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1:35 PM on 04.10.2009

What You Might Have Missed – A Closer Look At The New Bayonetta Trailer

Based on the relatively positive feedback from my last Bayonetta article and with the release of the new trailer, I thought it might be useful to take a closer look at the trailer and point out some of the interesting details that people might have missed. Originally, I wanted to do a voice over but my microphone is not very good, so I will spare you from having to listen to my grating voice and just use screen captures instead.

Right off the bat, we are given some details about the story which involves two clans that used to work together for “the powers to be” and apparently something goes down which causes “balance to be toppled” and Bayonetta lost her memories. Granted the trailer is a bit cryptic about certain details, but as it stands the story doesn’t strike me as terribly interesting. Given that Bayonetta lost her memories, you can probably bet on most of the story being told through flashbacks. However, I don’t know a lot of people (myself included) who really play fast-paced action games for the story.

There seems to be a lot of focus in the trailer on this dragon creature and we even get to see a bit of the combat involving it later on. I would imagine that this is merely an intermediate boss, since it would be odd for Platinum to disclose the final boss this far in advance. Be that as it may, this is a pretty large boss and as you can see towards the end of the trailer, the boss fight appears to be rather epic. At least, the battles aren't the typical "fight a huge boss in a big open arena" and they actually used an almost side-scrolling sort of level for the dragon boss.

So much going on in this image. First off, there is a new enemy which appears to be a slightly beefed up angel that looks like it will use its claws instead of melee weapons. If you watch the trailer, you will also notice bits and chunks of the enemies falling off as you strike them which is a nice little detail. We also get to see another torture attack later on which involves crushing the angel between two large hands.

More importantly, we finally get to see the HUD and targeting system. You’ll notice that the health bar is in the top left corner along with a set of glowing orbs. After watching the trailer a few times, I have yet to ascertain exactly what the orbs are for. Although, you can fill the orbs by attacking enemies, I didn’t see any footage where the orbs decreased, so it is unclear whether they have anything to do with the torture attacks or animal transformations.

You can also see the enemies health bar in the bottom right corner, which I actually kind of like. I found the health bar/targeting crosshair combination used in DMC4 to be a bit annoying, since I could only see the health of one enemy at a time. This method at least lets your see multiple health bars although they only appear after you strike the enemy. Speaking of the targeting crosshair, you can see it crosshair on the blue angel and I am not quite sure I like it. While it is rather clear on the blue angel, I question whether it will be as easily visible against the red angels or other larger enemies (more on this in a bit).

Lastly, you can see your combo points in the top right. The only thing I want to say about it is that I hope you have the option to either turn it off or at least make it a bit transparent. I don’t mind combo point indicators, but I find that some can be distracting. Granted this one isn’t that bad, I just tend to find them to be something that are more useful to people who go for high rankings and I would prefer to be able to turn it off.

Here we get to see a new weapon, a whip. The first thing that I thought of was the Devil Bringer from DMC4 and I am actually kind of glad they added this weapon in. I liked how I didn’t have to chase enemies around in DMC4 and how being able to draw enemies closer helped keep the action relatively constant.

You can also see that the angels are now an orange color, mostly likely caused from the lava on this level, but whether this is a new variant or not is unclear though. Granted the image I have is a bit blurry, but even if you watch the trailer you will notice that the targeting crosshair is a bit hard to see against the orange colored enemies, but I am hoping that this is just a result of the video quality.

We also see a brief clip of Bayonetta transforming into what appears to be a cougar while fighting one of the bosses. A few interesting things to note here. First, the transformation to and from the cougar form is rather seamless and quick. Furthermore, the cougar form has its own attacks which can then be chained together with regular attacks, again rather seamlessly. This might be in part to the icon in the bottom left of the screen which appears as you approach the enemy in your transformed state. Perhaps, a simple button press is all that is needed to chain attacks as you transform. Also, note how well the camera handles as you move around the large boss. My only concern is that the camera dips a little low and the grass blocks your view momentarily, but it does adjust well as you move behind the boss.

A couple of really interesting things happening in this image. First, if you watch the trailer you will see a second character dressed in red jump up from the bottom of the screen and start attacking. Co-op confirmed? Doubtful, especially since it is hard to tell who the character in red is trying to attack. And the clip right after makes her appear antagonistic, so it might just be a boss fight.

The worrisome thing going on is the timer in the middle of the screen. I will never understand why developers insist on adding timed sections to action games. In fact, you will notice the “Torture Attack” counter on the left, which means you probably need to execute 3 torture attacks before the time runs out and I am sure this will not be an easy task and much more difficult than simply killing the enemies.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped spark the interest of a few people. The biggest concern I had as I watched the trailer was that the style of the combat looked remarkable similar to DMC. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing and Bayonetta certainly has elements which differentiate it from DMC. However, I worry that people while be dismissive of it because it might look or feel sort of derivative. Otherwise, I am still rather pleased with the trailer and the game looks like it will have a lot of really fantastic gameplay elements, a deep combat system, and lots of fast-paced action.   read

1:38 PM on 03.24.2009

Gears of War 2 FNF (Belated) Recap - 3/20/09

Even though this is a bit late, I just wanted to do a brief recap of last Friday’s Gears of War 2 event. For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, check out Grim’s original post here.

When the event started, several Dtoiders (vlambo and power glove) and myself split off from the main lobby and hosted another room which filled up quickly. I only ended up playing two matches with that group, but the friend requests and random messages continued and I decided to branch off and host another room. This lobby also filled quickly and I spent the remainder of the event in that lobby.

The first couple of matches were a little rocky and certain individuals were being disruptive (to put it mildly), but once the riffraff left the room the rest of the night was rather enjoyable. My group played through a variety of game types throughout the night and most of matches were pretty exciting. We played a few Execution games on Avalanche and Gridlock which ended with close scores. After a few Execution matches, we decided to try Annex on Jacinto and then King of the Hill on River, both of which were really tight matches. We also learned that I am the worst Wingman partner on the planet. Some other highlights include an epic match of Submission on Canals that went back and forth for nearly 25 minutes and could have gone either way. Overall, it was a really memorable night and it was a lot of fun. I am sure some of the other hosts have great stories as well.

In closing, I just want to thank everyone who joined us for the event and I want to also apologize to those who couldn’t get into the event. The number of friend request I received prior to the event was staggering (in fact, I am still getting random friend requests), so I am sorry if you didn’t get a chance to play. Also, I want to give a special thanks to all of the Dtoiders that were in my lobby. And lastly, I want to thanks Grim for letting me be involved and help out.

One last note, with the new Title Update being released today, hopefully people will have a renewed interest in Gears 2. I have been playing Gears 2 over the passed few days with some of the people from the event, but I am always looking for people to play with. So if you are interesting in playing a few rounds, send me a friend request and just let me know you are from Destructoid.   read

11:18 AM on 03.14.2009

What You Might Have Missed - Dissecting The New Bayonetta Screenshots

There are several games I have been keeping a close eye on, and one of them just happens to be Bayonetta. As Jim posted earlier, several new screenshots have been released and I decided to sit down and assess some of the nuanced (and not so nuanced) details and giving some general thoughts and concerns about the game.

The first thing I noticed about the above image was that there were different classes of angels, which is something I didn't pick up on by watching the trailer. Also, seeing the angels in still shots, I realized that the enemies seem almost avian as opposed to angelic, which is sort of odd. Looking to the background you’ll notice the trees are sort of a drab brownish color as opposed to bright green, which is a little disappointing to see, although pretty consistent with other current generation games. Also, check out the blinding lighting effects (more on this later).

This image has me very concerned. You’ll notice the very tight walkways and stairwells, as well as the small alcoves along the top walkway. While I appreciate the attempt to have different types of environments, these sorts of close quarter environments can wreak havoc on the camera in action games. I can’t count the number of times the camera in Ninja Gaiden 2 would bounce around because I walked too close to a wall or was in a really tight corridor with a lot of enemies. I could easily see fixed cameras being used in tighter spots and if not I hope Platinum develops a really robust camera system. Also more blinding lighting effects.

