Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E3 2011 - Day 1

Today was an exciting time for me today, I finally got to go to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in LA today. It was a real treat, and a great thing to experience. I must say that I was really happy with the whole event, and look forward to more.

My day first began, with me walking into the West Hall, where I got to see Microsoft, Konami, Tecmo Koei, Square-Enix, Sega, and other booths.

In the beginning, I went to EA's booth, to gander at Battlefield 3, but the long hour wait for a single game turned me off. So I decided to walk around, where I encountered Anarchy Reigns, a game by Platinum Games(Previously Clover Studios, before they left Capcom). This game was one on my radar, mostly because Platinum Games is a game company I really love. They always try something new, their games are really fresh and creative, and mostly I've been left with nothing but happiness and joy with their games.

The game is an online action/hack and slash game. It seems to me, this game is mostly about going online and pummeling your foes. The idea to me really sounds scary, because I just don't know how you can make it work. After playing with the game, I felt a little less worried about the game being fun, and if polished up it should be solid, but I am not sure if this game will really hold my attention for online play long.

The game is setup around four players, beating each other to the death, scoring points in the process, until the timer runs out. Our demo session let us choose from about 5 characters, and I chose the lovely Ice Queen lady, who's name I forgot. Every fighter has two attacks, weak and strong, then a grab, and the ability to jump, dodge, and perform a special attack. (I couldn't figure this out in my demo.)

When fighting characters, you can lock on to an opponent, and mix up your attacks of light and strong (square and Triangle respectively) attacks, until you end off with a finishing blow. Continue to pummel with weak attacks, and you're foe will block, so mix in some strong attacks, to keep them stunned. After the strong attack finishes, you'll usually blow your opponent to the ground, where they'll have a chance to recover with an ukemi or attack right back at you from the ground.

In natural fighting game lore, an attack can be guarded against, but are weak to throws, and throws are generally not quick enough to be beaten by a quick weak attack. When grabbed (circle button), you can break free of the grab, but if you do grab your opponent, you're able to connect with some comb attacks in the end, and most of these throws are also pretty powerful. Throws seemed to be based off the position of where you grabbed your opponent; side, front, or back throws will vary, and are equally strong it seems.There are also items like rocket launchers and guns to pick up, so you can attack from a distance and hurt your opponent, or find health items to heal you up.

The game ended, and I got second place. I was 1 point behind my opponent, but overall I must say, this game was fun. I think it would be fun, but I can't say I feel confident about this game yet. The combat seems too button mashy, not enough depth yet, and I worry the game won't have many different modes or gameplay styles to keep it fresh for long.

Next stop, was the Tecmo- Koei booth. I played Ninja Gaiden 3 there, which was a really fun game, despite being really rough. The demo was kind of long enough, but the action really felt incomplete. It's more of Ninja Gaiden action you know and love, but the game feels more brutal and bloodier.

Ryu Hayabusa is back, and he now has a glowing infected demon arm, which he can use to assimilate multiple opponents at once. His sword still can cut guys up in half, but the action feels a little slower now, and the sword play feels heavier, bodies have more weight to them, and cutting through someone isn't always as clean as it was in past games. It sometimes requires you to press the attack button again (initiated by a button prompt) to kill off the opponent. When you slice up an opponent, the sword may get stuck, so you have to press a button again, and Ryu will pierce the body harder, the bones will shatter and crackle, and you see your foe is cut in half, and know very well it had to hurt... a lot.

After playing NG 3, I moved on to the Square Enix booth. Here I played Deus Ex and Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Deus Ex: Human Revolutions was a fun game. I won't bother with the story, cause frankly I really was not paying attention. You have multiple options on how to dispatch your foes, and before the demo, I was given the choice to go in quitely, or guns blazing. I chose Stealth, then I chose up-close stealth, as opposed to sniping from afar, and had a stun gun and elbow blades.

Moving around the environment, I was able to hide behind cover, wait for my opponent to be alone or open to an attack, then swiftly move in and knock them out or kill them. Killing them would make them scream in pain and generally wasn't quite, which would alert guards nearby. So going for a stun kill was more important. The game feels good, the controls are responsive, and overall I enjoyed my time with it. I think if it can keep multiple play styles balanced, it will be a great game for anyone.

