Most of the titles coming to consoles during holiday season 2012 seem like known quantities but, very much like at Sony’s Spring and Summer showcase, there are still some games that surprised us – usually in a good way. Vagary.TV writers Kyle Baron, Royel Edwards, and Paul Stachniak dragged along web developer Michael Frangione through the jungle of suits and hors d’oeuvres to get a better idea of what Sony Computer Entertainment will be staking its bets on this holiday season. Read on.
Assassin’s Creed 3
Somewhat interestingly, UbiSoft’s hands-on demo of Assassin’s Creed III shied away from the series’ trademark run-and-stab gameplay, and instead focused on the title’s nautical warfare gameplay.
Along with a new time period, the American Revolution, the series also introduces a new protagonist, Naval Captain turned Assassin Connor Kenway. The demo I played was the same sequence screened during this year’s Sony’s E3 conference, so I had a fairly good idea of what I was in for. And yet, despite some rather miserable attempts at vehicle-based combat in past Assassin’s Creed sequels, I’m happy to report that what I played didn’t suck. Not one bit.
Controlling your vessel is fairly straight forward: The X button opens or closes your sails (they miraculously always catch ample wind, no matter the direction), the Square button slows your speed, and the shoulder buttons control your various forms of fire.
When in range of an opponent, an aiming indicator appears displaying not only your range of fire, but also you’re enemies. Pulling up against an enemy ship and unloading a barrage of canon fire feels weirdly satisfying. Particularly when a large part of your opponent’s ship explodes into flames. Maneuvering is about as cumbersome as you’d expect from a massive wooden ship. Thankfully, however, the sequence doesn’t out-stay its welcome.
Graphically the title looks on par with previous Creed entries – the game utilizes a new graphics engine, although I was hard-pressed to see any real differences. As for the rest of the story and gameplay… I couldn’t say. I suspect stealth-based combat remains as fluid as ever. And I’m told we can expect closure to the Desmond storyline. We’ll know for sure when the game drops on October 30th.
Devil May Cry
The time is quickly approaching where Dante will make his major comeback, slaying more demons from hell than ever. The Devil May Cry build I played at the holiday event seemed fairly similar to the E3 build, but I wasn’t too sure. I did manage to glitch the game for a bit when I decided I was going to jump and glide through the level continuously. Either way, I think the game looks great and I’m looking forward to seeing where this reboot is going to take the series. I still find it weird to see Dante without white hair, though.
Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified
I know I’m not the only one worried for the Playstation Vita’s first Call of Duty game after developer Nihilistic’s released the love it or hate it Resistance: Burning Skies. After playing a local four player deathmatch against Nihilistic CEO Robert Huebner and fellow members of the press, I’m finding myself feeling very optimistic about what could be the most important determinant for how many Playstation Vitas are sold this fall.
The twitchy immediacy of movement, a signature of Call of Duty games, has been smartly adapted to the Vita’s hardware. Killstreaks, knife attacks, and grenades are all mapped to the touch screen in a way that feels unobtrusive and responsive, much like the similiar approach that Unit 13 took to mapping multiple functions across a limited set of buttons. Running, now triggered automatically after walking for a split second, took a little while to get used to. Huebner said that there’ll be a few control schemes to choose from in the final version of the game, including one that allows sprinting to be triggered with a quick press on the directional pad.
The guns available in the preset classes followed a familiar gamut of weaponry from past games, like the M4A1, the trusty MP5K, and the crossbow. I also noticed a “Near class,” function on the menu, which Huebner said would allow players to share timed versions of their unlocked classes with anyone who used the Playstation Vita’s Near functionality at the same wi-fi spots.
Huebner was hesitant to spill details on the single player campaign, but said that it was influenced by the brevity and quick action of both Unit 13’s single player and previous Call of Duty games’ spec ops modes.
Here’s to hoping that Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified delivers when it releases this November.
I suspect if I was 10, Skylanders Giants would be the greatest thing, ever. It’s a game that comes packaged with a physical action figure, that when placed on a dock-peripheral (dubbed ‘The Portal’), teleports said action figure into my game. Swap out one character for another, and the game reacts accordingly.
