E3 2005: Level Up
Next-Gen Sega
Product: Next-Gen Projects (Sega)
Company: Sega
Date: 05/28/2005
Avaliable On:

While it had an impressive showing for current-generation projects, Sega also used this year's E3 to show off some of its next-generation projects as well. These included two games slated for the Xbox 360's launch and a glimpse as to what they have in store for both the PS3 and their own beloved franchises.

Described as a "suspense-filled, first-person psychological thriller," Condemned: Criminal Origins is a bit different than the more light-hearted games we've become accustomed to seeing from Sega. Developed by Monolith, who also showed off an impressive E3 line-up, Condemned follows Ethan Thomas, an FBI agent assigned to the Serial Crimes Unit (SCU). Essentially, its like CSI, only charged with the sole purpose of going after serial killers. The game will combine elements of FPS-style gameplay with that of an adventure game as you go around the city, collecting evidence and fighting for your life.

A major focus in Condemned is melee combat and the ability to pick up nearly anything in the environment. For example, while collecting evidence in a back alley, you're attacked by street people. In order to defend yourself, you can pick up a nearby pipe or screw-filled board and swing it in self-defense. Weapons can also be used to block incoming attacks as well as crackin' skulls. You'll also have access to firearms, though your ammo will be limited -- adding a survival horror aspect to the game.

When you're not fighting off bums, you'll find yourself collecting evidence with a bag of CSI-style tools, including an UV light and camera. You'll begin by searching areas with the light, looking for clues. Once you've found a piece of evidence, you can pull out your camera and snap a picture. Condemned is still an action-focused game, so if you were expecting to spend hours hunched over a microscope or running DNA tests, you might not find that here.

Moving from hand?to-hand combat to something a little more explosive, Sega is also readying a car combat/racing game for the Xbox 360.

The concept of car combat games is nothing particularly new -- but its still a hell of a lot of fun, which is why Sega and Pseudo Interactive are teaming up to bring car combat into the next-generation of gaming with Full Auto.

Full Auto takes place in the city of Staunton where an evil gang known as The Shepherds has taken over. You play a race driver who is forced out of retirement in order to help save the city through street racing. Yeah, it's bit of a stretch, but do you really need any reason to play other than blowing stuff up? Full Auto is a combination of racing and car combat games. Basically, it's either Burnout with guns or Twisted Metal on a racetrack; however you choose to look at it, Full Auto is shaping up to be a very fun game.

Your vehicle is outfitted with an array of weapons and you race against others through a fully destructible cityscape. Full Auto will also feature an innovative "unwreck? feature. This feature will allow you to rewind and replay short periods of time. What makes the feature so innovative is the sheer power behind it. Plenty of games have allowed for a player to rewind time in order to get out of a bind, but none have given you the ability to level an entire city block then rewind it back to its original state.

Development on Full Auto is still pretty early, so Pseudo is keeping it's mouth shut as to what features will find themselves into the final game. They are, however, hinting a Career mode, as well as an eight-player online game modes.

While Condemned and Full Auto were playable, Sega also showed off footage of a few next-generation titles as well, offering a taste of what the next-generation could hold for their franchises.

One of the first clips Sega showed in it's next-generation theater was Chrome Hounds, a mech game, which was announced for the Xbox 360. Very little is known about the game, though we do know that it will involve mechs, Xbox Live and a whole lot of destruction. Works for me.

Another clip shown was Fifth Phantom Saga, which is being developed by Sonic Team for the PlayStation 3. As with Chrome Hounds, virtually nothing is known about the title other that it takes place in a first-person view and features some sort of blue spirit/demon. It's not clear whether you'll control this demon, or what exactly is going on. Hopefully Sega will shed some more light on this title, as well as Chrome Hounds, in the coming months.

Sega also showed off some early glimpses of what next-generation iterations of some of its franchises may look like. One demo showed off Sonic running through detailed environments as he dodged incoming enemies in a sequence that could have easily been a current-gen introduction. Next-generations versions of Virtua Fighter and Afterburner were also shown. It?s not clear if Sega has these games in development or if these were meant as tech demos.

Some gamers may not be ready for gaming next-generation, but it certainly seems that Sega is jumping in and looking to make a big splash early on. Both Condemned: Criminal Origins and Full Auto are tentatively slated for release later this year alongside the Xbox 360. Hopefully new information on Sega's other next-generation products will be forthcoming.

Starscream aka Ricky Tucker

GameVortex PSIllustrated TeamPS2