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October 23, 2003
Dog's Life - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
31/10/2003SonyFrontier Developments1$79.95

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Chasing the chickens.
When you think about it man's best friend has really been shafted when it comes to video games. The only title to really feature a dog of late is Namco's action title Dead To Rights. But this game, Dog's Life doesn't just have a dog as a sidekick, but rather as the main character in the game. Certainly an interesting concept from the development team headed by David Braben the legendary developer that brought us classic games such as Frontier and Elite many years ago. (Just for your interest Frontier Developments is also currently working on Elite 4 at the moment for PC.)

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Sitting with the old man.
Dogs Life is an all-new 3D action-adventure in which players become Jake, a mischievous young dog who finds himself embroiled in an evil dog-napping plot. This is an epic quest to track down his best friend Daisy takes Jake all the way across the USA from his home in the sleepy Mid-West countryside, through scenic ski resorts, all the way to a bustling metropolis. Along the way Jake uncovers a sinister plot, hatched by the pooch-loathing Miss Peaches. As the adventure progresses, Jake matures from a lazy puppy into a true hero! OK, Dog's Life has a a silly plot, but this game is meant to be fun for the entire family, kids included.

The game is split into 18 locations within three different areas and each level features a combination of character-based, story driven gameplay, systematic challenges and varied mini-games. These mini-games aren't compulsory to complete the game but they may assist Jake in his quest. Dog's Life also includes more than 20 different breeds of dog to control and interact with, each with different traits and abilities.

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Cafe's usually have food!
Dog's Life isn't aimed at the hardcore adventure game but rather at the family looking for some light entertainment. Huge interactive environments allow the player to go anywhere and do anything at their leisure, interacting with a wide variety of both animal and human non-player characters. Players can switch at will from a third person view to "Smell-o-vision" a unique mode that provides a first-person canine view of the world, in which smells stand out as colours in an otherwise sepia environment which allows the player to experience the world through a dog’s eyes.

The player's success is influenced by how well they take care of Jake, and along the way they can choose to do anything a dog can - begging, stealing, fighting, chasing cats, marking territory, helping (and hindering), make sure you keep your pooper-scooper handy - all the food that Jake forages has to go somewhere!

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Cafe's usually have food!
Dog's Life showcases Frontier's sophisticated 'R-TAG' in-house animation technology, which delivers an instantaneous, smooth response to the player's control movements. R-TAG's subtle blending and layering of animations also allows Jake's health to be represented by his body language - so when Jake is hungry he slows down and looks forlorn, when he is well fed and happy he is perky and full of energy. Jake also gets dirty as he explores his environment, so the player needs to take their opportunities to keep Jake properly groomed, so that he gets as much free food and help as possible from the humans he encounters.

This is certainly one of the most interesting and original titles this year. David Braben knows how to make quality titles and Dog's Life, while aimed at the family market, should make for an interesting, and entertaining, experience.