Although you might associate Disney with their animated franchises or their sugary-sweet TV shows, the Disney Booth at E3 (while it did have more than a few demo stations for the newest Hannah Montana, Jonas, and Wizards of Waverly Place games) had quite a few titles that older and hardcore gamers can appreciate.
Going into the booth I had one basic goal: to get my hands on Split/Second. This is the new racing IP from Disney that is half Stuntman, half Burnout, but all action. The basic gameplay revolves around your ability to race around a track and basically blow up everything you can in order to thwart the efforts of other players. Although the build we were able to play at Disney's booth was pre-alpha, it looked good, and we were able to blow up a variety of structures quite easily. Although the game isn't slated for release until 2010, so far it is looking very good, and I was definitely impressed with the early build of this racer.
Dark Void made a re-appearance after last year's E3, and it seemed to be quite a different game after 12 months more work. Disney's grand investment in Western development (and a too-rare venture into a new IP) had practically been reinvented, with a particular focus on integrating the shooting and flying elements into a single experience, rather than having segments dedicated to each. The jetpack boasts the ability to shoot now, giving an aerial combat feel vaguely reminiscent of Airtight's earlier Crimson Skies.
Once we were able to part from the very early build of Split/Second, we got our hands-on a nearly complete version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Although this title has already been released in Japan, the American version is still being localized. The game's battle system bears a striking resemblance to the original Kingdom Hearts, and the menu-based system works well on the handheld. The rep I talked to about the game wouldn't confirm any locations past Agrabah (which is the land in which the demo took place). While the game seems to feature some classic gameplay, we don't really know much about the story (except that it will revolve around Roxas' continued involvement in the Kingdom Hearts universe.
Although we were definitely content with just seeing Kingdom Hearts and Split/Second, the folks at Disney really wanted us to see one more title: G-Force. This game is an adaptation of the movie of the same name, featuring a pretty straightforward platforming with a bunch of super-spy guinea pigs. However, the twist is that you can play the game in full 3D with a pair of specialty glasses. The 3D mechanic, while interesting, didn't really add anything to the gameplay, and the 3D effects were minimal at best. Still, this game should appeal to the younger sect, and hopefully the 3D mechanic is improved before the game's release.
Although Disney had plenty of other titles to show off at their booth like Toy Story Mania and Jonas, there were a few games for the hardcore audience, and I have to say that I am really excited for Split/Second, especially. Who says Disney just makes games for kids?
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor