Half western, half horror title Darkwatch and TV show-based The Shield will be among the key titles on Sammy Studios' E3 stand this year, as the publisher shows off its biggest ever portfolio of games - including some from US-based internal development, and others courtesy of Sammy Japan's licensing efforts. Sure, it's not the sort of line-up that will have Electronic Arts quaking in its enormous boots, but it is well worth keeping an eye on.
Darkwatch, in particular, looks like it has the potential to be ace. It's the sort of bizarre-o concept that either works really well or fails really, really badly, and we're hoping it's the former. Described as an FPS that combines the Western and Horror genres, it puts players in the role of half-vampire Jericho Cross, who has to hunt down and stake a vampire lord who minions have overrun the Wild West. Reports that his minions include undead versions of John Wayne are thought to be wide of the mark. Not content with giving the game a few booths and some scantily clad female vamps, as would be traditional, Sammy actually plans to construct a life-size replica of a haunted church from the game, which will host live demonstrations of the game. Tickets will be required, but they're free to attendees. The game is due out next spring.
Joining Darkwatch at the trade show will be the aforementioned adaptation of The Shield (in development at Point of View, and described as a lost episode of the TV show - much like the Buffy titles). It's also due out in spring 2005. Other titles on Sammy's schedule are all due this year, and include Spy Fiction (steal the appearance and characteristics of any character to aid stealth; due from Access Games in September), Iron Phoenix (wire-fu Xbox Live beat-'em-up with LAN tournament for attendees; due by the end of the year), and Guilty Gear Isuka (builds on previous GGs with four simultaneous players, combo customisation and new characters/arenas; due from Arc Systems Works by Christmas).
Notable absentees include the Xbox version of Guilty Gear XX #Reload, which is due out in Japan this month. 1UP reports that Sammy has no current plans to release it in North America, which is a shame, but Sammy is giving away a #Reload arcade cabinet at this year's show - all you have to do is attend the Darkwatch presentation to be in with a chance of winning. We'll be sure to put your name in the hat (we're good like that).
Sammy Studios' (Booth #424, South Hall) E3 line-up in full: