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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Review

Child of Eden (PS3)Child of Eden (Playstation 3)

Taking the legacy brought forth from games like Rez and Lumines forward, the highly-anticipated Child of Eden brings a new level of surreal beauty to the music game genre. With a very similar formula to its previous games, Q? Entertainment adds innovation in the form of motion control, to create an even more immersive and enveloping experience. The game is fairly easy to get into, with a simple system of shooting, chains and score multipliers to measure your success. Add in tons of unlockable content and you have a solidly entertaining experience not to be missed.

When producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi announced he would create a new title for the current generation of consoles, gamers were right to be excited. With a strong legacy of titles from the consistently excellent Q? Entertainment backing him up, there was little doubt something special was coming down the pike. The result of several yearsí development, Child of Eden is a perfect companion to the emergent motion controls that have become popular over the years. The gameís backstory involves Luna, the gameís heroine who you are trying to reconstruct on the internet. The network has evolved significantly over the years, but has become corrupted. Its your mission to purify the net and help Luna back to life by eliminating viruses you find during the course of your journey. As you unlock levels and remove these obstacles, youíll unlock her and she becomes a kind of pop-star, singing songs while sheís being reconstructed. The gameís feel is a bit more natural this time around, and you can unlock some of the creatures, such as space squids and sting-rays that you encounter.  While its visuals are a still a little bit abstract, the gameís reliance on more natural, organic creatures definitely makes it more accessible than some of Qís earlier titles. You definitely feel like youíre in a aquarium in space, convulsing with surreal visuals and bright colors. However, those who played Rez wonít feel completely adrift, since Child of Eden shares much of its approach and structure.

There are many familiar elements and the basic parameters set in Rez have mostly continued in this spiritual successor. You begin by pointing your shots using a basic reticule and immerse yourself in a screen overflowing with life and dangerous creatures. Many of them are there to please the eye, but others are dangerous viruses you need to shoot at and destroy in order to purify the environment. Firing at the enemies randomly wonít do you any good in Child of Eden, You need a bit more of a nuanced approach. The first skill you need to learn is how to use the tracers to maximize your score. You do this by targeting the purple object viruses that appear on screen. Once you have done this, you can release a single shot that destroys all these at the same time. Another thing you need to look out for are the special items. One of these brings you extra life when hit, but they donít come on screen that often, so you have to learn where they are and go ahead. The other is called euphoria which clears the screen of most enemies at once, but isnít effective against certain types. You earn score multipliers by hitting enemies in this way, and can add even more points but unleashing targeted attacks in time to the music. Itís not as easy as it sounds since many enemies will converge on your position simultaneously, requiring a quick burst of speed to defeat them. The game gradually builds in intensity as you play through the levels, and most begin at an almost dream-like pace, increasing in intensity as you get nearer to the end-stage boss creatures. Fighting these bosses takes some effort since they attack in long duration and take many hits to defeat. After youíve beaten them, your score is finalized and you can earn extra items and unlockable content.

Child of Eden Playing Child of Eden with the Move controller allows for a comfortable amount of precision and smooth movement. The game seems ideally suited to the controller and feels very good when you play it. You can set the level of vibration and movement in the calibration mode, which is a fairly quick process that sets up the game nicely. The Move controller offers a responsive and fluid experience and makes Child of Eden feel natural in your hands. We attempted to play the game using a standard PS3 controller, but we found the results left a lot to be desired, since the game wasnít designed for it. Trying to play with a standard Dual Shock significantly reduced accuracy and made the game feel tedious and frustrating. However, when using the Move controller, things improved significantly. We found that the reticle movements, and shots fired were quite a bit more accurate and the motion control made things much more intuitive. This technique was made much easier using the tracking system, where you can effortlessly glide the controller over the screen to locate foes. The ability to locate enemies this way reduced a lot of repetition typical of shooting games. You can play through the game in practice mode as well, which is a good way of memorizing enemy patterns to maximize your score and ranking in each level. After each level, youíre given a star ranking as well, and this is important because additional levels can only be unlocked by earning a number of stars. This can be frustrating early on because youíll find yourself repeating levels, but with a little practice, you can definitely improve your odds.

Child of Eden is definitely one of the more unique games on the market. Itís mx of surreal, techno-infused visuals and thumping techno score make it feel more like a dance party than a traditional game. The minor story keeps things from feeling too abstract, and the main character of Luna is an appealing girl whoís appearance signaling the end of a level is one of both relief and enjoyment. Child of Edenís structure is fairly simple once you get the hang of its nuances, and while its not the deepest or longest-lasting game, thereís enough unlockable content to keep you busy for a night or two. The gameís easy accessibility is more pronounced when you compare the Move and standard controller modes. Its definitely something youíll want in your collection. While the design doesnít evolve the style and approach seen in Rez dramatically, thereís enough of an enhancement to deserve at least a solid playthrough. Child of Eden is one of the more interesting and enjoyable titles on the market, with a solid mix of music and visuals that make it one of the more original and beautiful titles produced for the Motion control market. You can see that a lot of work went into the design and appearance of its many creatures, and the gameís overall feel is one of a surreal journey through space. Itís a surprisingly surreal and relaxing experience, despite the fact that youíre constantly shooting things. This sounds contradictory, but the game balances its frenetic action with soothing undersea and natural environments, giving it an interesting aesthetic. While this approach is probably not going to appeal to everyone, Child of Eden is an immersive and enjoyable title that creates an interesting hybrid of shooter and music genres.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B+

> Related Reviews

Lumines (PSP)
Qubed (Xbox 360)
Rez (Playstation 3)

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