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GDC08: Joystiq live at the Too Human press conference

Ross Miller

5:23 pm PT -- We're in our seats waiting for the Too Human press event to begin. Stay tuned for more!

5:26 pm PT -- Denis Dyack appears on the stage in a magnificent puff of smoke. (Actually, he just marched on there, but we're sure that's how he envisioned it.)

5:27 pm PT -- Denis Dyack gives us some background on Too Human's story. Wars are waged, robots are deployed, and humans do battle against mean-spirited gods. Unfortunately for humans, machines are the only ones not bothered by the ice-age that results from all the nuclear shenanigans.

5:28 pm PT -- A video starts... followed by a Frederich Nietzsche quote (of course!) A dark and shady figure directs the main character, as any good trailer, away from the camera.

5:31 pm PT -- The character releases a slouched body for rescue just before being attacked by a gigantic beast. His comrades are all killed as he escapes with the body. Seriously, the beast is huge (and reminiscent of Gears of War). A half-cyborg woman looks over a fallen soldier and touches him, also turning him into some robot zombie soldier being.

Gallery: Too Human | 19 Photos

5:32 pm PT -- A crow flies across a futuristic city and perches on the window of a ... bar? Scantily clad women serve drinks to grizzled, bearded men. "Another body was pulled from the channel, ripped to shreds." We have a feeling they're drinking mead. It's a Norse thing.

5:33 pm PT
-- A cloaked figure marches in, arousing suspicions from everyone. The crowd utters, "he's here." Uh oh, a guy makes the mistake of picking a fight an gets a gun pointed at his face. "Move." It's Baldur (we think), totally overdressed for a bar but well enough equipped.

5:34 pm PT -- A giant robot monster dog... thing bursts in and a battle ensues. This cutscene is fancy... and long. Baldur (we'll just assume) starts do his "saving the people" thing.

5:37 pm PT -- He's knocked to the ground and smashes through the door with the beast. He climbs out casually, dusts off his shoulder. The beast bursts through the ground -- his manners are just not up to par. Baldur pulls out his sword, does some fancy aerobics, and slices the creature's metallic arm off.

5:38 pm PT -- The creature flees through a self-made door. Fade to black, end of trailer.

5:39 pm PT -- We're at a character class select screen. The Champion class excels at critical strikes and air combat, notes Dyack. Next is the Commando, "essentially your nuker." The Bioengineer can regenerate health and look absolutely fabulous while doing so.

5:40 pm PT -- The Defender is "your typical tank," and largely resembles one. Dyack chooses the champion class, perhaps a thinkly veiled message aimed at the ongoing Epic lawsuit? Nah, we're probably reading too much into it. "Take a look at the loading screen 'cos it's the last time you'll see it in the demo" -- ooh, snarky!

5:41 pm PT -- The real-time cutscenes are impressive, and immediately brings to mind Mass Effect -- sans all the texture pop-in and slowdown.

5:42 pm PT
-- A bunch of soldiers arrive in a frigid climate, packed into a large armored vehicles. Said one trooper to another, "Humans this far beyond the wall generally don't come back." More choice quotes: "It's a good day to die." "You always say that." "It always is."

5:43 pm PT -- After the initial load time, we've yet to see any loading between cutscenes and gameplay. So far, the framerate we've seen in the real-time game is markedly improved.

5:44 pm PT
-- Too Human is being rendered in "true 720p", says Dyack. We start counting pixels. One, two, three... Dyack says the philosophy is to not burden the player with camera control. It's all meant to be automagical.

5:45 pm PT -- Aside from some shimmering, the ancient temple being explored looks beautiful. No framerate hiccups yet! (98, 99, 100 ...)

5:46 pm PT -- The camera briefly switches to the perspective of a monster stalking Baldur. Dyack is still able to control his character. A fight breaks out, and Baldur gets to work shooting slashing and otherwise abusing robots. (145, 146, 147 ...)

5:47 pm PT -- "Not even breaking a sweat," says a companion. Is he talking about the graphics engine? (Agh, we lost count of the pixels!) Dyack notes there are six or seven different camera styles, including one more akin to Diablo.

