Killer Freaks from Outer Space is an appropriately ridiculous title for a game that sees you being hunted by, among other things, green, lizard-skinned alien beasties with grinning mouths full of razor-sharp teeth. They look a lot like the Raving Rabbids that like to give Rayman such a hard time, something the game’s developer even admits is at least partially intentional. That’s not the only alien featured in the upcoming Wii U-exclusive first-person shooter that Ubisoft showed off during a Nintendo roundtable at E3, but it’s the only one that popped up in the demo.
There are actually two sides to this competitive multiplayer game, but the more out-there concept is easier to grasp once you’ve got a feel for what the basic FPS gameplay entails. Killer Freaks picks up after some sort of alien invasion of Earth has occurred. Or, as a dev from the Ubi Montpellier team put it during the roundtable, “a big wad of pulsating pus has traveled through space and time to invade our planet.”
The demo showed to gathered attendees at the E3 roundtable was set in a trashed version of London at night. Our alien hunter started off with a nasty-looking Magnum-like six-shooter, but over the course of the demo, he also pulled out a couple of other weapons, including a standard shotgun, a far less standard lightning-spewing weapon, and a downright alien cluster bomb-shooting… something. At one point, he took to the air with the help of a jetpack.
As you’ve probably figured out from the above descriptions, Killer Freaks has a very light-hearted sense of style. This also appears to extend to the gameplay. As our demo-er mowed down the alien hordes, score markers would pop up on the screen with additional rewards being doled out for headshots and kill chains. There was no indication of what purpose these points might serve beyond earning a high score, but the possibility of weapon/equipment/character upgrades doesn’t seem out of the question.
The big Wii U selling point, for the FPS portion of the game at least, revolves around how you line up your shots. The left analog stick on the console’s unique tablet controller handle forward/backward steps and left/right strafes while aiming is relegated entirely to moving the tablet as a whole, something that the dev is referring to as “spatial gameplay.” The game’s action is beamed to the six-inch touchscreen, so you watch that as you turn your body to line up shots.
There was no hands-on time with Killer Freaks, but this “move the tablet” component of the FPS portion of the game comes off as a little gimmicky. It’s absolutely cool to watch, and perhaps offers just the right balance to sate the appetites of those who prefer a mouse and keyboard to a standard gamepad, but the need to use the touchscreen as your primary display seems like it might put off people who enjoy a big screen gaming experience. Fortunately, this is just one component of the game, and Ubi Montpellier will presumably (hopefully?) allow players to use more standard FPS controls.
The OTHER side of Killer Freaks seems much more interesting. The game’s multiplayer mode pits gun-toting humans against alien hordes. Players on the invaders’ team won’t have to worry about getting dirty on the ground, however. You play an alien commander instead, and the Wii U tablet is your chief tool for plotting out strategies.
Alien commanders get a top-down view of the entire battlefield on the tablet’s screen. The locations of all humans are marked with little, round portraits. As the leader of the invading forces, it is your job to direct the course of the action by literally dropping your troops onto the battlefield in whatever locations happen to make the most sense, strategically.
Arrayed out on the left side of the touchscreen are selectable unit types, all of which were variations on the Rabbids-like beasties for this particular demo. You tap on the desired alien type, choose a spot on the battlefield to spawn it, and boom… alien invasion. No details were offered on how alien commanders will be limited in the forces that can be deployed, but the basic concept of pitting FPS players on the ground against the more real-time strategy-focused alien faction makes novel use of the Wii U’s unique features.