by Brian Robbins

 When I was in the Sony booth, I got to check out one of their first party games: Beyond: Two Souls. I must admit, I haven’t really followed this title since it was announced last year. I’m a big fan of the creator’s previous game Heavy Rain, so this title was right up my alley. With great gameplay, sexy visuals and some of the best story telling in gaming, this is sure to be one of the best games to come out on the now elderly Playstation 3.

In this game, you’ll be playing as two separate characters. The first and main character is Jodie, who is voiced by the talented Ellen Page. The second character you’ll play as is a spirit/wisp named Aiden. A majority of the game is played with Jodie, and when she’s in a bind you’ll have to switch to Aiden to dispatch enemies around corners or mind-control one to finish another.

Like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls is loaded with quick time events. It seems to me the developers have perfected the art of these events, unlike in other games where you groan when you see a button appear and you’ll have to quickly press it. In this game, they’re actually fun and easy to appreciate. The quick time events take full advantage of all the Playstation 3’s controller features.

In the E3 playable demo the level was set in Somalia. As the level started I was controlling Jodie as she seemed to be guiding Salim (a local Somalian child) out of the city. Of course Salim isn’t completely useless; he’s carrying an Ak47 to dispatch foes or lay down covering fire. It was amusing to see the two characters interact since neither spoke the other’s language.

 In the beginning of the level both Jodie and Salim get pinned down by enemies. The only way to dispatch them is by switching over to Aiden. With Aiden, I was able to blast one of them with energy and choke the other two. At first the controls felt a little bit awkward because with Aiden you can fly all around the area, so it was hard to accurately move the spirit in the right direction. I can see this becoming a problem especially when the tutorials weren’t very helpful in guiding you toward the objective.

Besides impressing me with the gameplay, Beyond: Two Souls took me by surprised with the visuals. This game looks great and it’s great to see the PS3 pushed to the limit. The lighting system was incredibly beautiful, especially when you’d see the sun beaming down on Salim and Jodie as they were sneaking around the city. Sometimes there were issues with textures not loading on enemies or backgrounds during cutscenes but this can easily be worked out before launch.

Eventually, we reached a check point where we couldn’t progress any further because there were three guards protecting a pick-up truck. Using Aiden, I mind-controlled one of them to dispatch his companions. Jodie and Aiden hoped on the back of the pick-up truck and Aiden’s mind-controlled enemy took the wheel.

Things go south fast when enemies discover what’s going on; during the high speed chase the militia would jump on the back of the truck and you would have to deal with these guys one by one. What I really liked was the amount of control you had when taking these guys on. Using the left and right thumbsticks, Jodie would initiate and dodge and then you would press in the opposite direction to push or punch the bastard out of the truck. It felt like a true Indiana Jones moment, and that’s when this game works incredibly well.

After playing the game at this year’s E3, I’m highly confident this is going to be one of the blockbuster titles of this year. If they can fix some of the minor graphical issues and maybe polish out Aiden’s flying a little bit more we have a game of the year contender. If for some reason you haven’t bought a PlayStation 3 yet, now’s the time to get one at your local Slackers.