E3 2008: SEGA

Everyone might have been hyped about the new Sonic, but SEGA had quite a few other titles that were worth seeing. Here are our previews of Sonic Unleashed, Bayonetta, Alpha Protocol and Mad World.

Sonic Unleashed (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)

It was a short and very private demo session with producer Patrick Riley, but we got to see the next Sonic in detail.

Sonic Unleashed is a single-player game in its entirety, still under development, so no set number of hours of gameplay was specified. The game uses the Hegehog engine to seamlessly swap between 3D and 2D views of the areas, with fantastic results.

The stages are based in real world locations, such as Mykonos (Greece) and China, and each has a daytime and nighttime version. During the day, you play your normal Sonic, speeding, jumping and rolling around. Collecting rings adds up to your ring energy meter, which activates sonic boosts (your turbo feature) that allows you to reach greater speed and destroy robots in your way. Sonic boosts also allow you to run on water, and obviously, you will sink if you slow down.

The rings also act like your vitality, and you don't lose them all if you get hit. Sonic's new moves include strafing and drifting, without losing momentum, making it easier to pick up those long rows of rings as he goes.

During the night, Sonic becomes the Werehog, and while there is still plenty of platforming action, the game becomes more combat-oriented. Since the Werehog is stripped of his speed, these parts of the game are more prone to exploration, since you're not always running. Sonic has a number of combat moves (single and AE), and he can use his super-strong stretching arms to grab and slam enemies, or to swing and climb.

In some of the stages you will be allowed to switch between Hedgehog and Werehog.

The stages have plenty of ramps, twists, turns and loops, switches to activate platforms, moving and platforms, branching paths and some button-press events. The player's timing and platform skills will be constantly put to the test.

Camera angles and lighting play a very important part in the game. This early build showed some frame rate slowdowns in a few occasions, but other than that, the game does look impressive. An online component is something still being discussed, as are trophies for the PS3 version.

Sonic Unleashed should be out this November.

Bayonetta (X360, PS3)

An action/adventure game, Bayonetta stars a supermodel-like witch, dressed in some S&M reminiscent leather outfit, armed with guns and some fantastic hair. Yes, hair. Her hair is one hell of a weapon.

Switching from melee punching and kicking to gun fighting to magic, combat is always action-packed and interesting. The game is packed with enemies and boss fights. Enemies will occasionally drop weapons that Bayonetta can use for a limited time only. Damage done on boss fights will be visually shown by armor cracking and breaking off, revealing weaker spots.

Her hair can turn into a giant fist or shoe to beat up enemies, or better yet, a massive dragon. It is pretty amazing what this girl's hair can do to help is the stickiest of situations. She can also summon torture devices, which are like special finishing moves. We were shown the iron maiden and the guillotine, and both were pretty cool!

Collectibles are shown in the form of halos, which drop from enemies and can be traded in for weapons and upgrades. Bayonetta isn't due out until 2009, but is definitely one game we should keep an eye out for.

Madworld (Wii)

Mad World is a black and white graphic novel type of game, that is to say, it's presented as if you were inside a moving comic book. Everything is basically pen drawings on white paper, with the only color being red for blood spatter.

You play as Jack, a participant in a survival gameshow called Deathwatch. Throughout the game, you will be constantly hearing the announcers commenting on the events that are going on and Jack's performance.

The game uses intuitive motion controls for weapons (a chainsaw being your primary one) and environmental kills, for example, throwing someone into a wall of spikes, impaling someone with a street lamp, ripping someone in two with a pair of knives that were conveniently laying around. The finishing moves display gruesome, bloody deaths, and the more creative with the killing, the more points you get. Points are used to unlock new moves and some mini-games.

Definitely not what you would expect for a Wii game, that's for sure! Madworld is coming to the Wii in March 2009.

Alpha Protocol (X360, PS3, PC)

In Alpha Protocol you play as Agent Michael Thornton, a spy who has been dismissed from the CIA.

Alpha Protocol has some similarities with Mass Effect. The dialog stance offers a number of pre-set emotions, and it happens with cinematics and speech options. You will gain or lose reputation with people according to the way you treat them, by your choice of actions or speech.

You can choose the way you want to play. In the demo we were shown an event where you had to get past the guard at the entrance of the US Embassy in Moscow. You can be impatient, authoritary, talk your way or shoot through the situation, or just sneak around to find a way in and avoid combat.

Depending on how you play the game, what initially are your allies can become your enemies, and vice-versa. Everything can affect your position with the different factions and alter your reputation.

Michael has quite a few weapons up his arsenal (grenades, noise makers, pistols), plus martial arts combat training, and a specific set of special skills: Iron Will, Bullet Storm (no need to reload), Fury and Chain Shot (basically bullet time). There are also perks that give skill bonuses.

In the safehouse, you can buy and sell equipment, phone people, check your messages and customize your character. Since Michael is a spy, there are a few options to alter his appearance, such as clothing, facial hair, face paint and glasses. You can dress up accordingly for whatever mission, since people will also react to what you are wearing.

The storyline is very interactive and a lot of different things can happen as you play, leading to several different endings. Alpha Protocol is set for a Q1 2009 release.