[E3 2012] Behold, Virtual Ellen Page
We finally see all that Beyond: Two Souls acting David Cage was talking up at the press conference, and it's... impressive. Get the skinny on how the game played during a behind-closed-doors session.
Published: June 7, 2012
Once again, Aiden is put to use, and in an interesting bit of sandbox-style exploration, is basically given free run of the smallish area. He can attempt to possess enemies (and does, including a sniper that turns on his buddies and a cop that drives a SUV into a nearby corner mart), can rip a clock and steeple from a rooftop and generally just cause chaos. Though it looks like the world is largely frozen while he roams around, Cage explained that the SWAT-like team was slowly moving in on Jodie. When enough distractions had been created, she made a dash for the theatre, barricaded herself in and let Aiden start flipping and detonating cop cars. As most of the force lays decimated, Jodie walked up to their leader, threatens to kill everyone and walks off to booming music.
Needless to say, it was one hell of a way to start E3. We were impressed not just by those performances, but by how refined they were and how solid the game looked. Whereas Heavy Rain felt like it was sort of pushing the PS3 to its limits, Beyond feels far more comfortable with the boundaries the hardware has to offer. The framerate was more solid, there was more detail and everything just felt more solid.
Gameplay-wise, though, it's pretty obvious Quantic Dream has settled into a rhythm when it comes to controlling the characters. The same sort of QTE-based interactions are alive and well here, forcing not just quick reactions to action-heavy events, but the kind of multiple-hold finger Twister moments that made some of the more intense moments in Heavy Rain so much fun. Best of all, unlike the PlayStation Move support that was patched into the first PS3 Quantic Dream title (after which full development of Beyond began), their latest offering will support Move on day one. We'll fully admit that we couldn’t resist going through the multi-character crime thriller again after the patch, but we're hoping some of the actions are equally natural with both control configurations.
Though there was plenty new in the way Cage directed some shots, there's a definite feeling of familiarity to what Beyond is trying to do. We definitely liked what Heavy Rain was going for, so we're plenty excited for a new tale featuring the same mechanics. If you didn't dig the sort of light interactivity and on-rails nature of Heavy Rain, it's not likely Beyond is going to offer something terribly compelling in terms of the gameplay itself. The acting however is miles better than Quantic Dream's first attempt, and it really does help to cement Jodie as an intriguing take on the whole protagonist-with-a-mysterious-past angle.
Like so many games these days, Beyond: Two Souls is slated for a 2013 release (when exactly hasn’t been pinned down yet, but that just gives us more chances to see how things are coming along going forward), and we're going to be counting the days until we can learn more about Jodie and her plight -- hopefully without ruining some of the mystery surrounding her upbringing and how she came to know Aiden. Given Quantic Dream's love of multiple narrative threads running in parallel, we already get the impression things can go in a few different directions, and David Cage all but alluded to that in his presentation. If what we saw is any indication of what's to come, it might well be worth exploring all the different paths to figure out the meaning of that whole Two Souls subtitle.