E3 Quick Impressions: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

 I didn't play the first Kane & Lynch game, but I'm peripherally aware of it (at least to the extent it was rumored to cause a notorious disagreement that eventually caused Giant Bomb to be a website).  I'm considerably more interested in its sequel, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, and checked out the demo at this year's E3.  My demo was a single-player (with bots) version of the Fragile Alliance multiplayer mode, in which a group of guys seek to rob a bunch of money and then get away with it.  The premise given (I'm not sure if this is variable or not) was that we were actually watching another group of crooks commit a robbery, with the intention of assaulting them and stealing their bounty.

Once you and your crew have successfully gotten the money, you can choose to work together to take out the police and make your getaway, or you can turn traitor, kill your buddies, and take their share for yourself.  Since I was playing with bots anyway, it wasn't a very hard decision.  As soon as I was in a situation where there were none of my "friends" behind me, I opened fire.  They all instantly turned into red dots on my minimap, and alternated between firing back at me and continuing their escape.  I took a few down, looted their bodies, and found my own getaway car (I think there are a few).  From there, I once again took the low road and chose to betray my driver and keep his portion for myself.  In the end, you're ranked in your match by how much money you ended up with, as well as the usual kills/deaths/etc.

The gameplay itself felt solid, if unremarkable.  This is a cover-based third-person shooter, and plays as such.  What I really liked about the demo was the visual style.  It has an interesting sort of washed out color palette, and I do like the shakiness and artifacting that happens when the action gets heavy, as if your viewpoint was that of an unnamed cameraman with an imperfect digital recorded.  I wish something of the single-player campaign had also been available, but assuming it's at least competently executed, this feels like a world I'd like to spend some more time in.

If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer. 


E3 Quick Impressions: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is basically God of War but in a gothic horror setting.  I'm tempted to end the blog post right there, because that's pretty much all you need to know to decide whether or not you'll want to play it.  It's pretty blatant.  You even get health from objects that glow the same shade of green.  Though to be honest, the demo was short enough that I don't know what they'll do to vary the gameplay, if anything, as there were no puzzles or boss battles in the segment I played.  It could end up being a great deal shallower than God of War.  

It started out with taking on groups of werewolves, which serve as the cannon fodder of the game, and escalated to fighting larger wolflife monsters that take more hits and need to be dodged and avoided.  I found blocking and dodging a little tricky, because blocking happens when you hold the left trigger and stand still and dodging happens when you hold the left trigger and push a direction on the analog stick.  I often wanted to block but because I had just been moving I would dodge instead.  There's another segment where you're riding a horse at full speed, and have to fight off other enemies also on horseback, but I kept getting knocked off and having to fight them on foot.  There are these circles that pop-up, and you're supposed to push a button when the larger circle shrinks to be the same size as the smaller one, and I couldn't get the timing quite right on it with the few attempts I had.

I can't say it left a significant impression on me gameplay-wise, but I really enjoyed the aesthetic, and would be all over playing a gothic horror God of War if they polish it up and add some variety.

If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer. 


E3 Quick Impressions: NBA Jam

 Would you be interested in playing NBA Jam again but with updated rosters?  You're in luck, because EA Sports is releasing that very thing for the Wii.  You can shove each other, throw out elbows, do crazy dunks, and if you get three in a row the ball catches on fire.  I couldn't hear it that well on the E3 floor, but someone was definitely shouting out crazy stuff when we hit dunks.  Also, at one point the glass did shatter when the mascot did a pretty intense dunk.  It feels great, it looks good, and it was very satisfying to play as Kobe and Gasol against the Thunder (who, by default, include their mascot in the two-person team).  I got a kick out of the different frozen facial expressions the players would adopt.

The controls felt good, playing with the Wii remote and nunchuck.  At first I thought it would be annoying to have to flick the Wii remote up in order to begin a shot and then down to execute it (you also flick it up to block when on defense) but after a few plays it felt fine and I was executing dunks, lay-ups, and three-pointers without a second thought.  From the demo, I don't know if there will be any other modes or anything to justify whatever they're charging for it, considering it's basically a SNES game, but if you're an old school NBA Jam fan like I am then you shouldn't miss it.

If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer. 


E3 Quick Impressions: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

One game I was really looking forward to seeing at this year's E3 is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.  I loved the last game from Ninja Theory, Heavenly Sword, and found the concept of this new game to be very intriguing, which is loosely based on a several hundred-year-old Chinese novel.  Gameplay-wise, it's very similar to the Prince of Persia series, where you control a main character (Monkey) who balances his time between melee combat with evil robots and loose-limbed high-wire platforming, and have to escort/get assistance from a computer-controlled woman (Trip).

The demo I played felt a little bit janky here and there, but it's got a very strong foundation, and I feel like it could easily be a top-shelf action-adventure by the time it's released.  Besides some basic combat, the demo featured a segment where Monkey has to climb several poles, shelves, and a tree in order to chase and catch a mechanical firefly, which Trip then converts into a sensor to help them navigate a minefield.  It's implied that these fireflies actually evolved to be partially mechanical, which is sort of interesting, but the story overall wasn't discussed in the demo very much. 

Monkey can also carry Trip (necessary to make sure he doesn't accidentally step on a mine in the aforementioned field) and throw her (like onto a balcony so she can lower a ladder for Monkey).  Another segment required Monkey and Trip to cross a rope bridge with no cover while some robots fire upon you.  Monkey can give Trip orders, and here you learn she can project a distracting image from a doohickey she carries that will allow Monkey to cross the bridge.  On the other side, Monkey can shout out "Over here!" to cause a distraction of his own, then order Trip to cross.  Overall I enjoyed it, and am hopeful it will have the same level of polish when it's finally released as Heavenly Sword did.

If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer.

E3 Quick Impressions: Dance Central

One of my goals for E3 this year, though to be honest it's a goal I've had for years, was to perform a synchronized dance with a small group of people to Bel Biv Devoe's classic song Poison.  GOAL FULFILLED.  Going into Dance Central, I knew I had to give it my all, as the previous group had been led by an adorable middle-aged Japanese man in a suit who gave it his all, and therefore sincerity in my performance was a must.  
OK, listen, I was not the lead dancer.  I can't be sure from my experience alone that Kinect actually works.  But I did have a great time, and I'm pretty sure it was working as advertised.  It also seems like a game that is much more fun in a group.  So on the right side of the screen is a row of boxes, each one with a dance move (like "The Fresh Prince") so you know what to perform, and also what's coming up next.  There is also a tiny box with your silhouette that will highlight the part of your body that is causing you to get less than a perfect score.  For example, if you're doing great except for your right arm, then your body will be white and your right arm will be red.  That's basically the game, as far as I can tell.  It's exhausting, but I would happily do it again tomorrow if I could.  MTV Games had a crew of professional dancers who have to play the game all day long, and who must be in incredible shape. 
All I have to say now is...
.... yadda yadda yadda...
 If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer.


E3 Quick Impressions: Twisted Metal

You know it's a lot of pressure to play Twisted Metal with David Jaffe standing around watching everybody.  
We played a six-player death match, and it was very much a Twisted Metal game, except with beautiful graphics.  I played as the helicopter, which the demonstrator said immediately after I selected it was the hardest vehicle to operate.  The left and right analog sticks are used in conjunction with one another to steer and to gain or lose height, but for most of the match I didn't feel like the height was totally under my control.  You can cycle through different special weapons, as well as a machine gun, and most of the weapons are homing missles or some variation.  There is also a way to zoom in and fire a giant machine gun (like you're on a rail shooter level in an FPS) but it wasn't nearly as effective as the homing missles.  The helicopter's special move is dropping a magnet and using it to pick up a car (like Desert Strike!) but I never seemed to be able to injure anyone with it.  I lifted them up as high as I could and dropped them, but it didn't kill them.
Anyway.  It's Twisted Metal, and it's pretty fun.  I'm pretty terrible at multiplayer games, but I managed to get three kills, and my team won by three, so I felt OK about myself.  
 If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer.


