House Party

Published on January 23rd, 2012 | by Louis Garcia, Contributor

Warp Hands-On Preview

Warp looks like it could be one of the best — if not the most unique — downloadable game of the year. It’s scheduled to come out during the Xbox 360’s House Party (Games will start to release for the promotion on Feb. 15 for Xbox Live Arcade).

As soon as I sat down with the title at the Consumer Electronics Show I thought of ‘Splosion Man because of two things: the premise and the gameplay hook.

Warp CES 2012 screenshot

Another alien lies dissected on a table… Zero’s in trouble!

Players start out as a little orange alien named Zero. He was abducted by scientists, brought to their underwater facility, and is now subjected to experiments and tests. Well, it turns out Zero isn’t powerless once he gets back a part of himself the scientists extracted from his body, and from there it’s a wild ride as he tries to escape his captives.

The level I played was part tutorial, but also showed off a good chunk of the beginning of the game. The puzzle-based stealth action game features a gameplay feature where Zero can warp into objects to help him get around. This ability would make Solid Snake envious.

Zero can warp through doors, into containers, into generators and into scientists and soldiers. This helps him to get around, hide from enemies, travel faster (moving between barrels is faster than walking), open up barriers by destroying generators, and either kill or knock out enemies.

The way it works is simple: Zero warps into an enemy, and then the player quickly moves the left analog stick around to start to inflate him and generally cause a ruckus with his innards. Rotating the stick and then warping out at different time durations will cause enemies to either become dazed, pass out, or explode into a bloody mess.

Warp CES 2012 screenshot

And you thought food made you bloated.

Warp was the sole ability I used to stealthily make my way around the level — a mixture of science labs, halls and vents (what stealth game would be complete without vents?). Other abilities will include frag, echo, swap and launch. Each one adds a new way of sneaking through areas. For example, echo will create a clone, which is able to trick soldiers into shooting each other.

The soldiers are silly enough to shoot each other, but they’re also deadly. It only takes one shot to take out Zero, and they will open fire on a scientist or fellow soldier if Zero is in them and making them act… funny. If quick enough, players can use this to their advantage and warp in a body and out before he’s murdered by his buddy.

Learning new abilities is just one way Zero becomes stronger. He can also upgrade his movement speed or general power by collecting grubs in each level — tasty and helpful.

Warp Grub

Grubs. It’s what’s for dinner.

At the end of the level I was able to put my movement speed upgrade to good use. I met the game’s antagonist, Commander, and was thrust into a chase scene. Gamers are used to chase scenes in video games, but this one was fresh and put the warping to good use.

The game is a real treat, and it feels as though it has a good chance of being one of the fresher downloadable games offered this year — it’s certainly the most unique out of the House Party titles.

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