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Preview: Child of Eden


I admit to being a bit let down not to have the opportunity to play Child of Eden, Tetsuya Mizuguchi's spiritual successor to Rez, at Ubisoft's E3 booth. However, watching Tetsuya Mizuguchi play the game for a small group was still a rare and wonderful experience. And for a Kinect game, it doesn't seem that I missed out on as much for having a "hands-off" demo, because even the person playing it was hands-off.

Mizuguchi walked us through two of the rail shooter's levels, called "Archives." The concept for the game (which it doesn't need at all -- "you shoot pretty stuff" is more than enough) is that you're eliminating viruses from visual representations of emotional memories within the AI "Project Lumi" -- Lumi just happens to be the same name of the virtual idol at the front of Mizuguchi's Genki Rockets band. Your shots "purify" everything they hit, while also, of course, emitting drumbeat noises and other musical sounds, provided, of course, by Genki Rockets.

Gallery: Child of Eden | 4 Photos

The Archive of Beauty -- the first level Mizuguchi waved his way through -- is a surreal wonderland of glowing flowers and lush, hyperreal greenery. The Archive of Evolution is a cool blue space with white clusters of hexagons floating within it, with clusters of growing green bulbs to shoot, which bounce in reaction to the shots. Essentially, it's the same kind of colorful, geometric visuals we know from Rez, but reminiscent of the organic world rather than the technological. It absolutely has the same hypnotic quality, and continues Mizuguchi's lifelong quest to simulate synaesthesia. The music and visuals coalesce into a pervasive presence that pushed every other thought out of my brain.

For the first Archive, Mizuguchi demonstrated the Kinect controls. To target items on the screen, you simply wave your hand to move the targeting reticle over them, locking on to multiple items at a time. Then you push forward with your hand to fire. The "vulcan cannon," which is selected by clapping, fires continuously wherever you point the targeting reticle, but appears to be weaker. Mizuguchi used it to clear multiple small enemies out of the way. Finally, raising your hands in the air activated what Mizuguchi called the "happy bomb." Happy bomb! That feeling you just experienced? It was the rush of falling in love with a video game.

Child of Eden was the first example I'd seen of using Kinect for something abstract (as in, not actually using your body movements to represent the movements of a human body), and it seemed like a novel way to play a rail shooter -- and it's interesting that Kinect enables a different method of control for that type of game than the Wii, which also has a controller well-suited for the genre.

Mizuguchi additionally played through a level using the regular Xbox controller. Of course, since those movements weren't quite as large, it was hard to tell exactly how it worked. He was operating the targeting reticle with the analog stick, at least. This is, so far, the only known control method for PS3. While the Xbox version uses the normal pad or Kinect, Mizuguchi reiterated that the team had yet to decide on Move support for the PS3. Given how fluid and intuitive the Kinect controls were, though, motion controls seem like a lock on PS3.

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