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'Knack' for PS4 Hands On: Pixar-Level Fun

A knack for destruction

One of the PlayStation 4's strongest selling points is the way it targets core gamers rather than casual players or families. But one of the upcoming titles, a platformer (a third-person action game with a focus on reaching difficult spots through calculated jumps) called "Knack," should be a delight for kids, as it was for us when Tom's Guide recently went hands-on with a demo version of the game.

"Knack" looks and feels like something Pixar might come up with. You play as the titular Knack: a tiny, unassuming robot who has the potential to become so much more. From humble beginnings fighting simple sword-wielding goblins, Knack can eventually grow tall enough to take on armies and crush cities underfoot.

The demo we played begins on a colorful hillside overlooking a river. The graphics jump out immediately — for their simplicity, not their sophistication. Although they are very pretty, the lush greenery, haphazard wooden structures and flowing river look almost identical to what a PS3 could produce and are not a showcase for the PS4's graphical chops.

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Two goblins rush Knack almost immediately, but we could handle them with a combination of simple punches and an aerial strike. Combat is extremely simple, but it feels responsive and precise. Knack can dodge enemy strikes by dashing or jumping out of the way. He can also collect green crystals to fill up a super-move meter.

Although the environment's graphics look fairly standard, Knack's are quite impressive. When Knack gets hit (and he will, often), the PS4 gets to show off some of its graphical chops.

Knack's body is made up of thousands of tiny pieces surrounding a shiny core. Whenever he takes damage, he splits into all of his component parts before reassembling spontaneously. These are not canned animations. The PS4 can render and reassemble thousands of particles in real time, giving a unique look to every hit and reassembly.