E3 2011: War of the Worlds – Now With Less Tom Cruise

Not even Tom Cruise and his voodoo can save you from this alien invasion. War of the Worlds is a brand new, side-scrolling adventure game from Other Ocean Interactive that we got to preview at this year’s E3. If you’re not too sure who Other Ocean Interactive is, they worked on a few small titles you may have heard of like Super Monkey Ball and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. They have been working hand in hand with Paramount Digital to bring the H.G. Wells classic to life. The game itself follows along the timeline of the old school 1953 movie, but has different characters and story. The story takes place in London and is narrated by none other than Professor Xavier himself, Patrick Stewart (yes, I know that just sent chills down your spine). The game itself takes cues from platforming games of yesteryear like Prince of Persia and Flashback.

Visually, the game is stunning in its mostly monochromatic color scheme, similar to what Limbo was like. For a 2D game, it looks beautiful, especially the background environments. Each character and their animations have been rotoscoped and each level contains anywhere from 40 layers of parallax to a staggering 250 layers. What does that mean for you? Amazing depth of field in your surroundings that help to immerse you into the game. One cool feature/easter egg, is that when NPC’s get struck by the death rays, the death animations are reminiscent to the 1953 movie when people were hit with the rays.

The audio elements in this game are very key to immersion as well. The ambient sounds like death rays being fired in the background and fires raging in the distance bring you in even more to the chaos that is ensuing. The occasional blood curdling screams of people getting zapped were a nice addition as well. What really stuck with me audio-wise though, was the somber narration from Patrick Stewart. They could not have found a better person to help to paint a grim picture of the alien invasion and mankind’s fall that is occurring. Stewart’s narration is also the only voice you hear in the game, aside from screams of death. His narrating also assists in letting players know where they are, why they are there and what needs to be done.

There are a total of 11 levels to traverse through filled with enemies ranging from mechanical spiders and drones to the ominous 140ft tripods that destroy everyone and everything in sight. Gameplay itself definitely has an old school feeling as the developer strayed away from “conveniently-placed weapons” and opted for a more conventional approach with environment based puzzles. Other Ocean states that in doing this, it helps to instill and reinforce the overwhelming sense of isolation and fear that the original novel had. Other enemies and hazards that players can find themselves up against are the aliens’ “Black Smoke” and falling from high elevations.

All in all, the game looks very promising and I definitely look forward to getting some time on it. The game will have approximately 5-7hrs of gameplay depending on your play style. It also will feature live leaderboards with time runs so that you can battle your friends to see who is the fastest to make it through levels. War of the Worlds releases in Fall 2011 on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. There is no price as of yet.

You can check out more from Other Ocean here: www.otherocean.com

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