Monday, July 25, 2011

Comic Con Impressions

I spent two days at San Diego Comic Con and gamed as much as I physically could. Without any dilly dallying, let's get to my impressions of the yet unreleased games I played:

Gears of War 3 - to be released September 20, 2011
I was afforded the opportunity to play Hoard mode in the new Gears of War title. In this mode, teams of players build defenses against incoming hoards of enemies in order to defend themselves, not unlike Zombie mode in Call of Duty. The main differentiator here are the amount of items you can buy to assist you, including barriers, turrets, and traps. Think Zombie mode meets tower defense game with Gears of War combat. Quite an interesting combination and one that I think will keep gamers busy for some time.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - to be released Q4 of 2011
Link’s latest adventure is, without a doubt, the most polished Zelda game to date. The developers felt so confident in their Wii Motion Plus controls that they are an integral part of the combat. Some enemies require you to hit them from certain angles to get at their weak point, and others block some kinds of attacks, forcing you to try swinging in a different way. These new controls may jar older players like me who are used to wildly swinging at something until it dies, but I believe it’s for the better. The accuracy adds an entirely new dimension, challenging dimension to the combat. The puzzles are like any other Zelda—Hit this diamond to open that door, then it shuts and locks behind you, you must defeat an enemy, then are released with a useful item. I got to fiddle with the Beetle item, which is like a remote controlled plane, in the demo and it works splendidly and has very natural controls. The art style of this game is also brighter than the last game, which makes for interesting visuals.

Mario Kart 3DS - to be released Holiday Season of 2011
What can I say? It was Mario Kart on the 3DS. Take Mario Kart DS and add in hang gliders when your kart jumps, and you have the new title. Not much new here, but I suppose if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, as the uncouth say.

Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D - to be released in 2011
I loved the original title, but Big Boss’ first outing on the 3DS may be one to skip. The controls take after that of Peace Walker or Portable Ops, in which the ABXY buttons control the camera and the stick controls the movement. Controls like this make me very excited for the Vita, as shooters really are better with two thumb sticks. Perhaps the controls take some getting used to, but after 10 minutes of fiddling around with them, I could take it no longer.

Asura’s Wrath - to be released 2012
I’ve only read a few things about this game, but the demo has convinced me to buy it upon release. The combat in the game is equal parts God of War and Star Fox 64. I know that sounds confusing, but there are combat sequences in which the combat is very fast paced and melee based, and others in which you must shoot down objects before they get to you; in both type of combat, there are also timed button events to perform special attacks. In the boss fight I played, Asura was fighting some obese god in three different forms, each getting progressively bigger and scarier. The different segments in the fight are broken up by Asura performing a Burst Attack, which is a special move that signals the end of one combat segment and beginning of another. After a few Burst Attacks, Asura had transformed from a beefy demigod to a beefy demigod with 6 arms, and the fat man had progressed from slightly taller than Asura to slightly smaller than the Sun. The drawing-type art style only adds to the appeal of this game, and it’s one I’m now incredibly excited about owning.

Sonic Generations - to be released November 2011
Had I not been in public, I would have wept openly. Sonic Team finally got it right. Sonic Generations does both types of Sonic gaming I love and does them better than they’ve ever been done before. Classic Sonic’s stages are just like the original games on the Sega Genesis, but slightly faster. The pace strikes a wonderful balance between slow and fast paced. In Sonic 4, I felt as if I was constantly running through molasses and sometimes in Sonic 3, I felt as if I was going so fast, there was no way to know if my next jump would be my last. Modern Sonic’s stages are akin to those of Sonic Adventure in that they’re in 3 dimensions, incredibly fast paced, and involve homing attacks and quick moves to take out your enemies. Again, Sonic Team finally got the speed right in this game, as it goes from fast and fun to blisteringly quick and nerve wracking, keeping the player’s palms sweaty and adrenaline pumping. It’s so refreshing to see the Blue Blur back where he belongs—in a good game.

Batman Arkham City - to be released October 18th, 2011
Really, this game is more of the same. The pieces I played were like Arkham Asylum, only with a few additional gadgets. Combat felt identical to the previous game, as did sneaking and moving around. The only notable addition was the ability to use the grappling hook while gliding. This feature was one I did not know I wanted until they added it in and now that I have it, I cannot think of how I managed to get around before. Arkham City seems to be Arkham Asylum 1.5, which is not a bad thing at all. Adding in new gadgets and villains were all this series really needed as it was already phenomenal in its first outing.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 - to be released November 15, 2011
Again, this is a game that doesn’t have much new with it. It’s really nothing more than DLC addons to the original game. Nothing differentiates this title from the original except the additional characters.

Twisted Metal - to be released October 4, 2011
Fans of the car destruction series have been waiting quite a long time for this one. Not since Twisted Metal Black, released shortly after the Playstation 2, has a Twisted Metal title been released on a home console. This game is much like the older titles, which is both good and bad. The graphics have been updated and look like a modern Playstation 3 game—great, high definition characters and objects shaded different colors of brown, something I wish would go away. Additionally, you know how in the last 5 or so years, every racing game now has a trigger button as the accelerator? Twisted Metal doesn’t, because it’s still square. Once I got over this though, I fell right back into the destruction of the old days. With the addition of a hand brake button, allowing for super-sharp turns, and new weapons, Twisted Metal is shaping up to be the next generation version of the classic titles that fans desire. I just hope they allow controller configuration, otherwise racing game fans will be sorely lost for their first few maps. I know what I’ve said reflects my excitement for the game poorly, but rest assured, I’m ready to get back in the driver seat and, oh how do they say it, “pwn some noobs?”

Resistance 3 - to be released September 6th, 2011
I bought the original two games because they were the best shooters at the time on PS3. That’s not saying much as they were also some of the only shooters. Upon reflection, the games are quite mediocre, more of a poor man’s Halo than anything else. I was able to play a map in which the Chimera attacked me and some comrades in a junkyard. I quickly ran out of ammo and without knowing how to melee attack or pick up enemy weapons, I was dead in the water. I tried on my next go around to figure out the controls, but to no avail. I ended up putting down the controller shortly after picking it up. My poor impression of this game may have to do with not knowing the controls, but I could not guess the controls because they were not intuitive, and that is a problem.

Star Wars: The Old Republic - to be released in 2011
I'm not really an MMO player. I prefer to play games, finish them, and move on, which is something that an MMO does not quite allow. I am, however, a fan of both Star Wars and Bioware, so when I heard Star Wars: The Old Republic would be playable at the con floor, I leapt on the opportunity to wait an hour to play it. Before you ask, of course I played Jedi, what else would I have played? I started off as a young Padawan asked to help save the Jedi training grounds from Flesh Raiders. Already sounds intriguing, no? The combat system, buffs, and abilities are incredibly similar to World of Warcraft, but what MMO isn't these days. I prefered the cinimatic style of this game to WoW, though, because it focused on the facial reactions of characters and allowed me to select answers to questions to gain either good kharma or bad. Imagine WoW mixed with Knights of the Old Republic, and you'll have Star Wars: The Old Republic. I may not be an MMO fan, but I'll definitely give this one a whirl.

Rayman Origins - to be released November 15, 2011
I almost passed this game by since I've never played a Rayman game; I know of the character and the games, I've just never played. I was happy I stopped by, because Rayman origins is probably one of the best platformers this year. Drop in/drop out co-op play, simple controls, and a clean art style make this an appealing game for both parties and solo play.

Overall, this con was a complete success, but this isn't all. Stay tuned for videos and giveaways as we wrap up our coverage of Comic Con.
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