X’08 report continued...
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
In my mind, comic books make for a more congruent choice for video game content than blockbuster movies. Unfortunately most video games based on comic book characters have tended to flop, much like video games based on films. But there are video game developers that are still willing to try and make a decent effort at a comic book inspired video game that will delight gamers and comic book aficionados alike.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows seems to have successfully nailed down the whole aesthetic which is Spider-Man. I’ve played other Spider-Man video games in the past and none of them have adhered as well to the original comic book character as this game has. From the way the game looks, to the character animations, and how the game plays, my impressions were that this is the game Spider-Man fans have been waiting for.
Some of the game’s features include combat that flows from ground level to the sides of buildings to aerial moves. There is the ability to instantly switch from red, blue, and the black Symbiote suit, each giving Spider-Man different abilities. There are also variable choices of upgraded powers, who to fight with or against, and what the final outcome of all your choices throughout the game will result in. I only hope the final game carries my initial impressions to full fruition. It looked awesome.
LEGO Batman, as I was told by the game rep, has been in production since before LEGO Indiana Jones and was still in production after Indian Jones release. LEGO Batman has had more time and effort put into it than any other LEGO video game title, and from what I saw of the game at X’08 it definitely shows. Graphically the game was the most impressive I’ve seen of all the LEGO titles. Characters looked really crisp and the environments and art direction were very creative and detailed. I especially enjoyed the kind of old school comic book feel of the game, it’s environments and various puzzles.
The game has a total of 30 levels, 15 for Batman & Robin and 15 for the villains. The villains are unlocked as you play through the game initially as the heroes. Each duo of characters good or evil have their own unique abilities which are far more elaborate than simply females can jump higher. The action flows from land to water to air with both hero and villain controlled vehicles. I saw some really interesting locales in the game such as a fairground, the Gotham sewers and an ice cream factory. A good point to mention here is that the camera angles for LEGO Batman’s gameplay seemed much improved over previous LEGO titles, which I’m sure is going to be a relief to many.
I was really impressed with LEGO Batman, and even if you weren’t a fan of previous LEGO video games I would recommend giving this game a try upon release. Apparently there will be drop-in/drop-out online co-op as well. All the more reason to give this game a go.
This game for all intensive purposes can be considered Square Enix’s debut on current-gen consoles. Though from what I saw I wouldn’t say the game is exactly pushing the limits of the Xbox 360 hardware, none the less the artistry and colorfulness of the game should give most action/RPG fans their eye-candy fix. As the game rep explained to me the game is live action based as oppose to the more turn based, menu driven combat found in the Final Fantasy series. The game rep then showed me a level where the main character and a party of three others battled with some rather portly purple beast. What ensued was a lot of button mashing and combo hits. He then pointed out the large dragon in the rear of the room the characters were in. Apparently battles in Infinite Undiscovery have an additional environmental element to them where one must either avoid or use a certain environmental condition to succeed each battle. So a dragon in the background blowing fireballs at you is one example, a beach with large crashing tidal waves coming in at regular intervals is another. An interesting concept but I’d have to play around with it a bit more to decide whether it’s a valid gameplay dynamic or just something slapped on top to keep the game’s combat from being a boring button mash.
As the game rep explained you play the game as Capella, the main character, but you have the ability to micro-manage up to 17 other allies at the same time, though you can only have three members in your own personal group at a time. I’m not sure how well that will translate in-game, I’m hoping I wont be bogged down trying to keep tabs on so many characters so they don't end up dropping off like flies on a bug-lantern. With Final Fantasy XII being one of my all time favorite games I feel confident Square Enix can deliver a top notch game for the Xbox 360. Time will tell.
Having gotten a taste of a Japanese RPG I headed over to see a demo of the American made Fable II. While Infinite Undiscovery was rather cute and colorful Fable II on the other hand was much darker and seemed to have a more mature tone. Well, maybe that was my impression because the area of the game I played through briefly just happened to be en route to a cemetery full of ghastly undead creatures. Visually from what I saw the game looked quite impressive, a significant step up from the original Fable video game which was a pretty decent looking game to begin with. The controls felt similar to the original Fable and overall the game felt it had a good amount of polish on it. Playing through the game I did notice the addition of the much spoke about dog companion, which didn’t seem to do much for me in combat but it did sniff out hidden treasures. You have the option at any time to pat the dog on the head or scold it, though I can’t imagine why you would scold the dog, maybe if it peed on the woman you were attempting to woo...Bad dog! Baaad dog!
I noticed in traveling that the path needed to be taken was highlighted as a misty red trail. This was, as the game rep explained, to replace the HUD mini-map, essentially freeing up more screen space to appreciate the game’s visuals. Worked for me. My time with the game was brief but the game left me with the impression that it will deliver everything it’s been promised to in spades. Chock up another title to the must have list.
Silent Hill Homecoming
The Silent Hill Series makes it’s current-gen debut with the sixth installment of the series entitled “Homecoming.” Though a game expo isn’t exactly the best place to show off the atmosphere of a horror game I did manage to get a good feel for the game and the feeling was...Oooooh creepy! First thing I noticed is how more detail a Silent Hill game looks on the Xbox 360. As I took the controls and explored what seemed to be an abandoned mental hospital everything looked that much more real and subsequently the fear/horror factor that much greater. Unfortunately with my limited time with the game I didn’t manage to come across any monsters of any sorts. I can only assume that they appear even more twisted and horrific in this game than in Silent Hill games of the past on less capable consoles.
The game controls worked well in moving the character about and the camera angles seemed much more complimentary than in previous Silent Hill games. As I am a big fan of the horror genre I most definitely plan on picking up this title which will hopefully give me my horror fix before I settle into Dead Space and Left 4 Dead.
In part 3 I will round up my coverage with a look at such titles as Viva Pinata 2 and the off-road racer Pure.