Special: Eidos has key franchises on display with Tomb Raider and Hitman along with some fresh titles like Total Overdose and 25 to Life. See what they're all about in Chris and Matt's previews.
Tomb Raider: Legend (PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PSP)
Okay, so maybe Tomb Raider: The Angel Darkness didn't turn out to be the evolutionary, revolutionary, Tomb Raider experience the longtime series developer Core hyped it up to be. That's why Eidos has reevaluated their tactics this round and handed over the duties to the continuation of Lara Croft's adventures with Crystal Dynamics, who are best known for their work with series like the Legacy of Kain and Gex. With a new developer obviously means there's going to be big changes -- and there are. For one thing, the graphics are extraordinary. Articulated with shadowy and lighted details, one level of the game is set within a widened tomb of sorts, lit by torch light and decorated in climbable stone chasms, spike and spinning blade traps, and one gushing waterfall. Lara's also received an upgrade, as she now looks less like an exaggerated cartoon and more like a real woman. That means no more big boobies, gents. Lara this time is also the most athletic she's ever been. Looking at her cling to one edge of a rock wall and jumping to another is just great. She'll use fixed weapons in the game, like a machinegun that was demonstrated to collapse a great stone pillar and make room for her leap onto a rope. Darkness will play a factor into the game as Lara now has a flashlight attached to her shoulder for accentuated viewing in dark places. Whipping out a flare to light a spike-covered tunnel elsewhere helps to see the dangers ahead in a very pretty way. As for enemies, Lara will be fending off both humans and some spiritual types across almost all seven continents, as Crystal Dynamics wants to stray more from the traditional animal route Core had employed in the past. Said to last about 12 hours in length, Tomb Raider: Legend is oozing with potential and is being readied for a fall release.
Hitman: Blood Money (PS2, Xbox)
The Hitman series speedily rose to a flagship rank ever since the debut of the acclaimed 2002 sequel, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. It's another year and another Hitman game is on the way. What's new for the series is a lot, actually. For starters, climbing different formats of elevation and structure will become a big part of the game like such in the hotel level that was demonstrated. Ascending into the elevator shaft and later using an elevator wire to strangle one character to get by unseen is one example of this. The bald assassin, Agent 47, will also encounter several risks of getting caught either seen doing the crime by a person in plain sight, by way of camera, or traced back to him by leaving a dead body somewhere where it'll be easy to spot. Called the notoriety system, this mechanic will strengthen the more careless you really are about doing the job right. Bodies can be hid best by using the environment to your advantage. Such as in one example, after offing a man, you can hide him in the hotel freezer bin. Elsewhere, pushing a drunken man off of a balcony will make his death look like an accident. Slipping a bomb into a potted plant and later on engaging in a fight with a bunch of uniformed officers will give Agent 47 a chance to blend in for a slick escape. This is because he can pull a fire alarm in the hall to make it look like he's rushing out of the building with the rest of the crowd. Then as the rest of the gang approaches the bomb's position, he detonates it from a distance. Nice.
As Agent 47 earns money for kills, he'll be able to purchase both upgrades for his weapons and new identities both for slipping past the nets of enemies hunting him with that increasing notoriety status of his. The graphics, besides gameplay, will also play a pretty large key within the game as a load of detail is going into making this the best Hitman game you've ever seen. Using a reprogrammed Render engine, soft shadows and high resolution character models will boast an impressive display of power for Mr. 47 and the rest of the game's entirety. Three times as many different animations will be present just the same, as there's a lot of killing to do and so many delicious looking ways to do so. Going by the progress so far, all I can do is estimate that Hitman fans will be really pleased with the newness of Hitman: Blood Money.
Total Overdose (PS2, Xbox)
When I first came across Total Overdose, I wasn't totally overwhelmed or eager to see the game in action. Furthermore, I didn't understand why it was up for an E3 award nomination. However, in the end, when it was demonstrated, I can honestly say that Total Overdose totally impressed me. The game is described as a tequila-rampage through Mexico's gun-toting, drug-pushing underworld. Players assume the role of ex-con Ramiro Cruz El Gringo Loco and run through the mean streets of Tijuana. To protect yourself and harm others, you'll have access to over 20 weapons. While these weapons are all cool, it's the bold free-style combat system that's really going to impress gamers. Similar to Max Payne, there's slow-motion mechanics and diving moves. In one situation, players could lean out the open the door of an old pick-up and dive away from the vehicle while shooting at the same time. This jump move was repeated on a tractor, only this time it ended up slamming into a silo, which completed a mission objective. Seeing this dive move in action really helped me see why this game I've never heard about definitely deserved its E3 nomination, which it went on to win.
25 to Life (PS2, Xbox)
Eidos had 25 to Life on display last year and again this year. In that time, this cops and robbers-inspired game has been filled with the promised elements and we only wait for it to actually release. It's expected to arrive in stores during the month of August for the PC, Xbox, and PS2 with 16-player online multiplayer supported for all versions.