This screenshot actually has a lot of really interesting details. For starter, you can clearly see that each of Bayonetta’s guns has a different colored gem on the side. My first thought was that each gun might correspond with one of the buttons on the controller. For example, the right (green) pistol might be fired by pressing A (also,green). I think it would be really interesting if you had control of each gun separately as opposed to just pulling the trigger and having the game decide. Although this of course begs the question, how would you do other things like jump? Anyways, you’ll also notice that the guns are being used at close range which might suggest that they are pretty powerful and aren’t just weapons for chipping away damage, although this could just be coincidence. The bullet casings, which seem to be moving to Bayonetta left (i.e. into the screen), look like they are longer than her hands, so that seems to be a good indicator that these things pack some serious firepower. The last little detail I picked up was that the angels are now using a mace-type weapon as opposed to the axe weapon they had above.

A couple of the pictures that Jim posted show off special attacks like the giant fist and the pulley attack above. I am really hoping that these are finishing attacks because I could imagine some of them getting kind of old if you would do them over and over. Note that the trees are also a big greener in this area which is nice to see. And some more lens flare.

Here we see a picture of a boss (or at least what I presume is a boss), along with a couple of subtle details. First, both of Bayonetta’s shoe guns are glowing which could perhaps indicate that a special attack is available, or perhaps there is a way to charge up your shots like in DMC4. Moreover, the guns now appear to be black and longer (the earlier pictures had her with red pistols).

Also, note the second smaller head on top of the cherub’s head. While it seems just be purely ornamental, I could imagine this is one of those bosses where you are forced to shoot its weak point, in this case the smaller head and then attack it while it’s stunned (which are the kind of boss battles that I hate). Obviously the boss is pretty big, so this could very well be one of those bosses with the “unavoidable, takes up the whole screen” attacks which would be really disappointing. I was impressed that the designer actually provided an area that at least appears to be fairly open, so you might have some room to move around. And before you think I forgot, I did notice that Bayonetta is now wielding a sword and a pretty long one at that. The two-handed stance is pretty unusual for an action game, so it will be interesting to see if she has a variety of two-handed attacks or if it is just her general stance (see below).

First, you can see the black guns a bit better here. In fact, if you look at the right leg, it appears to have two barrels so perhaps it’s like a shotgun of sorts. This might explain why Bayonetta's legs are design to be disproportionately long. We also see the sword in action and it is being used one-handed now, so perhaps the two-handed stance is just for show. The angel’s wings seem to be falling apart and his flesh doesn’t have that porcelain-like shell, so perhaps the enemies change forms as you deal more damage (also check out this picture and compare it with the boss above and note the green arm bands). I do feel kind of bad for this particular angel, since he somehow manage to ended up with a trumpet for a weapon. Maybe he can call reinforcements?

I got nothing for this one, it just looks ridiculously awesome.

A few closing points, you’ll notice that none of the screenshot show the HUD or any sort of targeting system, which anyone who plays action games can tell you are both really important components of an action game. Be that as it may, I still have a lot of hope for Bayonetta and I hope some of these detail have peaked your interest too. Hopefully, we will get some decent gameplay videos in the near future.   read

5:44 PM on 02.04.2009

Thoughts on Projectile Weapons in Hack and Slash Games

So I have spent some time considering what, if anything, I could offer the community in terms of commentary or discussion here on the C-blogs. While I initially thought about discussing general gaming issues like the overuse of QTE or focusing on current events in the gaming world, I realized that most of these topics are usually hashed and then rehashed on the site and on the various podcasts. As such, I decided that it would perhaps be better to discuss more subtle and often ignored gameplay mechanics in videogames that I (and hopefully you) will find interesting. If the responses to this article are positive, I will attempt to do more articles just like it on a regular basis. That being said, feedback is greatly welcomed.

As the title suggests, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the use of projectile weapons in the hack and slash genre. Projectile weapons are certainly not something new in terms of the genre so it might seem, at least on its face, to be a bit of a nonissue. However, I recently completed Ninja Gaiden 2 (NG2) and after considering and contrasting it with Devil May Cry 4 (DMC4), I noticed parallels between both games particular with respect to the use of projectile weapons.

Projectile weapons, within the context of the hack and slash genre, tend to be weak and serve a rather limited purpose. At best, they are useful for stunning enemies or whittling away an enemy’s health as you move in to attack with your melee weapon. Again, this should be fairly obvious to anyone who has ever played these types of game. In fact, it really is necessary to limit the power of these types of weapons in order to preserve the hack and slash style of gameplay.

