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October 31 2007
The Golden Compass - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
7/12/2007SegaSegaShiny Entertainment
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
1None$99.95

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Will this game get a frosty reception?
Before we start the preview of this game let me tell you a little about the movie, or indeed who is involved. The Golden Compass is a New Line film based on the first book in the award-winning trilogy His Dark Materials from author Philip Pullman (in fact this book was called Northern Lights in much of the world outside America). The movie though has been directed by Chris Weitz and stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Eva Green (who was James Bond's woman in Casino Royale!), Australia's Magda Szubanski, Christopher Lee, Sam Elliot and the voice of Ian McKellen. It's quite a cast and with a budget rumoured to be in the range of $US150-200 million it's a movie which will be heavily promoted upon release this Christmas. Before you continue though you should really check out the stunning trailer which is available at this link.

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You may want to avoid electricity.
The storyline is set in a parallel world where giant armoured bears rule a kingdom, beautiful witches fly through the frozen skies, and human beings’ souls manifest themselves as animals ("daemons"), talking bears fight wars, and Gyptians and witches co-exist. At the center of the story is Lyra (played in the movie and voiced in the game by newcomer Dakota Blue Richards), a 12-year-old girl who starts out trying to rescue a friend who's been kidnapped by a mysterious organization known as the Gobblers - and winds up on an epic quest to save not only her world, but ours as well.

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Just hanging around...
So the good news for gamers is that Sega has picked up the rights publish a game based on the property, and it will hit the shelves in time for the movie this December. Shiny Entertainment in America are actually handling the development and have had complete access to the development of the movie including artwork, access to the sets and filming locations and also the CG artists and modelers. The game takes place across 11 missions, 9 of which are based on scenes in the upcoming movie, and two of which are from the novel.

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You may want to avoid the fires.
In the game players can assume the role of Lyra, a young girl, along with her daemon Pantalaimon (Pan), as she travels through the frozen wastes of the North collecting special items in order to explore, evade and deceive her way through confrontations to rescue a friend kidnapped by a mysterious organisation known as The Gobblers. Lyra can also use her daemon and collaborate with in-game characters to journey through an epic quest to save not only her world, but ours as well.

Gamers can also take on the character of Iorek Byrnison, a great armoured polar bear who joins the quest. Iorek battles to protect Lyra during their journey using a riding mechanic and special attacks to fend off enemies, players will also be able to unlock secrets and mini-games using a mysterious truth-telling golden compass device called an alethiometer. The Golden Compass has 13 vast locations to explore including all-new, breath-taking environments not seen in the books or the film, on this massive journey of collaboration, exploration and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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Another screenshot from the game.
Graphics in The Golden Compass have certainly improved significantly over the last couple of months with a lot more detail evident in the backgrounds, and on the main characters. The game will use scenes for the movie to flesh out the story through a series of cut-scenes. At this stage we're not sure how this will work with chapters created for this game, perhaps by the games release the developers will change to pre-rendered scenes, or remove the film footage entirely. In terms of audio Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra) and Freddie Highmore (Pan) have provided dialogue for the game and we expect the theme music from the movie to be carried into the game as well.

There is still a lot we don't know and haven't seen about this game, and indeed a lot of that will be due to the restrictions on what Sega can reveal so as to not spoil the movie. Expect The Golden Compass to be released in stores this December through Sega Australia.