Lucas Arts LLC, while known mostly for their Star Wars games, has produced some other quality titles in the past, and looks to do so again next year with their newest project, RTX Red Rock, a space-age action game heading to the Playstation2. The game is being developed internally at Lucas Arts, and is set 100 years in the future, where aliens exist and threaten humanity. Mixed up in the middle of this conflict between man and alien is E.Z. Wheeler, a skilled soldier with some unusual abilities.
The game opens right when an alien invasion of Earth has failed, and the aliens are being driven out of the solar system. Earth is struggling to re-group its armies after the long and difficult struggle. However, everyone knows that Earth has not seen the last of these marauding invaders, because nothing in the future is ever that simple. Players will take on the role of E.Z. Wheeler, who lost his right arm and left eye in battle. His right arm was replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic that can telescope out and reach high ledges or objects, and his left eye was also replaced, and like his arm it has received some serious upgrades. Through his left eye, Wheeler can see his surroundings 5 different ways: standard, infrared, HUD, ultraviolet, and electroscope. All these new abilities makes E.Z. a lot more advanced as a soldier and the perfect choice as front man on dangerous missions.
After losing contact with a group of colonists located on Mars, Wheeler is dispatched to investigate the situation. It is believed that the colonists were killed by aliens attempting to secure the planet, thus establishing a presence in the solar system. However, upon landing, Wheeler discovers that such is not the case. Not only have the colonists survived, or some at any rate, but there is also a rather large group of aliens inhabiting the planet as well. It quickly becomes clear that E.Z. Wheeler must not only save the colonists and prevent aliens from taking over the planet, but that he is the only one who can accomplish these tasks. Being far advanced as a soldier, Wheeler is quite well suited to this task. Known as a 'Radical Tactics Expert', a special type of soldier, Wheeler is used to using unconventional methods to solve untraditional problems, and on this mission he will have to use all his skill just to stay alive. However, his unique abilities give him a fighting chance, and there will be plenty of areas where his telescoping arm and UV or infrared eyesight will come in handy, and will be mixed in with both the combat sequences in the game and the puzzle solving aspects. On top of that, Wheeler also has something known as I.R.I.S., which is basically like a super powerful and radically advanced Palm Pilot, which can used to execute a multitude of tasks.
There will be 10 levels in RTX Red Rock, varying in style with indoor and outdoor objectives. When outside, traversing a huge canyon or scaling a mountain peak, Wheeler will have to wear a spacesuit, and must budget his oxygen supply effectively, and when inside the colony he can leave the suit at the airlock door. The levels will feature various gameplay aspects, mixing up combat with standard exploration, and puzzles of varying difficulty. For instance, some of the puzzles will simply involve flipping a switch or finding an item, while others will require Wheeler to log into the central computer network via the I.R.I.S. in order to manipulate the robots scattered throughout the colony.
The combat in the game looks to be fairly dynamic with some really nice touches. One of these is the use of a reticule-like targeting system. Like reticules found on telescopes and microscopes, your targeting system is based on a series of lines forming a grid. The size of the reticule in RTX greatly determines your accuracy, as it fluctuates based on several, currently unknown factors. Basically, the larger the grid, the lower the accuracy of your attack. Also, like most action games nowadays you can switch between enemies simply by clicking a button, making multiple-enemy combat a bit easier. However, you can't just blast through a level like some action games, because you have to be on the lookout for surviving colonists who need your help, which is one of your mission objectives.
All in all, RTX Red Rock is shaping up nicely, and looks to become one of the better offerings in the sci-fi action genre. Lucas Arts will be showcasing the game at E3, so look for more info on this game, including some hands on impressions, in just a few weeks. At this time, RTX is slated for a spring 2003 release.
5/9/2002 Ryan Hartmann