E3 2012 Impressions

6 06 2012

Dead or Alive 5 (PS3): Plays like Dead or Alive. Not sure what else to say. Pretty ladies that get sweaty and dirty.

DmC (PS3): I was pretty curious about giving this a spin to see if it was up to snuff and I think Ninja Theory is beginning to mold this game into something worth paying attention to. The combat controls were a jarring adjustment for me because of some key differences that we’ve come to expect from the standard Devil May Cry series: There is no lock-on button and evasive rolls are scripted to L1 and R1, which took a lot of getting used to. Dante defaults to his good ol’ handguns on square and sword on triangle but some of the conventions have changed, like using the circle button for launcher attacks. The most intriguing part of the new combat system is Angel and Demon mode, which are essentially modifiers that transmogrify Dante’s moveset on the fly by holding down L2 or R2 respectively. Angel and Demon mode cause Dante’s weapon to physically change from the normal sword to either an oversized sickle or a heavy battleaxe. Additionally, it changes the square button as well from standard gunfire to a vertebrae-esque grappling weapon which strongly reminds me of Nero’s devil bringer. These facets require a fair amount of finger acrobatics but there seems like depth and complexity buried beneath. There are combat elements and puzzle elements that are color coded to clue the player in as to which moveset will be effective in certain situations. The visuals were surreal and a departure from what one would expect of typical DMC style…but DmC is carving its own niche and is beginning to grow more comfortable in its own skin it seems. Dante himself seems to have more of the attitude and swagger that one would expect in this showing, as though he himself is settling in to his own shoes.

God of War Ascension multiplayer (PS3): Yeah, I’m going to talk about my own game, wanna fight about it? We had a really good showing today and I think the reception was overwhelmingly positive. As a quick overview you enter the battlefield as either a Spartan or Trojan warrior, champions of the gods all and on a blood quest to gain favor with their aligned deity. There is a small taste of the character customization system, where players can choose different armor, weapons, and magic abilities which grant unique attributes or techniques. The match itself is set in a forsaken desert temple in the shadow of the cyclopean titan Polyphemus straining against his bindings like a mad animal. Scattered across the level are various subweapons, power ups, capture points and sinister traps all of which the cunning opportunist can use to his advantage. The basic combat itself has a healthy depth while being true to GoW gameplay, players must mix light attacks, heavy attacks, grapples, blocks, parries and evasive dodges to counter opponents’ tactics and prevail over the enemy. The gore that one would expect is duly delivered; one can scarcely throw a stone without hitting someone being disemboweled, dismembered, bisected, or getting their skull shattered. At the very end of the match, if you are true champion of the gods, you slice the face of a titan in half with a spear infused with the very might of Olympus. It’s good stuff if I say so myself.

Persona 4 Arena (PS3): It’s a purdy 4 button fighter from Arc System Works. In true Arc System Works fashion, you must internalize and master various eclectic button combinations for moves and system mechanics that you’ve never heard of or seen in any other fighting game and the screen is smothered with icons, gauges, and symbology that must be deciphered like a foreign language. All I know about this game is the grab character fights with a folding chair and his instakill move is called “Brofist.” Tempting.

NintendoLand (Wii U): Being an exhibitor at a trade show has its perks, like not having to beat the crowd to stand in a 2-hour-long line. So I figured it would be a good time to scrutinize Nintendo’s new piece of bastard tech the Wii U. Their centerpiece for the show as a compilation game called NintendoLand which will likely be a launch window offering for the system, featuring 12 minigames drawn from various IP that will showcase some of the potential for the new system’s unique control offerings, 5 of which were on display. First let’s look at the controller:

Controller: I wanted to hate this thing for being fat, unweildy, and grotesque, but it ended up impressing me. The unit is surprisingly light for its size, and the screen is actually very very nice. The motion control capabilities on the device were also fairly impressive, I’d say a notch above the sensitivity and fidelity of the Wii MotionPlus. What is perhaps a concern is that the thing has no wriststrap or other safety device to speak of…one couldn’t help but notice how gingerly the apparatus was handed over by the booth workers. This seems like you could make some expensive mistakes with this thing, especially after playing with buttered snails and astroglide.

