Well, "Demo-palooza" is probably over-selling it a little, but when I went home this last weekend, I ended up playing through several demos for games, so I thought I'd write up something on them, because I know one, in particular, is something that most people did not play (well, I think so at least, I might be horribly wrong).
But let me start at the beginning.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Now, this demo has been out for a while, and I played the PS3 demo when that was first put up, mainly because you can't get demos until a week later on Xbox Live if you aren't paying for Gold. But I decided to replay it on 360 now that I could download it in order to get the bonus stuff for Mass Effect 3 (as I've been rocking the Mass Effect on 360 ever since aught seven (ought? Never actually spelled that out in that usage.) when the first one came out).
I know some people are very excited for this game, and it's difficult (or almost impossible) to judge a full game based on a demo, but after playing that one twice, the only thought going through my head was, "I never want to play this game again."
Not that any of it was especially bad (aside from some technical issues that apparently are only in the demo, and not the final game), it's just that nothing in the game seemed appealing to me. The story didn't seem interesting, the world seemed like it's mostly the same old generic fantasy stuff we've all seen time and time again, the voice acting wasn't good enough to be good, or bad enough to be good in a bad way, and the art style of the game was equally unappealing (in that it's kinda stylized, but not really).
However, the real downer for me was the combat. One of the biggest selling points of this game is that it supposedly combines the big openness of something like an Elder Scrolls game (which, from what I've read, sounds like an inaccurate estimation of the game's scope) with the fun combat of something like God of War. But what I played felt more like the openness of Fable combined with the combat of Fable. So basically Fable. Now, I like the Fable games quite a bit, but not the combat so much. But unlike the Fable games, Reckoning doesn't have the British charm as "wit" that the Fable games do, which also ends up being the thing I like most about those games (especially III).
Again, it's difficult to judge these things based on a demo. Maybe later in the game the combat gets way deeper, or maybe there are other weapons that are more fun to use (but my experience with the long swords, hammers, and daggers of the demo yielded similar, unsatisfying results), and maybe the story stuff gets way better. But as it stands, my interest in the game is pretty much gone.
Oh, and I don't like how the "gnomes" in the game don't have hats. Gnomes need hats!
The Darkness II
The first Darkness was a game that I always intended on playing at some point, if only because the demo featured not only a Pop-Eye cartoon, but half an hour of a Flash Gordon "episode," so of course the full game had to be filled with stupid stuff like that (apparently all of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is in there). But, I never did. So, of course I went and downloaded the demo for The Darkness II, which is apparently out tomorrow (something I did not realize until today).
And I liked it. It has a new, cel-shaded-ish look that I think fits the over the top and almost cartoon-ish gore and ridiculousness of the titular Darkness, and there was a snappiness and responsiveness to the controls that I don't remember from the demo for the first Darkness. Not really much else to say, other than that the demo left me wanting more, which is the sign of a good demo (though not necessarily a good game, mind you). Will I buy The Darkness II? Not this week, at least. Maybe someday. It seems like it'll be a good linear FPS with some other stuff thrown on top to differentiate it from other FPSs (and possibly some decent story stuff, I dunno). Plus, it features the ability to cut dudes in half by throwing car doors at them. That's always fun.
Now, so far as I know, there is not a demo for this game in a territory that predominantly speaks English. So, I downloaded the Japanese demo on PSN. And I played it in Japanese. Unfortunately, all of the dialog is spoken in Japanese, which I know is easy to suspect, but there are plenty of games with English voice acting across territories (Deadly Premonition and the Resident Evil games come to mind), so you can't blame me for hoping.
Anyway, as a result of the apparent standardization of video game controls, I was able to figure everything out pretty quickly, even though it was all in Japanese. Well, none of the squad command stuff made any sense, but I'll disregard that. Or maybe I shouldn't. That game seems to have a lot of emphasis on dudes talking to each. There was a lot of dialog during that demo. I didn't understand any of it, but they sure were talking a lot. So maybe that'll be a good thing in the final game. No way of knowing for sure.
But what I do know for sure is that the actual game part of it is pretty good. Controls are responsive, the game runs nice, even if it does appear a little bland on the surface. But to make up for that, the enemies (robots) fall apart nicely. There was one moment where I shot the right arm off of a robot, and then it caught its gun in midair with the left arm and kept shooting at me. That seemed like a cool little touch that most games wouldn't have.
And there are a couple bosses in the demo. These were both good and bad. The designs of the bosses were nice, But it was hard to figure out what exactly I had to do to defeat them. Of course, this is mainly because the demo was entirely in Japanese. But the second boss would hit my character, knocking him to the ground, and draining his health to zero. At that point I either had to use a med-kit or wait for a squad-mate to revive him. But the real problem with that boss was that as soon as he stood up, the boss would run over and hit him down again. I think I eventually ended up dying, and then I stopped playing it.
But, regardless of a possibly poorly design boss fight, I am intrigued by that game. At least enough to want to see what it is like in English. I could see the large amount of dialog being a good thing if it's done right (or done comically wrong), and as always, being able to read text is helpful.
By the time I finished playing that demo, I noticed that the Starhawk beta had finished downloading it. So, after the installation process (which, like many things on PlayStation the Third, was lengthy), I played a couple matches. It seemed fun, and like it has some good ideas, like being able to call in walls and vehicle spawn machines. But that was all I played, and I didn't feel like taking the time to download the Twisted Metal demo or the Syndicate demo (both of which I kinda wanted to), because I had an insatiable urge to play Saints Row the Third.
And thus, aside from going to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (a good movie, by the way), I spent the rest of the weekend playing a new game of Saints Row the Third. Why? Partly because I love that game, and partly because I'm trying to get the Trophy for completing all the challenges, but I couldn't on my first game because I did not complete the challenge for taunting 50 gang members, and I had driven all of the gangs out of Steelport, and thus could not taunt any of them (and taunting cops does not count). It's the last Trophy standing between me and the Platinum Trophy. Not the last one I need to S-Rank it, because I have not bought any of the DLC, but I have this strange urge to S-Rank the game, which requires buying the DLC.
But I'm not sure that I want to do that, because I don't actually own this game. I'm still using the copy that I borrowed from a friend of mine. I suppose at some point he will want it back, and I'll have to return it. But that will be a sad day indeed. I guess I'll have to buy my own copy. You know, at this point, I kinda wish I did, because not only do I think this game is well worth the price of submission, but also because I feel bad for not supporting THQ in its time of need. Oh well. I'll buy a copy when I have the money to do so.
A picture of where I think some of THQ's employees may have to live if things keep going poorly.
So, that's about it. With me still being at college, I probably won't be playing any new games until spring break, which happens to coincide with the release of Mass Effect 3 very nicely. If I happen to go home between now and then (and I probably will at least once), you can bet I'll be mostly playing Saints Row the Third. I don't know if I'll ever S-Rank it, but I will at least get the Platinum. And that's something. Right?