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Jack Bauer Hour Power!




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June 23, 2005 - The following article takes place between the hours of 6 and 7pm on the day of IGN's Thursday update. Events happen in real-time... as do storyline spoilers, so don't blame us if you find out something you didn't want to know.

If you had as many bad days as Jack Bauer, you'd probably shoot everything in sight too. Luckily, that's exactly what Sony Cambridge will allow you to do with the October-bound PS2-exclusive actioner, 24: The Game. Developed by the same team responsible for Ghosthunter and Primal (and running on a modified Ghosthunter engine), 24: The Game aims to fill the gaps left by the four year discrepancy between seasons two and three of the television show. What happened to President Palmer after the assassination attempt? How did Kim first hook up with Chase? And speaking of Kim, why did she start working at CTU in the first place? The answers to all these questions (and apparently a whole lot more) are waiting to be explored in yet another harrowing day in the life of Jack Bauer.

I recently had the opportunity to check out the latest build of 24 at a private press event held by 2K Games in downtown San Francisco. A few versions beyond the disc shown at E3, the latest rev is just shy of going early Beta -- so there were still a couple of physics and camera issues that are in the midst of being ironed out. Even so, the visual quality of Sony's licensed ***le is terrific. The Cambridge team has taken the likenesses and mannerisms of each of the show's characters and really brought them to life on the digital screen. If I wore a hat, it would go off to them for achieving such an impressive visual job so early into the production.

And when I say the game has impressive visuals I mean it. Cyber-scanned faces, semi-interactive environments, and multi-paneled cutscenes inspired by the show are just a few of the many ways that 24 wowed me at first glance. I also can't forget to mention the reactionary animations of fallen enemies whenever they're blasted by your firearms... it's both realistic and dramatic. Throw in actual voice-overs from the actors, a real-time countdown clock, and a mix of different gameplay segments and the game really does play out like an episode of 24. Sony has been working closely with the television production crew for the last several months to get the game as close to the real thing as possible, and it shows.

What I found particularly intriguing about 24, though, is that the production elements aren't just there for aesthetics -- they have a practical purpose in gameplay as well. The multi-paneled camera views, for instance, are used for a more than just dramatic effect: they can show you where enemies are lurking too -- or be used as a map to help you navigate through a crack house. There is any number of possibilities that the 2K Games team promises can be used here, and it'll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Speaking of playing, 24's mechanics are similar to ***les like San Andreas, True Crime, and other popular urban dramas. To its benefit, 24 also employs a nice mix of auto-lock and manual targeting elements that make it easy to hone in on guys quickly with your firearm, while also providing you with the freedom to take nail particular body parts. So while you may think the auto-aimed chest shot may all be fine and good, some quick manipulation with the right analog stick will allow you to pinpoint the head or even shoot pistols out of hands. You'll be able to pick up and use any dropped enemy weapon too, so there's an extra incentive to eliminate enemies other than the obvious.

As an additional bonus for would-be CTU agents, players can also use any object in the environment as cover. Overturned couches, tables, walls, doorways, and a huge assortment of varying locations can all be used to your advantage. It reminds me a bit of the action from Namco's 2003 shooter Killswitch, only a little more open-ended. Unfortunately, I also noticed that when Jack is taking cover it's hard to see what's going on to either side of him -- making it easy for enemies out of view to take potshots at you without knowing where it comes from unless you give up cover and adjust the camera manually. Hopefully, this is just the result of the early age of the build that I mentioned earlier and not something more serious. On a related note, the AI also seems to be a work in progress with the demo version's enemies not offering much by way of aggression.

Unfinished AI wasn't the case with the game's racing sequences, however, as the GTA-style LA river racing had a list of enemies that were pretty relentless. This chase sequence showed off the multi-angled camera gimmick nicely too, as it shows off explosions or an opponent's tactics to the side and back of you, that you otherwise would not have seen. Of all the sequences shown for the demo, however, my personal favorite was the interrogation scene. Played out as a timed-button mini-game, this segment allows Jack to change personalities and interview techniques to coerce a captured foe into telling him what he needs to know. But the only way to succeed at it is to successfully move the bad guy's heart rate meter into its "breaking point." Clever manipulation of calm, aggressive, and similar methods are the key to pulling this off.

Of course, the game wouldn't be truly the 24 experience unless you were up against the clock and that's exactly what you have to do. All 100 of the game's missions are timed experiences, the failure of which means you have to start all over again at your last success point and hope for better results the second time through. If played correctly with no errors, the game should take you roughly 24 hours to complete too, so for those of you who keep asking that question, you finally have your answer. Sadly, there's still no word yet on whether or not all of these 100-plus quests need to be completed in order to finish the game, but from what I've been able to ascertain so far, the likelihood of branching paths is pretty small. Hopefully we'll find out for sure in the approaching weeks.

Despite its early progress, 24 is a game that I'm really looking forward to -- if for no other reason, than the fact that the creative team is writing the dialogue and backstory for this episode just as they would for a real season (just check out the new movies below for some examples of how closely it resembles the show). Hopefully, the gameplay will be able to match the proven storytelling elements come ship time and a few of the concerns I had above will be addressed. We'll keep you updated as we find out.[/b]

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Hopefully theyll be able to capture the greatness of the TV Show, should be intresting, good to see what happened to the president between Day 2 and Day 3
Screw you... we havent even started Day 4 yet...

Oh well, looks like ill just have to wait for the DVD
My favourite Bauer moment?

First series when he shot the bad head guys on the boat jetty then shot their dead bodies while they were floating in the water. My gosh that was ruthless but I thought "He is the man!"

So I made a multiplayer character on Halo called Jack Bauer but nobody seemed to fear him. Wasn't the same wearing a green space suit
The Start of Season 2 was preety good - ecspecially his work with the Hacksaw...

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