Trespasser

Man, I love getting into a game. And Trespasser, from Spielberg's brainchild Dreamworks Interactive, provides one of the best environments for immersion around. There's no one else around, of course, save for the scads of Land of the Lost rejects that you'll have to find your way past and/or fight in order to escape from the island.

Man, I love getting into a game. And Trespasser, from Spielberg's brainchild Dreamworks Interactive, provides one of the best environments for immersion around. You play Anne-no Lara Croft type, just an average woman off on an average vacation who, unfortunately, crash-lands on Site B, John Hammond's dino-factory from The Lost World. There's no one else around, of course, save for the scads of Land of the Lost rejects that you'll have to find your way past and/or fight in order to escape from the island.

One of the game's much-hyped features that I looked forward to seeing was the "real" physics of the environment. Put simply: if it moves, you can move it. If it breaks, you can break it.

Trespasser claims to provide this type of realism-and in some ways it does. You can break out the bars of a building's window and climb in; you can jump on top of roofs and find ways around sealed doors; you can manipulate boxes to get past walls. But you can't walk up a hill with more than a 7 percent grade. Huh? That's right, Anne can aim and fire sniper rifles and shotguns one-handed, but she climbs like a five-year-old with greased feet. I know it's the designers' way of keeping you on their set path, but it's a slap in the face when combined with the realism of the rest of the game.

Then there's the problem of Anne's infantile grip, which results in oft-fumbled weapons and other items. You can only carry two items at a time-one stowed and one in your hand, and the one in your grip often gets in the way of maneuvering. If Anne bumps something with a gun, she'll more than likely drop it. The voiceovers tell you how much ammo you have left, but you won't hear a peep from Anne when she's lost her only weapon.

These issues aside, Trespasser is a heckuva good time. I can't tell you how thrilling it was to take down one of the large raptors with the final blast from my .44. And the first time I saw a T-Rex, I felt my heart skip a beat (and then stop completely as he ate it out of my chest-watching and listening to the dinos lunch after they've finished you off is a twisted yet highly enjoyable aspect of the game).

The dinosaur AI is frightening. Each critter is motivated by multiple emotions, such as fear, anger, and hunger, so you have no idea what they're going to do: they may see you and decide that their takeout meal has arrived, or just simply walk past you.

And those dinos look awesome up close. They're bump-mapped, so the effect is exceptionally real-even in software mode. And software mode was how I played most of the game. It looked better than with Voodoo II acceleration (since the game is Direct3D enhanced, other cards, such as nVIDIA's RIVA TNT, will perform better than Voodoo II's) and the frame rate was a lot faster.

The sound effects and score are haunting echoes of John Williams' film scores, and the voiceovers (courtesy of the sultry Minnie Driver and Richard Attenborough, who played Hammond in the flicks) are a clever way to add backstory and personality to the game.

Trespasser doesn't quite parallel taking dinosaur DNA and creating new life where there was none before, but hopefully it's a first step in the continuing evolution of realistic gameplay.

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