During last week’s E3 2011 Game Rant was treated to a behind closed doors preview of two of Paramount Digital Entertainment’s upcoming titles: Stark Trek and The War of the Worlds. While we have already detailed Stark Trek, and its intriguing co-op innovations, it was now time to share what The War of the Worlds is all about.
Paying homage to retro titles like Prince of Persia and Out of this World, The War of the Worlds features 2D side scrolling that isn’t focused on flashy combat or fast-paced action set pieces.Playing out in subtler evasion-based gameplay, The War of the Worlds puts players in control of a London born everyman whose main goal is to reunite his family. Following along with Patrick Stewart’s stunning narration, The War of the Worlds drops players right into the center of the alien invasion made famous by the 1953 sci-fi film, and asks them simply to survive.
As was said before, the gameplay of The War of the Worlds is kept fairly simple, at least as far as the two levels demoed are concerned, with the player advancing forward only when it is safe to avoid strategically placed obstacles or enemies. Touted as a platformer, The War of the Worlds feels more like a small section of a larger platformer — where the player must avoid an enemy that is patrolling back and forth — only blown up to try to create a complete experience.
It is in that expansion of a fairly rudimentary gameplay mechanic that The War of the Worlds reveals its biggest flaw: simplicity. Not only does the gameplay feel overly simplified, but the level designs repeat themselves over and over again.
As the character attempted to advance forward players had to dodge the same enemy by hiding under the same overturned tank for a level that lasted somewhere in the vicinity of five minutes. Not to say that the game’s aesthetic lacks effort, it’s just in service to a somewhat empty (or at the very least, limited) experience.
Background animations, and the game’s use of rotoscoping to give a very old school feel look nice, but they sometimes distract from a game that should be quick and easy otherwise. There were a couple moments where just seeing your character was difficult – with particle effects and foreground elements crowding the screen.
There was a really intriguing concept to be had with this War of the Worlds game, especially with high-class talent like Patrick Stewart of X-Men fame on board, but from the looks of the demo, this is going to be a downloadable title that isn’t worth the price tag. Fans of the property might enjoy the title on name alone, but gamers who hold downloadable titles to a higher standard are going to be left feeling empty.
Still, we only saw two levels (of the eleven planned) from the game, which does leave some potential for The War of the Worlds to come out with some truly impressive concepts. It’s just that, as this point in the cycle, there doesn’t seem to be much offered.
What do you think of The War of the Worlds? Do you think the property holds any appeal for gamers after several film adaptations?
The War of the Worlds is scheduled for a Fall release on XBLA and PSN.