Next up, I played FF XIII - 2. This game was really not mind blowing as I was hoping. I believe that's because the game really is just more of the same. FF XIII has come and gone, and I've played it to death. I knew what to expect, and yet at the same time I was hoping for more surprises.

There wasn't a lot new in this game, perhaps they will show some more stuff later on, but what was new aside from characters, locals, and the bizarre soundtrack (more on that in a minute), was a few tweaks to the battle system.

In the game, you're able to activate pre-emptive strikes much more easily. Enemy encounters are now random in a sense, because they'll just spawn from almost nowhere essentially. I'm not sure if the demo explained it, but these enemies just spawn out, like they're from another dimension, and then in this moment of spawn time, you're able to run up to an enemy and smack them (by pressing A) to initiate battle. When enemies are spawning, there will be a meter, that goes from green, yellow, then red. When the meter is in green, the enemy will not know you're around, thus enabling you to activate a pre-emptive strike. Activating this, means your enemy is near a full staggered gauge, thus you'll be able to stagger them completely really easily, and finish them off quicker. Yellow will mean the battle starts normally, and Red means you're going to be ambushed instead.

The battles themselves play out pretty much the same. A timer bar, known as the Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge, will fill up. It's divided into segments, which can allow you to initiate attacks, once that segment is filled, or you can wait for the whole bar to complete and allow your stacked attacks to flow through in order. For the most part, everything works the same now, except Noel, the hero you control, can control enemies. In battle, I had two allies, he was controlling. They were always beside me, however the ally I had in my team would change depending on my paradigm deck.

The animals in my control was a Flanbango (Fire Flan) and Behemoth. The Behemoth was in my Three COM deck, relentless assault, and he was also a sentinel for another deck. My Flan was a RAV for two other decks, and only came in to help build the meter, where my behemoth would help smash opponents with my Relentless assault attack.

My feral partners, would then build a "synchronize" meter, where I could have them unleash a powerful combo attack, with damage being dealt through some Quick Time button presses. These attacks worked best when the opponent was staggered, allowing me to really deal out a ton of damage. The demo itself was short, and frankly I must admit the voice acting leaves something to be desired. Noel's voice really leaves a lot to be desired, and Sarah really needs to stop whining over everything. Also, I must say Mog, the moogle, really is kind of  out of place I feel. His or Her voice is... off putting. Having a moogle talk seems weird, even though they do talk. I just feel having someone say "kupo" over the "kupo" cry Square has given it's moogles, is just wrong and feels creepy.

Next I moved on to the Nintendo booth. Here I played the new Wii U system, along with a few 3DS titles.

The line for the Wii U, was a really long wait. An hour and half to be exact actually.

On the Wii U, they had a bunch of tech demos out. Really I could write paragraphs about each on I played, so I'll be posting that later on my technical marvel, and when I have more time to play with it. Hopefully I'll have the chance to play it tomorrow.

The controller itself is interesting. I found it very comfortable to hold, the controller was ergonimic even, and I really didn't feel like it was a burden to hold. It was light weight for it's size, even with the added padlock on the system, that prevents anyone running more than 4 feet away from the station. The system has a BEAUTIFUL 6.2 touch screen, I believe it's OLED, I'm not sure, but it's bright, crisp, and looks amazing. The system has a D-pad, A,B,Y,X, buttons, ZL, and ZR buttons on the top shoulder, and L and R buttons on the bottom "triggers" with two nub sticks (similar to the 3DS's slider) on the top right and top left.

My thumbs fit perfectly onto the system's slider, and to be honest these sliders were not terrible at all. The worry I had, was they wouldn't feel as responsive as a analog stick, but in fact they feel just as good. The motion controls in the game felt responsive and fluid, more fluid than the Wii Remote, and about the same as a WiiMote Plus.

I think the controller is really neat, but it really leaves me wondering... What can I do with this, I can't with a iPad? It's a table essentially, and if it relies on the system to only be able to play games, it will be really weird being tethered (wirelessly) to a system within a short range. If it can access Wi-Fi and allow me to play games from coffee shops or other wi-fi locals from my system at home, THAT would be interesting. I like the concept, and the tech demos show some interesting and fun gameplay mechanics that can be had, but I can't say i feel sold on it yet either. I need to see actual games.

Overall E3 was a fun time. I look forward to more E3 madness tomorrow. Can't wait to see what's in store for me.