E3 Quick Impressions: Nintendo 3DS

It took a while, but I finally got to spend some time with the 3DS and a handful of tech demos.
Here's the first thing you should know about the 3DS: It works.  It is totally 3D without glasses.  I don't know how it works, but it does.  There is a 3D slider to adjust how much 3D you want it to be, and you can even change it to 2D.  The analog stick feels really good, and the whole thing feels like a quality product.  The graphics in general are very strong, and clearly superior to the DS.  I played five demos, some of which don't really have names:
A jumping demo:  This was to demonstrate why 3D might be useful.  The top screen and bottom screen both had the same game, where a guy on a pogo stick needs to navigate some platforms.  If you only look at the bottom screen, it's almost impossible to succeed because you can't really tell where the platforms are in relation to each other.  In 3D, however, it's a cinch.
Hollywood 61:  This was a sort of adventure game, with two puzzles.  In the first puzzle, you tap on a series of mirrors to move a light from one side of the screen to the other.  In the other puzzle, you have to figure out what message is written on a stage curtain that a man was found hanging dead in front of.  It just looks like a lot of smudges until you physically turn the DS to see that from the left angle, the curtain says "YOU'RE" and from the right angle it says "NEXT."  It all worked very well.
Face Ace:  I knew I wanted to try this after listing to the Bombcast.  It works just as they said, and is as creepy.  It takes a picture of your face, wraps it around a ball, and then several balls of your face attack you while making horrifying expressions, and you need to shoot them.  You have to rotate almost 360 degrees, while the screen shows a video of your actual surroundings in real-time.  If you miss, sometimes a big lipstick kiss is left on the screen, which is also quite disturbing.  
Pilotwings Resort:  I think this might eventually be a real game?  There were two levels, one in which you fly with a jetpack to pop balloons, and one in which you fly a small plane through some rings.  Nothing out of this world, but the 3D works very well to present depth, and it all takes place in the infinitely-charming Wii Sports Resort Island.  Also, it demonstrates the analog stick nicely.
Xevious:  Somehow the last game I played before I was hustled out was a 3D port of the old arcade game Xevious.  Playing in 3D makes this game very hard, but it does look cool.  It plays exactly like Xevious.  I'm not sure what else to say.  The ground looks farther away than it usually does.
To sum up:  I want a 3DS.  I want to buy one.  I would pay money dollars for it.  
If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer.


E3 Quick Impressions: Disney Epic Mickey

I don't know about you guys, but before I actually played it, I was pretty sure Disney Epic Mickey was an old-fashioned 3D platformer, but with some interesting art and story choices.  Apparently it's a bit more than that.  Did you know, for example, there are hub worlds?  And side-quests?  The hub world I saw was based off of Adventureland, the themed area of Disneyland, complete with a Treehouse and an Enchanted Tiki Room.  There you can talk to different characters who will give you quests, or you can proceed with just the main quest to move on.  For the demo, we only saw one very short side-quest, but it completely blew me away.  
So this game has a lot more depth than you would expect.  The side-quest was that Goofy (under the name Tiki Sam) wants Mickey to find three tiki masks hidden in the hub world.  The demonstrator of course knew where a mask was, and we went straight there and retrieved it.  Now as you may have heard, Mickey can either shoot paint thinner with the Z trigger (to destroy cartoons) or paint with the B trigger (to restore cartoons).  After giving Tiki Sam the first mask, instead of looking for the others, you can go around the back of his hut, melt the wall with paint thinner, steal the mask, and then keep giving him the same mask over and over until he's satisfied.  If you accidentally give it to him four times, he catches on to your scheme and turns against you.   I don't know about you, but I don't think I would ever even have thought of attempting something like that, and now I can't wait to get my hands on the full game and see what other madness lies within.
The demonstrator also revealed that the Steamboat Willie level from the trailer is a bonus level, and that there are something like 40 2D levels just like that based on different classic Mickey Mouse cartoons.  I have a feeling there is a lot to do in this game besides the normal platform levels, and I really want to see more.  My only wish is that it were available on an HD system so we could get all the beauty it wants to offer.
 If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer. 