If, for example, Dante’s guns in DMC were powerful enough to quickly take out enemies before they got close enough to attack, it would become pointless to actually engage an enemy with your sword. Essentially, having powerful projectile weapons would cause a hack and slash game to devolve into a shooter. Be that as it may, one could argue that adding some sort of projectile weapon allows developers to include a wider variety of enemies, specifically enemies that also have ranged attacks or enemies that can fly. In many ways, this current embodiment and use of projectile weapons provides some benefit to the genre.

The problem, in my opinion, is that adding projectile weapons opens up opportunities for poor game design choices, that are ultimately not worth the benefit of including projectile weapons in the first place. Given the limited nature of projectiles, players are conditioned the whole game to rely on their sword and hone those skills necessary to fight with a sword (dodging, blocking, counterattacks, etc). In most cases, projectile use becomes an afterthought in combat situations.

Some of the worst parts of NG2 were the section which involved ranged enemies. For example, rocket and incendiary shuriken ninjas were a constant annoyance and could spam attacks from a distance. Some enemies, such as the dragons pictured above, could only be killed via a bow, which tends to slow the pace of the game. In DMC 4, an enemy known as a Blitz could only be damaged after shooting it repeatedly, which again caused the fast pace of the game to be broken.

I will grant that the above examples could perhaps be seen as minor issues by some. However a more troublesome issue, in my opinion, is how developers will force players to utilize projectiles. By way of example, both the Savior and the Archfiend (bosses from DMC 4 and NG2, respectively) could only be beaten by exclusively using projectile weapons (granted some sword use was required for the Savior). Given a player’s ancillary use of projectiles throughout the game, this can make battles awkward and boring, at best. It undercuts that fast pace nature that defines the genre and forces the player disregard all of the prior skills that they have develop over the course of the game.

In many ways, I would much rather see projectiles dropped all together and have developers spend more time focusing on sword play and creating enemies that don’t heavily rely on ranged attacks, but still prove some challenge. I am sure some would disagree, and to those that do, I think there are some games on the horizon that might actually offer examples of how projectile use can be more effectively used in an action game.

Although not a hack and slash game, Bayonetta may offer an example of how gun and projectiles can be incorporated into an action game and still be fast and entertaining. If the game can properly balance the power of the guns and still keep pressure on the player and force them to adapt and use different styles of play, it may serves as an example of how hack and slash games could effectively utilize projectile weapons.

Thanks for reading. As I said earlier, feedback would be appreciated.   read

11:11 AM on 01.13.2009

A Resolution and an Introduction

After reading Necros’s post about getting involved more with the community, I decided that I would at least make an effort this year to post on the Cblogs. In the past, I have been reluctant to post anything, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I could post regularly due to my busy schedule. Be that as it may, I think I should give it a try and obviously the best way to start is to introduce myself.

I have been playing video game for as long as I can remember. In terms of older systems, I own a NES, Genesis, and a Gameboy, although for a long time I was predominately a PC gamer. It was only with the release of the newest generation of console systems that I started to focus more on console gaming. Presently, I own an Xbox 360, a Wii, and a DS, with the Xbox being the most used system, although I still tend to do a fair amount of PC gaming.

I enjoy all different types of genres from first person shooters to platforming games to RPGs. Some of my favorite games include (in no particular order): Golden Sun, Prince of Persia: SoT, Diablo, Counter Strike, and of course Kid Icarus. I also posted some of the games I am playing now, or plan to, on the sidebar just so you can get a sense of what kinds of games I am currently into.

I have been reading Destructoid since late 2006, when GamePolitics linked an interview that Niero did with Jack Thompson. I always liked how involved the editors are with the community and how they try to interact with the readers like with FNF and the forums. Like I said earlier I have a pretty busy schedule, but hopefully I can find the time to post once and a while. I am planning on writing an article for this month’s Monthly Musings, so if all goes well I should have that posted soon.

One last thing I should mention is that I apologize for my horrendous looking banner, which is the result of my complete lack of artistic ability and a failed attempt to use GIMP. I will try to work on something a little nicer in the near future.   read

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