As an adult, I find myself more fascinated with the tech behind this title; a sequel to last year’s reboot of the Spyro franchise. Firstly, each Skylander figure stores your in-game statistics. Meaning, you can go to a friends house, drop into a game and continue using your leveled-up character. Where’s this feature for Borderlands 2?
If that wasn’t enough, Activision is also looking to increase the franchise’s footprint with a web-based experience (now in beta) and plans for future syncing between console and mobile characters.
Finally, there’s a set of figures that, thanks to the magic of wireless induction, will light-up when placed on the portal peripheral. My iPhone 5 won’t even charge through wireless induction. Why the hell are action figures doing this before iPhones?
It’s all very cool. As for the game, it’s a mix of action-adventure beat-’em-up and platforming; a modern-day mash-up of Monster Hunter and Pokemon, if you will.
The brilliance here, at least from a marketing stand-point, is that game fuels toys sales, which in turn fuels the game’s popularity. As a parent, I’d be frightened for my wallet. As a kid, I’d really want the light-up figures.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
Sony’s own version of Super Smash Bros is a pretty fun title. However, I don’t think a game of this calibre will attract all those who play games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or even Smash Bros Brawl. That being said, it has its own charm with a colorful cast extending across the far corners of the Sony universe with Radec from Killzone, Fat Princess from uh… Fat Princess and Kratos, the God of War.
The game is really fun to play. You beat up on the other characters using three different attack buttons in order to build your gauge, which can be used for a power super attack. For example, when you power up Sweet Tooth’s gauge to its third and final level, he goes into a Gundam-esque suit and pretty much destroys everyone else on the screen unless you find a way to stay away from him. I did not, so I died.
The Playstation Vita version of Playstation All-Stars
That was me using Sweet Tooth, Royel. Sorry about that. Also, that suit is supposed to be his ice cream truck. Yes, I do feel like a jerk.
In fact, everything about how the characters moved and fought in All-Stars made sense; of course Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth is using his chainsaw and shotgun to give himself some breathing room; of course Bioshock’s Big Daddy is using plasmids and his drill to bully around opponents. Given the proper time and setting to fiddle around with the game’s simple controls and large depth of combat possibilities, it becomes a lot easier to see how All-Stars is set to differentiate itself.
The Playstation Vita version of the game was developed in partnership between Superbot Entertainment, the studio behind All-Stars proper, and Bluepoint Games, the studio behind the well-crafted collections of Ico & Shadow of the Colossus, as well as the God of War collections. This pedigree shows. Having familiarized myself with All-Stars since E3 2012 in June, I was surprised at how well the game looks and plays on the Playstation Vita. If it wasn’t for the Playstation 3 version of the game, it’d be easy to mistake Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale as a game that was developed natively for the Vita. Throughout several matches of play on the Vita, I never experienced a drop in frame rate or any technical problems. I can’t wait to see how well the cross-play function will work when it lets Vita owners play against other All-Stars players on the Playstation 3.
Lego: The Lord of The Rings
I’ll admit that I was on the border of giving out a reluctant grumble when Vagary web developer Mike Frangione insisted that I play the latest Lego game with him. I was smiling stupidly and delightfully laughing at the game seconds after picking up the controller. All of the charm of previous Lego games is back, even with the characters having their jibberish language replaced with voice acting.
The fresh feel of Lego has less to do with voiced characters and more to do with some subtle choices in design. The puzzles in Lego games were previously relegated to character abilities and finding sometimes obscure block pieces to construct a solution. In the half an hour I spent playing Lego: The Lord of The Rings, I was happy to see that the block related puzzles got a little more inventive; one puzzle had Mike holding off Orc hordes in the massive battle of Helm’s Deep while I fought off ladder-climbing Orcs on the towers so I could buy enough time to send a rope down to him. Soon afterwards, we were on top of horses and plummeting through the Lego blocky streets of the keep, swatting off Orcs with our plastic swords.
The last time I felt like playing a Lego game was back when the first Star Wars Lego game was released in 2007 but, if the delightful whimsy of a more smartly designed nostalgic Lego romp makes good on its impressions, I might have to find time for it when the game is released October 30th.