Preview – Plain Sight PC

Hey, remember Mario Galaxy? Of course you do, because it was utterly brilliant. But if there’s one thing it suffered from, it was a severe lack of acrobatic robots with swords desperately trying to destroy one another in a floaty arena of death. It’s a good job, then, that Beatnik GamesPlain Sight, due out on the PC on the 22nd of March (with WiiWare and PSN releases somewhere on the horizon), looks set to put things right. The chaps at Beatnik Games were kind enough to invite us down to their studio to see the game in its final stages of development, and we were thoroughly impressed with what we saw.

The game is a multiplayer-focused affair that sees you, as a little robot with a sword, jumping around low-gravity environments, looking for other little robots to destroy. The controls will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s played a first- or third-person action title on a PC – the standard WASD and mouse configuration works just fine – and you’ll quickly find yourself dashing around, drawing pretty arcs in the sky, and slicing up enemy robots with glee. The Xbox 360/Games for Windows controller is also supported, but that’s something we’ll hopefully get to try out when we review the game properly.

Now, jumping around in outer space and unleashing dashy-melee death on all around you is pretty great in itself, but Plain Sight is a little cleverer than that. First up, killing other players doesn’t get you points. Not immediately, anyway. Kills give you energy, which make your robot bigger and more powerful, but a much more obvious target. And anyone who kills you will get all the energy you’re currently carrying, and you don’t want that. So, what’s the solution?

Well, you kill yourself. Obviously.

Holding the ‘E’ key makes your robot self-destruct, cashing in your energy for points and causing a deadly explosion, the size of which is dictated by the amount of energy you were carrying – so, more energy means a bigger bang, and a greater chance of racking up even more points if anyone’s unlucky enough to be nearby. What’s more, cashing in energy allows you to spend it on new abilities, or upgrades to your speed, attack power, etc. – although this applies only for the current round, so think more CounterStrike than CoD4. It leads to a nice escalation during each round, with everyone slowly getting faster and more powerful, and eventually unleashing special perks like the ability to essentially become a black-hole when you self-destruct, pulling all your enemies towards your position before nuking the lot of them.

From what we’ve played (i.e. as much as we felt we could get away with without the Beatnik staff asking us to leave so they can actually do some bloody work), all of Plain Sight‘s little touches seem to add up to a really compelling multiplayer game, complete with a brilliantly-executed risk/reward system that looks set to cause a lot of aggressive swearing aimed directly at your best mates. A hallmark of only the finest multiplayer titles, I’m sure you’ll agree.

We should be able to bring you a full review in a few weeks, and we’ve also persuaded Robin Lacey, Beatnik’s managing director, into making an appearance on the podcast at some point in the near future.

We’re fairly sure he hasn’t heard the show before, so if you could all avoid warning him about what he’s in for, that would be utterly fantastic.