Preview: Watchmen unveiled!

Live demo of the just-announced Watchmen game!

The best part about last Friday was unarguably the Dark Knight. The second best part was the first Watchmen trailer that debuted during the coming attractions, with 300 director Zack Snyder set to unleash the awesome next March. Based on the renowned graphical novel series of the same name, the anticipation will surely reach uber heights as we gear up to the film's release next year.

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So it comes as no surprise that Warner Bros Interactive is publishing a Watchmen game alongside the movie. But what is surprising is just how stunning the game is looking already, given how early in the development cycle this new title is. Developed by Deadline Games (Total Overdose), the independent studio doesn't have the greatest track record. But if Watchmen, and it's recently announced Death and a .45 are any indication, the studio could be about to make its mark.

Originally set in 1985, Watchmen takes place in a nuclear war-themed alternate history. The game is based 10 years prior, and focused on the past lives of characters from the film, with playable characters Nite-Owl and Rorschach. Both character models look great, and being set in the 1970s, these guys are in tip-top shape, a sharp contrast to their later lives.

Watchmen (the game) is, at its core, a gritty brawler with a strong emphasis on combat. I was lucky enough to get a special live demo of the game at last week's E3, watching as Nite-Owl and Rorschach engaged in [split-screen] cooperative combat, grilling thugs in the game's dark streets. Being M-rated, Watchmen spares no expense with blood and brutal combat. But the fighting engine looks simple enough for casual players to land vicious combos, and I was told the game's engine can handle as many as 20 enemies onscreen. Simple button presses and combinations unleash attacks and combos, and specially timed counters will let loose powerful special attacks.

Watchmen is being developed using a proprietary engine, which emphasizes rag-doll physics and stunning visuals, making the combat stand out, and raw motion capture is being used to create a realistic sense of action. The rag-doll effects work great when punching or kicking one enemy into another, where both foes will tumble pleasingly.

Warner Bros has confirmed that Watchmen will be a downloadable title for PSN and Xbox Live, but is also slated for PC and PS2. No details yet on whether or not it will see a disc-based release. No images or screenshots have been provided, but we're hoping Warner will deliver the goods shortly. Stay tuned!