|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telos International||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telos International||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: MMOG||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
April 2, 2009 - Even though the conference is more geared towards developers, with the plethora of games press converging on the Moscone Center in San Francisco, GDC would seem like an excellent time to show off a company's upcoming products. One company in particular that took advantage of this opportunity was Telos International. While we weren't able to get our hands on it ourselves, Telos brought along an alpha version of City of Sinners & Saints and walked us through exactly what we can expect when it is released this June.
If you've never heard of City of Sinners & Saints (COSAS) before, think MySpace mixed with an interactive cartoon world. All of the features that one would expect to be present in a social networking product will also be included in COSAS. Players can make their own profiles, meet and add friends, chat, share photos, and take advantage of several features unique to COSAS as well.
One of the most important aspects of COSAS is creating your own avatar to represent yourself. There are two main options for how you want your character to act and be perceived. Of course, I'm referring to whether you want to be thought of as a sinner or a saint. Each choice will come with its own set of clothing options, quests, and Animotes, but more on those last two in a bit. Players who choose a sinner character will have a wide selection of darker clothing to pick from, while those who select saint will be granted much brighter and cheerier choices. However, for those who just can't make up their minds, COSAS will allow you to have both a sinner and saint character.
Thankfully, whatever clothing you choose for your character during its creation certainly isn't permanent. There is an in-game currency in COSAS that can be used to purchase just about anything including drinks, gifts for other users, living spaces, and clothing. You'll start off with a small amount of this money but can earn more by completing quests that you'll find scattered about Manatee Bay. One of the examples we were given was called the Timid Tourist, which has you collecting postcards from all over town to give to a traveler, who is too afraid to step foot outside of a bus, in exchange for some cash. While perhaps not incredibly deep, these quests should at least be humorous distractions, since they were all written by sketch comedy writers. Players can expect fifty missions at launch, and Telos claimed that more would be added after COSAS's release.
Animotes are unique to COSAS and are an interesting spin on an established method of conveying one's feelings. Instead of just sending someone a picture of a facial expression to let them know your thoughts, COSAS will utilize a short animation of either a sinner or saint character, depending on which type you are playing as. Of the handful we were able to witness, they seemed to be fairly humorous. While no finalized number of Animote options was given, hopefully there will be a large number at launch and more added after the release to keep them from becoming too stale and repetitive.
No matter whether you go with a sinner or saint character, there will be plenty for you to do in the city of Manatee Bay. Aside from finding and completing quests, players can also look forward to shopping at a variety of stores. The city will include a multitude of stores in which to purchase in-game items, but in an interesting twist, players will also be able to access real-world online stores in these shops as well. So, if you are in a store trying to buy a television for your virtual apartment and realize you'd really like to pick up an HD set for your actual living space, it will only require a few clicks and you won't even need to leave the game to do so.
However, if acquiring more virtual and/or realistic possessions doesn't sound appealing to you, there are also plenty of places in Manatee Bay to just hang out and have a good time with other users. There will be an arcade in the city that will contain thousands of casual flash-based games for players to enjoy and master. Players can also meet up at a dance hall to show off some of their dance moves to a wide variety of music, or even purchase a few drinks at Black Randy's Pub and demonstrate why you should never try to dance after consuming several stiff beverages. Everything in the city is also said to have its own back-story, making the world seem much more believable and more interesting to explore.
With its unique cartoony visuals, quirky sense of humor, and inclusion of all of the features one would expect from a social networking product (as well as some unexpected bonuses), COSAS appears to be an interesting proposition for anyone looking to become part of a new and interactive community. Of course, only time will tell if COSAS will manage to attract a large crowd of users and advertisers to make the product a true success story. Still, if you like cartoony visuals, laughing, and chatting with your friends, be sure to check out COSAS this June when it is slated for release.
CCC Staff Contributor