Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tokyo Game Show - Day 3

[News] [Computer Gaming] [TGS]

The net-cafe auto-correct has returned, and brought some friends, and now they're all hovering around my typing style like a posse of Mexican bandits about to descend upon a small defenceless village.

I'll soldier through, though, to tell you some of the things I've seen on the third and final day of TGS.

Final Fantasy XIII - Fabulus Nova Crystallis - The three versions of FFXIII are collectively known under the thing-thingy-crystallis name printed above. At this stage Squeenix are only showing trailers for these titles - no gameplay to see - but those trailers certainly are some saucy little pieces of video. There's a new FFXIII standard trailer, featuring the chick with the gunblade. It's like the old trailer, but longer, with some new bits. In short, though, it's still just informing us that the game will look good and feature an attractive woman going nuts with a big sword.

Final Fantasy Agito XIII is the game for Japanese mobiles, and based on the visual styling of the trailer I will henceforth refer to it as Final Fantasy XIII And The Philosopher's Stone. It appears to feature students at some sort of school for magic getting up to some card-battling shenanigans. Also, there's a crystal. Hilarity ensues. We'll likely never see it in the West, so feel free to immediately forget it exists.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII looks like it's a side-story to the main FFXIII. Like the main game, it's a PS3 release. The trailer doesn't give the slightest hint as to gameplay. It shows a guy in a dark robe, with the air of someone who might just be a hero, walking down a staircase towards a bunch of soldiers who are shooting at him. The fellow deflects the bullets using a bunch of levitating swords. All the swords are different - one's a gunblade, one's a long fancy thing. For all I know there's a buster sword and a keyblade in the mix - they're only onscreen for about a second. The title's still making me think it's going to be a two player fighter, and I still remember Square's last attempt at that (Ehrgeiz - *shudder*) so I'm at this stage not hugely excited. Keep watching for news, though.

It's A Wonderful World - Another Square-Enix title, this time for the DS, and to my disappointment it's NOT a sequel to It's A Wonderful Life in which Jimmy Stewart must protect the world from its impending destruction by a giant meteor over the course of one magical Christmas. Rather, it's a hip urban fantasy featuring socialising, accessorising, skateboarding, romance, and the beating down of giant monsters with swords. A lot of the hype material features the words "Timelimit: Within Seven Days" and there seems to be an onscreen clock so I suspect it's going to be a bit of a departure from Square's usual epic levelling-up sagas.

Resistance: Fall of Man - This has been shaping up to be the launch title to watch for the PS3, so I took the opportunity today to subject its multiplayer component to the tender mercies of my gaming thumbs. Despite being placed on the same team as three small Japanese children, facing off against a bunch of grinning hardcore gaijin, we STILL won the round. There's nothing very original in the multiplayer, but so far as it recycles a lot of the same-old same-old, it recycles it well, with easy controls, satsifyingly punchy weapons, and a really very handy detailed on-screen map. The game we played was a Battlefield-style thing where you were supposed to control the checkpoints. A nice touch is that the "checkpoints" are collections of coloured cylinders. To change the allegiance of a checkpoint to your faction, you have to shoot out all the cylinders, which means you can technically do it from a distance, very slowly, with a precision weapon, or just run up point blank and take it out in one hit with an area-effect gun. Lots of fun, and definitely worth buying once you already have a PS3, but not something to invest in the console for by itself.

Heavenly Sword - If there is a game to buy the PS3 for, it's Heavenly Sword. This is one of those games that will make you drool from the corners of your mouth when you behold it, and then gibber like an orangutan when you attempt to describe it to others. Basically, it's God of War, with a female protagonist, and better. It's not just LIKE God of War - it IS God of War. It may as well have David Jaffe's name on it. But it's better. Watching people play it for half an hour, and then playing it myself, I rarely saw the same moves repeated. It flows wonderfully, and it's a dream to control. You have three stances - your basic stance with two swords, a ranged stance with hooked chains, and a power stance where you bring your sword blades together to make a giant butcher sword. You move in to the ranged and power stances by holding down the R1 and L1 buttons while attacking. Then your attacks are varied by context, whether you've just been attacked, what's around you, and the range to your opponent. You also have a kind of awesomeness meter that charges up and your moves change again depending on how awesome you currently are. On top of all that, you can interact with almost everything in the combat zone using the X button. Big items like tables will be kicked over to create barricades, while small items will be scooped up to be temporary weapons that you can bludgeon your opponents with or throw at distant foes. Scoring a bullseye on a thrown weapon (such as throwing an opponent's disc-like helm as a frisbee) causes the camera to go into a missile-cam mode as your shot flies towards its unfortunate target. Finally, you also have some special scripted sequences against certain enemies (particularly bosses) that work like the ones in God of War, where on-screen prompts will suggest you press certain buttons, and completing a sequence of buttons will finish off your opponent in spectacular style. It's a good game. It's a very, very good game.

Lair - A bit of a mixed bag here with this PS3 title. Basically, you're flying a dragon which has been pressed into service to fight on behalf of a medieval-esque army. You zoom around, get in dogfights with other dragons, strafe surface-bound armies, and actually land yourself to mix it up face to face with the infantry, cutting loose with flame and claws. The flying works by way of using the tilt functionality of the PS3 controller. You lean the controller left to bank left, tilt it up to climb, et cetera. This all works exceptionally well, and it's a pleasure to use. After you get the hang of enjoying flying, though, it's all downhill. Dogfighting with dragons is a squirrelly process involving jerking the controller around like you're having an epileptic fit. On the ground, despite the fact that the engine can render a totally out-of-this-world number of on-screen soldiers (numbering in the thousands), killing them is absolutely no fun at all, and not in the least satisfying. I suspect this is going to be one worth leaving on the shelf.

I'm going to have to sign off because my internet is running out but I still have impressions of Warhawk, Eye of Judgment, the PS3 controller, and the ongoing DS vs PSP sales war to convey. Keep hitting refresh, DustBunnies, it should all come through tomorrow!

No comments: