CID the Dummy Preview
While the likes of God of War: Chains of Olympus and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, it's unlikely that CID the Dummy will get much recognition when it releases in June. Then again, perhaps that's being too harsh. Most avid gamers will have already completed those aforementioned blockbusters, and they might be looking for something a bit different. That's where this plucky little 3D side-scroller comes in, where you step into the shoes of a seemingly down and out dummy...named CID. That much, you probably saw coming. But there may be a lot more to Twelve Interactive's title than appears, especially when it comes to unique and original aspects of atmosphere and gameplay. In all honesty, this kinda reminds us of The Incredible Crash Dummies, a side-scroller for the SNES that hit store shelves 15 years ago and boasted an intriguing mechanic that involved losing limbs. Of course, this was based on the Vince and Larry characters in the commercials ("You could learn from a dummy; buckle your seatbelt!"), and the action figures that followed soon after. CID the Dummy, it seems, has nothing to do with Vince and Larry, which is probably a good plan.
Nothing more than a simple test subject, CID wants more out of life, so Professor Werken wants to give him an opportunity to become a hero. It's a story as old as time, isn't it? In his noble efforts, Werken outfits CID with some bizarre bionic red and yellow suit, which immediately gives CID plenty of new abilities. He becomes faster and stronger, and this overhaul couldn't have come at a better time, for Werken's daughter has been kidnapped and now, CID must save her. Formerly a colleague, Dr. D-Troit isn't too happy about Werken giving his ex-test subject such an advanced piece of equipment that both of them worked on (guess that suit is pretty nifty), and because of that, he takes off with Werken's daughter and sends his robotic minions against CID. That seems like a fairly rash response to a relatively small infraction, but hey, evil geniuses have to get their start somewhere. Besides, this sets the stage perfectly. We should get a quirky and diverse cast of enemies and characters, which will appeal to the game's target audience, and the gameplay has a good chance of being engaging and original.
Speaking of the gameplay, we said it was a three-dimensional side-scroller, which means there are plenty of opportunities to make this game entertaining. We like the idea of putting forth an old-school format with a visual overhaul; we never got enough of that when the industry was busy making the transition from 2D to 3D. We did see games like Einhander, which was a classic side-scrolling flight shooter (from Squaresoft) that utilized a 3D background, but they were few and far between. Perhaps this theory will work very well on the PSP, which is why we're intrigued to play the final product. Furthermore, we've learned there's an option for CID to actually "stealth walk," which implies there are stealth elements added into the basic action. He can attack and run, obviously, but remember, we've got 3D backdrops...there might be more than a few reasons to stay quiet. For example, the level on display at this year's Game Developers Conference had CID trying to avoid security cameras during an infiltration mission (source-IGN). So, will the multi-talented crash test subject take on traits of Solid Snake?
One detail of the game hasn't come to light, and it's how CID actually takes damage. Is he always going to remain in one piece, despite being nothing more than a dummy? In that old SNES game, you could lose arms and legs when suffering damage, and then be forced to make your way through the level as half a man (or artificial man, whatever). We know this PSP game isn't related, but the concept is similar, so can we expect to be hopping along with only one leg after getting nailed by an enemy? CID can certainly punch his way to freedom if he has to - and we've heard he can even run up walls for a short time - and it's possible that he may just take damage like in any other action game. There won't be any discernable change to his appearance, but his health will deteriorate, as indicated by a gauge somewhere on the HUD. Regardless, we'd like to learn more about the other abilities that suit might offer, because we're hoping for more than just a punch attack from CID. How's about he tears off one of his limbs and beats his enemies over the head with it? Or maybe Dr. Werken can whip up some nifty new gadgets for CID to take along on his action-packed quest...
CID the Dummy is scheduled to arrive on June 13, which means while it probably won't have much in the way of PSP competition, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots comes out the day before. This could pose a problem, but at the same time, you'll want something to play for both your PS3 and PSP, right? We still have to gather up a few more details, but CID could be an entertaining and worthwhile handheld experience.
4/12/2008 Ben Dutka