This Thursday marked the beginning of the four day extravaganza that was G*STAR 2010, The Korean equivalent of e3. It did not disappoint! The BEXCO Convention centre was engulfed by an almost uniform mass of Korean nerds. DSLRs, and Bubble jackets seemed to be required dress code. My fiance, our friend and I were let in despite our lack of the aforementioned gear. It was great fun!
At the door an old friend greeted me.
It was a magical moment.
We waited in line for just under a half hour to play Mega Man Online [Rockman for the Asians] and I have to say that I've come away with some mixed feelings.
The graphics looks very vivid and crisp from a decent step back but while playing I couldn't help but notice that the animation was a bit stiff and environments were a little flat and empty. The signature high energy Mega Man music was also a disappointment. Sort of in the way that being stood up is a disappointment. That's right, it never showed up. Ambient, environmental soundscapes and generic effects were all I heard. Let's hope that the music is still being composed!
So as you may have gathered the game seemed to be missing a certain sense of Mega Man, and it got worse before it got better, but that isn't to say that there isn't hope.
The demo was presented on laptops without controllers and playing Mega Man with a keyboard felt a little worse than awkward but it was doable and the control scheme probably seemed comfortable for their target audience - MMO addicted Koreans. That said, the controls felt sluggish. X moved about a bit slowly, and his buster, instead of being able to shoot three shots in rapid succession [PEW PEW PEW] was limited to a single shot. These issues put me off quite a bit until I was told about the upgrades system. Armour upgrades will make a difference in this game affecting your speed, shot, defence, etc but the coolest addition to this system has to be what I'm going to call 'specialty parts'. Pressing Tab will cycle through an inventory of helpful tools and I was able to increase X's speed by equipping a thruster part. I was also able to summon a little companion who would fly ahead and take out enemies for me. Only one add-on could be used at a time. These specialty parts seem to be enough to tame my fears about the sluggish experience.
Combat has also been given an upgrade. In addition to the standard shoot, dash, charge moves a total of four 'skills' can be assigned to the QWER keys. I was able to perform a devastating multi charge shot, a tornado kick and a fire punch in the demo which really helped, considering the slow fire speed.
One lingering problem I have though is reserved for a technical limitation of the controls, one that neither the skills or specialty items can alleviate. It seems that you are limited to two actions at once. so I can walk and jump, or walk and shoot, or dash and jump, etc. BUT I CANNOT dash while charging and jumping. This caused some discomfort. That is how I play Mega Man X! I am ALWAYS charging and so it was really jarring to me once I figured out what was happening. It was especially troublesome when wall jumping, while shooting at enemies and trying to get to a platform that required I air dash. It's a limitation that wasn't even present on the SNES and really takes away a certain fluidity from the controls.
I played through a rather straightforward and simple jungle level that unfortunately didn't include anything noteworthy. The final boss which seemed to be based off of MMX's Sting Chameleon didn't really do anything. It was huge, went back and forth and stuck out his tongue at me but it was easily destroyed without any real need for strategy- oh and it ended with a QTE.
There was no 'Online' to speak of in the demo and I have a hard time seeing how it would enhance the experience. I wasn't shown any sort of hub, trading center, lobby or anything. It was pretty much Mega Man X7...
The game, as it is, has a lot of potential, I think the Specialty Parts mechanic is really smart in a Mega Man game, and the skills were helpful but I'm not sure if this is enough to help gamers get past the poor controls and bland level design. I really wanted this to blow me away as a Mega Man MMO is something I think could be brilliant. This isn't it sadly.