple matter to select Susan and use her bow to take out these enemies from afar.

This level gave us a chance to try out the game's team-up mechanic, which essentially lets you combine any two characters for more-powerful attacks. At several points during this level, large trees were knocked down to bar our passage, and the only way to break them apart was by teaming up for extra melee damage. Each character has a power meter that recharges slowly over time, and only once this meter is full can you climb onto the shoulders of one of the other children and then quickly deplete your power as you whack away at the tree (or at an enemy or at whatever other obstacle is in your way). You have to be careful while in combo-attack mode, though, as one hit from an enemy will knock the two characters apart, and you'll have to wait for your power to recharge before you can combine again.

The other level in the E3 demo had us playing as Peter, who was attempting to rescue the fourth child, Edmond, from imprisonment. After freeing him, we had to defeat a dwarf-like character who kept using a spin move to try to hit us. The dwarf would become dizzy after a few seconds, which let us both knock him against a tree and tie him up to take him out. Afterward, we had to fight a whole gang of monsters that came into the clearing, and the only way to defeat the biggest enemies here was by setting large bundles of sticks afire and then aiming and rolling them at the monsters as hard as possible. This level featured a whole bunch of enemies running around at once, so we imagine there will be a lot of this sort of hectic, large-scale action in the final game.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe looked very nice and featured detailed environments and characters, due in large part to the game's sharing of art assets and design elements with the impending film. The principal cast will contribute both likenesses and voice-over to this promising-looking action game, which is set for release in mid-November. We'll bring you more on it soon.

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