I have to give credit to Paramount Digital Entertainment. While most publishers with a catalog of films would only pursue subpar video games based on the latest summer blockbuster, Paramount is mining its back catalog for quality films that would make for slamming video gaming experiences. While last year's Top Gun and Days Of Thunder adaptations hit below the mark, this year's crop shown at E3 looks like a much better harvest. I've already told you about Star Trek, while the other game in the works is based on the 1953 film adaptation of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. Aping the 16-bit platformer genre expanded by old school titles such as Flashback, Out of this World, and Prince of Persia, The War of the Worlds wants to be a love letter from the developers at Other Ocean Interactive to the original film. And it has Patrick Stewart in it, too!
Headed to the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 later this year as a downloadable title, The War of the Worlds casts players as a London everyman who is attempting to find his wife and his brother-in-law during the Martian invasion in a storyline that runs parallel to the original film across eleven levels. Tripods, drones, and black smoke will be familiar to anyone familiar with the tale. Players will have to navigate a series of puzzle-platformer environments across a 2D series of levels that feature more than forty layers of animation and rotoscoped effects. Most interestingly, players are not out to kill the aliens or repel the invasion. Most of the gameplay is based around evasion and avoiding hazards, but there are a few offensive moments here and there. One sequence shown in the demo involved climbing up a Martian tower to plant explosives in order to destroy part of the structure, for instance.
I had the opportunity to sit in on an early demo of Worlds in action and from what I saw, the animation is certainly impressive. Things are still a little rough, but there's plenty of action happening across the screen to keep one engaged. Speaking of engaged, Paramount and Other Ocean managed to snag Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men, and most every Shakespeare play every written) to provide voiceover narration for the protagonist as he recounts his adventures in flashback during the main gameplay. Stewart brings his usual top of the line gravitas to the role, although considering the themes in play here, I'd have gone with Maurice LaMarche as Orson Welles for any War of the Worlds-related narration needs.
The War of the Worlds looks intriguing right now and I'm curious to see where development goes from here. There's plenty of potential in this property and the developers are all admitted fans of the genre and the source material. This may be one worth keeping an eyestalk on.