by Chris Davis
previewed on X360
Tripods and Drones and Heat Rays, Oh My!
In the final years of the 19th century a famous author by the name of H.G. Wells published a novel whose subject matter was only beginning to be considered in literature: a conflict between the human race and alien invaders. War of the Worlds served as more than just a entry point into which authors could unleash their creativity upon fresh subject matter: it inspired generations to consider what life would be like if humanity ever encountered life beyond the heavens. Its various adaptations throughout the years have changed our way of both looking at the book as well as understanding the inherent themes and commentary present at the end of the Victorian era.
While War of the Worlds has been adapted and reinterpreted time and time again over the course of the past century, scaring the populace in radio broadcasts while thrilling audiences in theaters, one medium it has never actually been properly introduced to is that of video games. This is strange considering that the source material is prime for a video game story but it seems that Other Ocean, a developer whose previous efforts Dark Void Zero and a port of the classic Castlevania Symphony of the Night, is taking advantage of this unique opportunity this Summer. While at E3 this year I was privileged enough to get a demonstration of the game in action and, despite releasing almost too soon to build up hype, War of the Worlds certainly looks worthy of it.
Invaders from another World
Though War of the Worlds has been remade and rethought time after time, Other Ocean’s approach to the game takes place within probably the most popular and well known version of the story: the 1953 Hollywood film adaptation. While the events of the 1953 version are left intact, this version preserves the series of events from the film while still taking into consideration the novel’s events which occur in England. The main character, narrated by Patrick Stewart of theatre and science fiction fame, wanders through the remains of London in the middle of the invasion in search of his family. Though the details of the character’s journey are shrouded in mystery (even his name wasn’t revealed during the demonstration), the game’s head of development Mike Mika did say that the game’s story will mirror the original novel.
The first stage of the game we were shown, out of eleven levels total, takes place in London’s famous Hyde Park. Once a scene of beauty much like New York City’s comparable Central Park, it now lies in ruin as the alien invaders march upon an increasingly desperate military defense line. Craters and upturned, burning vehicles such as trucks and tanks liter the landscape while soldiers mount a hopeless defense against the attacking alien drones and tripods. Resolving to aid in any way he could, the player marches into the fray, searching for any surviving human combatants.
War of the Worlds’ gameplay is best described as a 2D evasion-fest as you must do your best to stay out of sight of the alien weapons and hide when and where necessary. Much like that of the classic games it was inspired by, War of the Worlds is hardcore retro-style platformer with a punishing amount of difficulty. For those who fondly remember classic titles such as Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania, you are about to be struck by a tidal wave of nostalgia. Trophies and achievements for the game are said to be just as punishing as the gameplay itself so those with little patience might feel deterred.