E3 Coverage: Sammy Studios

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posted 5/17/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
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Watch out gaming world, Sammy Studios is in the house and it has something to prove. Forget about the publisher of third party titles that you used to know, this formidable studio has opened up a number of studios on the west coast with a new commitment towards developing quality in-house titles. We were able to sample a few of them at the show, a couple of which were real show stoppers.

Darkwatch

I know, I know, the story of a vampire cowboy who sets out to destroy legions of zombies in the old west isn’t exactly the most original idea on the planet, but Sammy is adding just enough to this wrought and clichéd genre to separate itself from the hordes of look alikes on the market.

Darkwatch has a significantly darker tone to it. In it you play as the cowboy Jericho who was bitten by a bloodthirsty vampire. He survives the attack but finds that Hangtown is being overrun by a number of zombies and sets out to save the townspeople. We were given a demo of what to expect from the finished product and although it was brief, we can wholeheartedly say that it was one of the show’s biggest surprises.

While everyone was showing sequels to yesterday’s most beloved titles Sammy decided to show off the theme of tomorrow. This shooter features all of the elements that everyone was touting at the show but in a significantly varied setting. You’ll have a number of different and entertaining weapons to utilize as well as a number of vampiric enhancements. Some of the neat ones that we saw was an alternate viewing mode that caused your enemies to glow brighter and another which allowed you to jump farther than usual.

Not to be outdone, Darkwatch also features this year’s biggest theme, physics. Instead of going the easy route and incorporating Havoc 2 like everyone else Sammy has created its own physics system from the ground up. Calling it impressive would be an understatement. Havok is nice but it generally only affects objects in the near vicinity of the action. So if you throw some dynamite into a pile of boxes you’ll see them scatter realistically, but what about that light fixture up above? Sammy’s physics engine takes this into account, so while you’ll still see the boxes scatter you’ll see the chandelier sway in a realistic manner as well. This is evident throughout the town of Hangtown as you’ll the bodies hanging from the railings sway as they come in contact with your actions.

In addition to the technology the action seems to be up to snuff as well. There is a healthy amount of action to be had here including a third-person horse-mounted element. If the action can keep up with the technology Sammy will be winning plenty of awards with this title come 2005.
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