Console: Looks like it has a small, compact footprint and the graphics are up to snuff…which is to say it is now simply comparable to the other competing systems. Saw Ninja Gaiden 3 running on it and it looked pretty damn good.

Animal Crossing Sweet Day: Sounds emasculating, looks emasculating, is hilariously fun. This little gem handily demonstrates the Wii U’s potential for asymmetric play and diverse player experiences. In this game, 4 players use sideways Wii remotes on a team while the 5th mans the tablet and uses his own screen. The 4 players have to work together and navigate a small maze area and gather 50 candy pieces in total while trying to outmaneuver the two guard pawns used by the tablet player, who controls both simultaneously with both analog sticks. Obscenely simple fun, but I can see good things in store for this game especially if they bundle the system with a handle of Johnnie Walker Black Label (you can have that one on me, Nintendo).

Takamaru’s Ninja Castle: Showcases the motion control and sensitivity of the tablet well. Plays like an arcade gun game, except you hold the tablet ipad style using motion control to aim and use flicking motions on the touch screen to jettison shuriken into a posse of incompetent ninjas who allow themselves to be seen. I also really dig the aesthetic in this and other NintendoLand entries, kind of a papercraft/origami look that is quaint yet servicable.

Legend of Zelda Battle Quest: Basically a coop rail shooter where some players control swords to hack through the front lines and one player uses the motion control tablet to snipe with arrows. Pretty cool but looks like it would be exhausted quickly.

Donkey Kong Crash Course: The only solo game of the bunch and a real tough mother. In this game you control the most fragile rolling cart on earth and use tilt controls to (very) carefully navigate through a multitiered roller coaster fun house of fiendish design. Compellingly challenging and relentlessly demanding; you go too fast you die, you go too slow you die, you go too hard you die, you go too soft you die, you die, you die, you die. Not recommended for people with Parkinsons or ADHD.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion: A fairly simple little party game with a brilliant concept: 4 players control ghost hunters in a labyrinthine top-down view and the 5th player with the tablet and his own screen stalks them relentlessly looking for openings to murder them. Of course, the ghost is invisible to the 4 main players. The humans have flashlights which reveal the ghost and deplete his hit points, and also can be used to revive fallen players. However, the flashlights have diminishing power and require battery pickups that drop randomly. The game is on a timer which gives incentive for the humans to split up which the ghost can then exploit.

Batman Arkham City Armored Edition: Same game but with gimmicky new cool stuff intergrated with the tablet controller: Motion control batarangs, real-time map screen that’s always open, and bat computer all at the fingertips…might be cool but according to the Rocksteady guy there it’s basically the same game…May be well worth it for Wiii U adopters who haven’t yet played Arkham City (btw, you should be slapped if this is the case).

Aliens Colonial Marines: Floor playable, but I didn’t get a chance to try…dammit. What I did see was that there is a team deatmatch type mode where one side controls the swarming xenomorphs. Saw that there was a merciful 3rd-person camera for the bugs which will hopefully help mitigate the throwing-up-between-matches dizziness problem of previous games. I am just really really hoping this doesn’t turn out to be Aliens vs. Predator -Predator.

Street Fighter x Tekken (Vita): Exactly what you’d expect. Tried it out, didn’t make me want to buy a Vita. I got too spoiled on having 2 shoulder buttons on one side and the dpad/analog still don’t feel right for a fighting game.

Playstation All Stars Battle Royale (PS3): Didn’t play, but noticed the inclusion of Big Daddy of Bioshock fame which has very interesting implications…namely that this game is not at all limited to PS exclusive franchises and now the door has been blown wide open and literally anyone could show up in this game. The imagination wanders far when considering what exactly the roster will look like when the game rolls out in Q4. Could be legendary.

Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed III, Beyond, Black Ops 2, Tomb Raider, Ni no Kuni: Trailers look hot.

That’s all I had time for and I’ll likely be working for the rest of the show…let me know caught your guys’ fancy



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