WARNING: THERE WILL BE NO MENTION OF ALIENS.
There’s been a lot of talk of demos lately since it was suggested at DICE that demos hurt more than they help in terms of sales, to which we all responded smugly and said “Ha, only the rubbish games”. Well no, not exactly. The problem isn’t about us “finding out” that a game is bad, the problem is that the demo itself can often be a poor representation of the game. Being dropped into a random slice of the game with no context is jarring, there’s no build-up to what’s going on, it’s over by the time you get used to the mechanics, the bigger the game is the more story is left out for fear of spoilers, and it usually cuts off before you have a chance to really get into it and really see what the game is all about.
I hated the demo for Dragon’s Dogma
, I thought it was clunky and slow. But after word of mouth spread I gave the game a chance and really enjoyed it. The demo for Ni No Kuni
has completely soured me on buying the game, I keep hearing good things, but that segment they chose to represent their game was a bad decision. A game that’s a slow burn like Limbo
may only come across as boring to many with just the small chunk they gave us.
But that’s not why we’re here, okay maybe it is a little, I do kind of want to prove my point, but mostly I’m here to have fun and maybe even save you a little money. The following are the exact opposite of what I’ve talked about above, these are bad games with good demos, or at least games that probably aren’t worth your money, not when they offer the best they have to offer for free anyway.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
You may remember Kane and Lynch
as the game that got Jeff Gerstmann fired, though some still speculate that it was just so bad it made him quit. But this game has worse offences under its belt, like a sweet talking demo that cons good people out of their hard earned money. You see, Kane and Lynch’s demo takes place exactly at the high point of the game, it’s still not particularly great, but it is the high point of this
game. Disguised as window cleaners you’ll abseil down the side of a Tokyo skyrise and attack a bunch a Japanese businessmen for...some reason. Followed by an intense shootout through the luxurious (for a 2007 game) interior, and eventually spilling out into the streets while surrounded by panicking civilians desperately trying to escape the building.
The problem is that immediately after the demo ends is where the game introduces it’s “twist” and decides it wants to be a military shooter. Thus becoming a poorly conceived spiritual sequel to Freedom Fighters
but with nigh invincible helicopter boss fights and more angry balding men.
Also at one point you fight a dump truck. Seriously, don’t buy this game.
If you were to combine elements of racing games, arcade shooters, and a Tony Hawk
style point scoring system you would have a beautiful game. If you hit that game with a van you would have The Club
. The greatest complement The Club
ever received is that it would have been a great game “on the PS2”. Really its only true fault is that I came out in the wrong generation, a few years earlier and it may have been a classic. The problem is that it was the last true “pass the controller” multiplayer game and it came out at a time when everybody was enamoured with online multiplayer.
As it stands, the demo will give you all you could want from that bygone era. DAMN THIS PLASTIC FUTURE!
Just Cause 2.
You have half an hour. Here’s a big slice of the map. Go nuts.
That is the premise behind the Just Cause 2
demo and it really is great. You’ll skydive, parachute, play around with the grapple hook, surf on a plane, and shoot red things till they explode. Thing is, that’s all there is to do in the main game, shoot the red things till they explode. That’s not to say Just Cause 2
is a bad
game, but you will squeeze more fun into that half hour than you’ll get out of twenty hours with the real thing. You’ll experiment with the grapple hook before you figure out that it’s not as versatile as you thought, you’ll tie people to various moving objects before you notice that cords disappear after ten seconds and you can only tie one thing at a time, you’ll shoot all of the red things till they explode before you realise that it’s literally the only thing you do in the game.
With Just Cause 2
ignorance isn’t just bliss, it’s free!
Resident Evil 5.
Again, another game that isn’t exactly bad, but it does slightly betray your expectations. The demo is about scrambling for survival in a shantytown gone mad, and it really is a tense experience, even with the lady who heals you and helps shoot the monsters. But the demo is set before Resident Evil
decided to jump the shark like a zombie on a dirtbike, soon you’ll be facing zombies with machine guns, blonde Neo, assaulting a rock, minigunning the aforementioned Motocross zombies, and shooting building sized tentacle monsters with space lasers.
Still, in retrospect it’s not so bad compared to 6.
Okay, I didn’t play Time Shift, you didn’t play Time Shift, most of you probably don’t even remember what Time Shift is. But I think it’s safe to say that the novelty of slowing down time in the rain was about the apex of the experience.
The Sonic Unleashed
demo is set in that beautiful segment of the Sonic Cycle before we hear about the gimmick that ‘s going to ruin the game, like a happy family portrait taken before anyone knew Uncle Nick was a sex offender. You can see the beginnings of SEGA finally figuring out what to do with Sonic in a 3D world. Of course they had to screw it somehow and decided to make 70% of the game a poorly executed God of War
clone starring a cross between a furry and Stretch Armstrong. But man, when you’re running around (at the speed of sound) you can almost trick yourself into believing they actually got it right for a while there, sort of, kinda.
What you think you’re getting
Remember the original gritty SSX trailer
? Well, make no mistake, that is the game you are getting when you buy SXX
, they carried out as much damage control as they could, and lacquered the game in a slightly brighter tone, but it’s clear the foundation was already laid. The demo takes place in a bright and colourful stage (one of about three in the whole game) and provides plenty of opportunities for all sorts of tricks and excitement set to some of that young people’s music I keep hearing about. The full game is a different story...
Most of the game takes place on severe and harsh courses, it’s very clear the game was built on their original mantra of “survive the mountain”, you’ll fall off so many ledges and into so many bottomless pits that they had to add a Prince of Persia time rewinding mechanic. Then there’s the Deadly Descents, where the game throws arbitrary obstacles in your way, trees, rocks, white out, pitch darkness, blacking out the screen from lack of oxygen, the game does everything it can to get in the way of you having fun.
What you're actually getting
Should you enjoy the soundtrack, well that’s too bad, because if you want to accomplish anything in the game you need to keep your Tricky Bar built up, and when your Tricky bar is built up the only song you’ll hear is a dubstep remix of “Tricky” as a spectral Rev. Run chases you down the mountain screeching “yyyyyyyeeeeeeeEEEAAAAAHHHHHHhhhh”, it is terrifying and I’m pretty sure if you could turn the camera around you’d see his face chasing you in an avalanche like The Mummy.
Add on top a story full of pretentious vignettes filled with empty statements like ”I do this because I can. I don’t feel alive unless I push myself to the limit”. And a plot about a team of nine people jetting around the globe just to spite one guy, who by the way, accomplishes everything the team does, first, singlehandedly. Meanwhile Team SSX constantly talk behind his back and split the work between nine people, after a while it starts to feel like you’re playing the world’s first extreme sports bullying simulator.
It’s just...so...just play the demo.