E3 Quick Impressions: Super Scribblenauts

I wonder if maybe I'm too dumb or unimaginative to play Scribblenauts games.  In Super Scribblenauts, you can now add adjectives to every noun in the world, and they actually react appropriately.  The demo was in Playground mode, so it entirely depended on me to think of things, and I didn't do a good job.
Purple Vampire.  Yes, it was purple.
Cowardly Vampire Hunter.  He was eaten by the Vampire and became a Vampire also.  Then I took the stake he dropped and killed them both.
Angry Fridge.  Man that Fridge is really aggressive and volatile.
Hungry Caveman.  I accidentally put him in the Fridge and his status changed to Cold.  Then he beat up the Fridge.
Happy Dragon.  I flew him around and set fire to the Caveman. 
Explosive Hot Air Balloon.  It exploded.
Lazy Griffin.  It moves incredibly slowly, but still attacked me and had to be destroyed by my Dragon.  Also you can pet the Dragon.
At this point, the presenter was trying to suggest fun things I could write, but I decided to move along and give someone else a turn.  Listen: It works.  Also, you can move your guy with the D-Pad now, and that is 1,000 times better than with the stylus.  This is probably a great game if you are smarter than me.
 If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer.


E3 Quick Impressions: PlayStation Move

I played five games on the new Sony PlayStation Move.  And while I really wanted to be blown away, I left with the feeling that I'd be perfectly happy never playing any of those five games again.  
Sports Champions: I played some ping pong here.  It feels pretty good, and is very responsive, but doesn't feel more responsive than ping pong in Wii Sports Resort, which I find more charming by a landslide.  I don't see why this needs to exist. 

Kung Fu Rider: Oh man, this is a weird one. It reminds me of Incredible Crisis or something. I played as an (Asian?) businessman riding an office chair down the street.  I have to steer to pick up money bubbles and avoid obstacles.  If men in suits accost me, I push the Move button to do a spin kick and knock them away.  It was sort of cute in a weird way, but it just didn't work very well.  I found it almost impossible to jump, no matter how hard I flicked the Move controller up.   

Start the Party:  This had the coolest trick of any Move game, but was sadly no fun at all to actually play.  In this game, you see yourself on the screen the whole time and the Move controller becomes some kind of cartoon object.  It looks really awesome, especially if you've ever dreamed of joining the cast of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.  But the minigames I played with my cartoon objects were really dull.  In the first I used a tennis racket to swat flies (but not red flies!), and the in the second I used a flashlight with a gun to shoot ghosts (but not red ghosts!).  Feh. 

The Shoot:  This is an on-rails shooting game, in which I was shooting cowboy pop-up targets.  When I say "pop-up targets," I mean they are actually cardboard cutouts of cowboys that explode when you hit them.  It's OK I guess, but got dull before the demo was over.  Also, it's hard to duck or dodge when things are being thrown at you.  I started to feel by this point that the Move controller really wasn't that precise.

The Fight:  I really wanted this to be the big hit, as I'd been wishing for something like this, that uses two Move controllers, one in each hand, ever since I played boxing in Wii Sports and lamented the poor nunchukk.  However, it's too slow, and somehow it's kind of dull.  It doesn't seem possible, but it's not as visceral or as exciting as Wii Sports.  It felt like a simulation of a bar fight between two guys so drunk they can barely stand up. Oh, and this game was in 3D.  I almost forgot because it was so inconsequential to the experience, except the game was fuzzy sometimes. 
 If you have any questions, comment and I will try to answer.

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