This new game takes place just after the events in Ty 2. Ty has returned home from the dreamtime to find that two years have gone by and that his homeland has been invaded by aliens known as the Quinkan. Worse yet, the Bush Rescue team has disbanded--scattering the Outback's protectors willy-nilly all over the place. In Ty 3, players have to seek out the members of Bush Rescue, convince them to rejoin the team, and then topple the Quinkan and their evil leader, the Quinking.
We spent quite some time playing Ty 3 here on the E3 show floor, and actually came away with a lot to say about this supposed kids' game that many adults may just want to keep their eyes peeled for.
Like its predecessors, Ty 3 is a 3-D action game. Players will have to run, jump, and climb their way through levels while fighting off dozens of Quinkan enemies (and mutated Earth creatures). Combat doesn't seem too complicated, but enemies are plentiful. Rapid button pressing skills and quick reflexes are helpful. The first big change we noticed was that Ty's boomerangs have really been beefed up. They travel further and dole out more damage, and Ty can perform melee attacks with them on nearby enemies.
Ty's boomerangs are flat-out cool now. You can outfit them with Bunyip Stones that add elemental traits, such as fire, ice, lightning, and wind, and collect opals to purchase boomerangs that can hold two, three... as many as eight stones at one time. Different powers and different visual effects will result from different combinations of stones. We put three fire stones on a single boomerang, which surrounded the boomerang with a giant ring of fire every time it was thrown. When we attached an ice stone and a wind stone, the boomerage surrounded enemies in stone... and the shattering pieces caused nearby enemies to freeze-up too. We noticed that the lasharang is back too, so you can expect plenty of grappling and rope-swinging in the adventure levels.
Level variety has been kicked into high gear. In some levels, you can hop into giant robots called Bunyips and trample or smash enemies (or use them to get past obstacles that Ty's boomerangs can't break). Other levels involve cart racing. In the story mode, these levels actually have a purpose. We won't spoil the story, but one member of Bush Rescue has decided to pursue a racing career, so now you have to try and crash him and slow him down in a race in order to shatter his dream. Hey, it's for the good of the Outback...right? Other levels take place in the sky in machines called Gunyips. Here, you have to fly around and shoot down Quinkan ships and destroy their bases. We played a few of these levels and they seem pretty fun. Piloting isn't tough, since you only need to turn the ship and not move it up and down, but there is some skill involved in shooting down the aliens and avoiding their lasers and missiles. Things blow up real good in these levels.
Ty 3 will also include a split-screen competitive multiplayer mode. We didn't get a chance to play it at the show, but we're told it will involve numerous Gunyip and cart racing levels (many more than are present in the single-player mode).
The graphics look pretty good right now--the environments and characters are drawn in a colorful, cartoon style, but the animations are complex and the amount of detail is more than you'd expect for a so-called kids' game. The character's costumes seem to drape off of them and react to every subtle movement. Their facial expressions change based upon their actions (running, jumping, taking damage, expressing success, etc.). Krome has also finally implemented streaming technology into the graphics engine. The game will automatically load surrounding areas of each level while you move around, which means that the levels are much larger than before. It also means you don't have to see a "loading" screen every 3 minutes.
HDTV owners will be glad to know that Ty 3 will take full advantage of the PS2's widescreen and 480 progessive scan capabilities.
One area we can't speak to is the audio. The noise inside the L.A. Convention Center's West Hall is so loud right now that all we can hear is a steady base beat (and the PSX Extreme staff is actually 500 feet away, upstairs, and protected by the walls of the media room as this is being typed). Still, we asked Krome's Cameron Davis to give us some idea of what to expect from the audio, and he said they were working on packing in a lot of speech and voice acting. Sounds good to us.
Ty The Tasmanian Tiger 3 will go on sale this fall.
5/20/2005 Frank Provo