5:48 pm PT
-- Another real-time cutscene. A robotic angel thing -- we later learn is a valkyrie -- descends from the sky. The framerate drops noticeably but quickly recovers. We're happy to see that's only a minor annoyance this time.

5:49 pm PT -- Cutting back to the game. Dyack reminds us there's still no load times. Baldur rides a platform across a long chasm. It looks a lot like Halo 3. This is apparently a flashback, but it's interactive. O Dyack, the time space continuum will be hurting for this.

5:50 pm PT -- Baldur engages in conversation with a guy with bizarre glasses. Are those LED screens? We need some of those. We also suspect Baldur's voice actor to be Crispin Freeman. Look it up on IMDB and consider how geeky we are.

5:51 pm PT -- Baldur has leveled up, and we see a deluge of stats in the status screen. Armor, levels, weapons, skills, all very... RPG-ish.

5:53 pm PT -- Several skills are open to you, depending on which "skill path" or skill tree you decide to traverse. "It's very very deep," notes Dyack.

5:54 pm PT -- Baldur gets ambushed and engages in battle again. Each enemy's health bar is displayed above it.

5:55 pm PT
-- Baldur's quite the acrobatic fellow. "If we make it out of here, I'll buy you more mead than even you can drink!" We knew there was mead in this! Air combos, dazzling attacks and flashy effects -- they're making this look easy!

5:56 pm PT -- Uh oh, giant robot with a very large hammer. Baldur dodges the attacks, dashes up the enemy's back and stabs it in the head with his sword (laser variety).

5:57 pm PT -- Another cutscene, with a blonde lass telling Baldur that he's been "greatly missed." He's being left in her capable hands. *cue 70s porn music*

5:58 pm PT -- Baldur should learn to crack a smile. The guy's worse than Ryu Hazuki when it comes to ignoring blatant female advances. "I'll be here for you." "I'll keep that in mind."

6:00 pm PT -- They're now in a virtual environment. Very nature-themed. Three women, of various age and revealing clothing, talk with Baldur and the blonde lass. "You can visit us ... anytime ... alone."

6:02 pm PT -- Old hags give Baldur some advice. This game's idea of cyberspace is certainly a bit lusher and exotic than we imagined it to be. No Johnny Mnemonic flashbacks here.

6:03 pm PT -- Baldur's still in cyberspace and is taking a stroll through a lush forest. A new power enables him to open a door -- a power which translates to the "real world."

6:04 pm PT -- Baldur's back in the temple, and can now pass through the door which he opened in cyberspace. We switch to the game's main city hub, where items and weapons can be purchased with wild abandon.

6:05 pm PT -- Dyack says he's a "big believer in ease and accessibility," and loathes "inventory Tetris." Everything's meant to be simple in Too Human.

6:07 pm PT -- Even if your inventory is full, it will automatically add any new items and throw out whatever it determines to be junk.

6:08 pm PT -- Runes! You can equip multitudes of them to enhance your various statistics. Charms also enable different effects on your attacks, one example being a charm that turns enemies against each other. "Now's a good time to switch to the ice forest," says Dyack. It seems like a nice enough place to switch to, right?

6:10 pm PT -- We're now playing as the Berserker class, a dual-wielding maniac that seems quite efficient at ariborn combos. Some of the berserker's animations seem a little awkward and abrupt. But hey, we're still not seeing any of those infamous framerate dips!

6:12 pm PT -- Experience bonuses and combo bonuses can be obtained by using airborne combos. Good to know! The environments have an impressive sense of scale, and deeply compel us to use words like "grand" and "ooooohhh."

6:14 pm PT -- Dark elves and goblins attack. It seems that using a special screen-clearing attack will have a negative effect on your accrued bonus and combo points. Don't take the easy way out, huh?

6:16 pm PT -- "That's probably a good time to stop everything," says Dyack interrupting a last cutscene.

6:17 pm PT -- Dyack is now taking questions. We ask about a release window, and get "soon." The date will be announced as soon as possible.

6:19 pm PT -- "Will it still be a trilogy and still on Xbox 360?" Dyack says yes and yes.

6:21 pm PT -- "Due to the loud people in the back" -- a lot of people jumped up to grab hands-on time -- "we're going to go ahead and wrap up the Q&A." That's it folks, we'll have some hands-on impressions for you shortly!

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