Pax East 10: Hands-on Slider, a Move launch title

Fleeing from the mafia. It’s a tired construct. Even John Grisham has tackled it. But running from suited-brutes in office chairs and vacuum cleaners? Ah. Now there’s something new that even the mighty Grisham hasn’t exploited.

Slider is, ostensibly, a game about running from the mafia on winding hills in quick-moving office and household equipment. It’s one of the first titles publicly shown by Sony’s Japan Studios for use with the PlayStation Move hardware. And if the pitch didn’t give you an indication already — game is weird.

Wait, I’m Choosing to Run from the Mafia on an Office Chair?

The demo we saw last afternoon in Boston didn’t provide context, so our assumption is that Slider is a simple, quirky, and non-offensive offering catered to those with Move hardware and a deep hatred of mini-game collections. But don’t expect a deep experience. Slider sits somewhere between the ease of Crazy Taxi and a mechanic-light version of the Tony Hawk franchise.

The two demo levels start you, as a businessman or woman, on top of a hill in the middle of a colorful city. The goal is to slide down through city in order to reach a white van sitting inconspicuously in the middle of a flat road. Along the way, there are pedestrians to be maimed, cars and rails to grind on, collectibles to nab, mafia members to smash with a roundhouse kick, and objects to duck under.

Goofy Face, Cartoon Style

What gives Slider its pop certainly isn’t the play. It’s the animation. The businessman’s face contorts in wildly different ways depending on your choice of action. If you choose to duck under a roadblock, for instance, he suddenly jerks back in his office chair, his face now staring directly at you, and opens his maw and eyes with the widest of expressions of surprised horror.

The HUD on the screen includes a real-time picture of the man’s mug, so even when his back is to you, you’ll still be able to catch his extreme looks of anguish, hope and anger. His head is just that vital to the experience.

The quirky action mirrors his playfulness to the degree that the environments do. Cars, buildings, and the general scenery have an air of good humor, both warm and inviting. The color, in general, is vibrant and inviting as well.

Easy, But Not That Fun

Like a good skateboard, you’ll need to propel your office chair forward. To do so, you flick the motion controller up and down. In order to steer left and right, you flick the controller sideways. Jumping is an upward flick, while the roundhouse kick and the ducking maneuver are controller by the Action Button and T button respectively.

Sadly, the game is a jerk. It doesn’t appreciate my swings from left to right to up, and often thrust me into walls or into other pieces of brilliant geometry like cars and lightposts. But even in the precious seconds where I could get the businessman to work with me instead of against me, the game gave off the feel of being hollow. Sliding down a short hill on an office chair, grinding on rails and kicking mafia men is interesting and involving for only a short time.

At Least There’s Some Booty, Right?

The businesswoman — who might be a secretary or Chun-Li’s forgotten sister — rides on a rolling vacuum cleaner in teeny-tiny short shorts that expose the lower part of her ass. The HD fidelity is great and all, but it’s … weird to watch her HD buttocks for an extended period of time, no less in a game about running from the mafia from the top of office equipment.

Slider is set to be a PS Move launch title. We’re not sure if the game will be a full retail release of a downloadable, but the “Online Manual” option in the menu seems to pin it as the latter. The demo we saw, by the way, was in pre-alpha stage. There’s still time to layer more stuff into the structure of the game, and more importantly, smooth out the lackluster Move controls.

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