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Acclaim Studios Austin


If there's one genre that is constantly evolved through the diligent efforts of innovators throughout the industry, it's that of the adventure game. Perhaps the rapid progression stems from the way most titles in the genre share superficial appearances, as the casual gamer will inevitably be hard-pressed to tell them apart if they don't stand out in some glorious way. Acclaim Studios Austin hopes to further push the envelope redefined by Super Mario 64 with Vexx, a promising new platformer to be released this October.

This nonlinear quest follows the life and times of Vexx, a young humanoid character whose planet has been invaded by an eidolon named the Shadowraith. After his grandfather is slain by the fiends, Vexx finds the sole extant pair of Astani War Talons, fierce weapons that give him the power to seek vengeance. This certainly isn't as lighthearted an adventure as are those of Mario.

Vexx has a formidable arsenal of attacks, which can be upgraded as the game progresses. The game shares a remarkable 3D engine with the forthcoming Turok Evolution and sports numerous graphical touches, such as reflections and swaying vegetation.

One feature Acclaim touts is the ability to spot a major landmark from a great distance, such as a castle spire or volcano caldera, and allow players to find a path there. The level designs are quite clever, and should offer new experiences to even jaded gamers.

One of the first things many gamers will notice in Acclaim's new adventure is the extraordinary draw distance evidenced in outdoor areas. While at times the "landmark" feature of the game isn't nearly as pronounced as touted, Vexx can see far-off areas that canall still be reached... though the path may be sinister. While massive landscapes are rendered well with no fogging, other tricky, particular distant regions arrive in a sharp burst of pop-up,which will hopefully be fixed in the last leg of Vexx's development cycle.

One less overt facet of the gameplay is particularly satisfying. The combatsystem consists of basic slashes in addition to an array of complex attacks. While casual gamers may take the easiest route to defeat an enemy, more enterprising players can earn powerups through finding new, savage ways toexact revenge upon their foes. The spot-on physics in many areas take a break in combat, where juggling creatures high into the air is no problem.

Vexx can learn over 200 different moves in the game, fleshing out a diversearsenal of offensive and otherwise skills. Abilities aren't innate; Vexxmust learn them before he can put them to use. This is yet another facet of the game which reveals its true nature. The lead designer calls it "Banjo-Kazooie for adults." Indeed, in graphical style and gameplay it resembles Rare's acclaimed platformer.

There are many other rewards in store for the dedicated gamer. Secret items within levels (144+ in all) can be used to access optional objectives. Most notably, an arcane language is present in Vexx that can be deciphered to unlock a set of bonus stages. Successful completion of these grants the player access to several party games from the menu.

Vexx is far more dark than the standard Mario clone. The protagonist searches the land for beating, anatomically correct hearts, which cause the controller to rumble with an increasing rhythm as Vexx approaches. Also, enemies shift to more vicious, demonic forms in the night half of the game world's ninety-minute day cycle.

The developers hope to include both progressive scan support and a widescreen mode, though details are not yet finalized.

Word on the Street
The E3 build of Vexx was plagued with several major issues, such as long loading times, that won't be present in the final product, but these seemed to have left a strongly negative opinion among many gamers. Fortunately for Acclaim, recent publications raved about the project and it indeed seems to have a large amount of potential.

From the Horse's Mouth

  • 18 extraordinary levels span tree canopy villages, mysterious caves, desert temples, underwater cities, deadly volcanoes, and more
  • Hidden multi-player party games unlocked as players progress through the single player world
  • Advanced environment mapping produce reflections, glows, and highlights on Vexx's metal gloves and knee guards
  • Hidden multi-player party games unlocked as players progress through the single player world
  • Clothes, hair, and trees respond dynamically to the environment

While Vexx is a clever platformer with a fair bit of buzz behind it, many gamers may overlook it in lieu of Super Mario Sunshine. If the team at Acclaim properly fixes the few issues, adventure fans would do themselves a disservice by passing on it. With Rare's position in the fold tentative at best, gamers looking for a post-Star Fox fix may well find consolation in Vexx.



word on the street

press release notes


Staff Avatar Neil Aschliman
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"I'm your lover, I'm your zero. I'm the face in your dreams of glass."

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