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Killer Freaks from Outer Space preview: The freaks come out at night


Ubisoft's Killer Freaks from Outer Space represents a proof of concept for FPS controls on the Wii U. It also represents a showpiece for the system's new HD capabilities, and its ability to combine vastly different gameplay experiences into the same game. In addition to those two important technological roles, Killer Freaks presents the answer to the unasked what-if scenario "What if Red Steel and Raving Rabbids were the same game?"

Gallery: Killer Freaks From Outer Space (E3 2011) | 15 Photos

During a hands-off presentation at Nintendo's developer roundtable, Ubisoft staff demonstrated the somewhat comedic FPS, showing a scene in which a heavily accented, wisecracking protagonist searches for Critters-esque "freaks" hiding around a London city block. They're hiding behind boxes, they're running around the street, and they're spawning out of a spooky green fog in a doorway. " "There will be a wide variety of different freaks that will try to attack you and try to get you," said one of the developers, but for now, there's only the one variety of mischievous, sharp-toothed "freak."

He takes the freaks out first with a handgun, and then a lightning gun thing, and then some kind of powerful weapon capable of blasting a hole in a nearby apartment building revealing ... one freak repeatedly spanking another one. Humor!

But it's how you do all that shooting that's really interesting. You hold the WiiPad out in front of you, and move it physically around to turn your character and aim your weapon, with the pad's screen displaying your character's view. For those of you with 3DSes, these gyroscopic controls are like playing Face Raiders. It's an intriguing take on console FPS controls, but it's also a very physical one, requiring you to spin around constantly.

Multiplayer doesn't use that control system, but swaps it out for another neat use of the WiiPad. In the multiplayer mode shown on stage, one player used a Classic Controller Pro for a traditional FPS-type experience. But the other player, on the WiiPad, is presented with a top-down view of the map, and an inventory of various freaks to drop on the opponent. So while one player is experiencing an FPS with rapidly spawning enemies, the other one is playing a top-down action/strategy game about placing creatures in the right positions at the right times to overwhelm the poor guy on the street.

This is what's most interesting about the Wii U, in my opinion: the kind of experiences that allow for two players to interact with the same game, at the same time, in vastly different ways. Just try not to think of the fact that any game could do the same thing online, since each player has his or her own TV.

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