February 3rd, 2007, 15:12 Posted By: wraggster
Yesterday at Konami's annual Gamer's Day we had a chance to play the latest build of Coded Arms Contagion. The game is the follow-up to the original PSP release of Coded Arms, and in some way is connected to the forthcoming PlayStation 3 title Coded Arms Assault. We started the game from scratch, creating our own profile and running through the opening moments of the game.
Contagion opens with a nicely-rendered cutscene where you see your character, Grant, entering the VR chamber to jack into the virtual world of Coded Arms. The only other person in the area is the general, standing behind the controls for the machine, puffing away on cigars. Once inside, he talks to you via a com link and issues commands.
The first thing you'll have to do is run through a short tutorial that introduces you to the play mechanics. There's no way to skip this, but it does provide some rather useful instructions on how to hack and upgrade your plug-ins. We're unsure of whether you'll be able to skip this if you have a save from the original game on your Memory Stick, but it would be nice as it's reasonably basic stuff and the game gives you reminders during the first mission anyway.
The first true scenario in the game takes place in what looks like a factory of some sort. It's a boxy environment, with sharps turns at every corner. There are a number of complicated battle zones however, with machinery impeding direct access of your bullets into your enemies.
The game's control system works on the now-standard setup for first-person shooters on the PSP. The left analog stick handles movement while the four face buttons are used for aiming. The problem with this setup though is that you only have two buttons left for other actions, and with three main commands in the game (fire, jump and lock-on), the lock-on button ending up being mapped to the down button on the D-Pad. It's sort of an awkward setup that can be gotten used to, but it's not as slick as it could be.
The lock-on mechanics are a little wonky anyway though. The game will attempt to aim at the person closest to the center of the screen, regardless of how far away they are. If there's an enemy 10 feet away and just a tad to your left, who happens to be lighting you up with gunfire, and another guy dead-center but on the other side of the level, you'll aim at the farther guy. You then need to press down again to remove the lock-on, then adjust your aim and try it again, or simply aim by hand.
Coded Arms Contagion looks really good at this point, sporting visuals that rival those of some PlayStation 2 shooters in our eyes. Particle effects and explosions look nice, and texture detail is quite sharp. It doesn't run perfectly smooth, but it's certainly playable and the sharp visuals make it worth it.
So far, Coded Arms Contagion looks like a very solid shooter wrapped in some nice ideas. The game is currently slated to ship on March 13th, so stay on the lookout for this one.
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