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Previews

Possession

Full hands-on preview rises from beyond the grave... and it's looking like one you'll want to, er, possess

Warwick-based Blitz Games recently invited us to play Possession, its first original title in years and one of the first true next-gen contenders. It's a title which employs a classic bit of role reversal by casting you as a Zombie commander, controller of the legions of undead, rather than the usual last human survivor escaping the zombie hordes.

Although initially described as a squad-based affair, we actually think it's better to describe Possession another way - you are a rather large gun that looks like a dreadlocked super-zombie. Your zombies are the equivalent of ammo and if you're intelligent in your approach you can turn living humans into all kinds of zombie bullet to serve your destructive purposes.

How? Well for one you can simply go up to a human, bite it and it becomes a zombie. However much better to command one of your initial four zombie slaves to do it for you. Zombie types range from the slow, but overwhelming-in-numbers Shambler, to the quick-moving Runner (like the guys from 28 Days Later) and the Bloater, which works much like a walking time bomb... of body gas! Add to this the Shredders who are wall-crawling bastards of the highest order and the huge Monster zombie who is ridiculously powerful and you have quite a formidable range of weapons/slaves at your disposal.

Your goal is to enslave the entire island you are based on and amass a large enough army to bring down the evil organisation that bestowed you with your gift/curse/disease. We got to play a very early build of the game which was already of considerable polish even though it represents just six months development time. We kid you not when we say there were about 100 or so characters onscreen all controllable and all usable in the game. All with working collision detection and not the pre-rendered house of lies others were showing off at this year's E3.

We played and interacted with all of it and it also had considerably fewer bugs than plenty of the commercially ready product we've seen in our lifetime. Suffice it to say we were impressed.

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Also of note was that this demo in the city-based level was purely a proof of concept and was built to show the tech working and the basic premise in action. However as the Enslaver, you already have a huge number of actions at your zombie command, so let's examine them one by one:

Angry Cam
A direct rip-off from Evil Dead and expertly done too! You leave the vessel of your body to travel ahead in spirit form to see what dangers lurk ahead - things like army troops camped out awaiting your arrival or big-ass tanks. Make sure your body isn't left out in the open though or a crafty sniper will take you out without mercy.

Possess
While in Angry Cam mode you can possess one of your zombies. If your zombie comes equipped with a rocket launcher, this is especially useful. This is especially useful for moving quickly around far-flung regions of the game map too. Once a zombie is possessed, you control it until you leave the body or get killed.

Instant kill grab
Walk up to an opponent, press the A button and chew away at your target's head. Instant zombie!

We also found the selection options very versatile and easy to grasp. You can group your zombies by pointing the reticule at the floor and pressing and holding 'R'. A circular zone expands relative to how long you hold the button and 'groups' all zombies in that zone as one. You can set up groups and cycle through them separately at the touch of a button.

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