Hey everybody! As you recall, NYCC was last week, and a lot happened: some big reveals in the Marvel universe, trailers to upcoming shows, guest appearances, reveals and enough to throw the comic book world asunder. But who cares about all that! It’s the games that I was coming for, and boy, did NYCC deliver. I was able to get my hands on some new games and tech and share my thoughts on them. So without further ado, let’s dig in.
Dark Souls 2:
Sigh. Dark Souls. I have such a love/hate relationship with this game. My personal vendetta aside, a lot of you enjoy the madness this game employs and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t cover it as best as I could. For starters, the line here was immense, but I fought my way through the crowd to get a look at what Namco Bandai is offering to those brave enough to venture into the world of DS 2. At first it looked like not a lot has changed for this third outing, so I did not see what all the commotion was about. Namco-Bandai instead focused on changing the rules of the game itself as opposed to adding new things to the formula. By that, I mean it is now harder than ever. Sigh.When you die, just as in Demon Souls (the first in the series), you lose a portion of your health, 25%, and become an undead. However, if you die as an undead you lose a further 25% health and all the souls you have collected up till that point. To make it even more ‘fun’, you can now be invaded while you are in undead form, as in people can randomly join your game and kill you after you die. To stave off that frustration you can now also summon help while in undead form, with summons lasting longer or shorter than before depending on the player’s White Soapstone (which depletes per the amount of enemies a summoned player defeats in the host world).Aside from the under the hood changes and some combat refinement, the game is the same moody, dark and atmospherically bleak game that players over the world have come to love and enjoy. I will be able to give a more in-depth review of the game when it launches March 11 of next year, but until then I enjoy not dying so fervently.
Assassin’s Creed Black Flag:
Assassin’s Creed Black Flag is the upcoming 8th entry into the open world quasi-sci-fi adventure series by Ubisoft Montreal. For those of you unfamiliar with the Assassin’s Creed multiverse, each game takes place in the real world, where each character you play is a memory of an ancestor brought about by a machine called an animus. Sounds confusing, but basically it involves your character hooking up to a computer and retracing history as his ancestors saw it in order to help turn the tides of current events. This time around, you play as Edward Kenway, grandfather to AC III’s lead protagonist Ratonhnhake:ton (aka Connor). Now, instead of roaming through colonial America, you are roaming the seas as a pirate in the 1715’s Caribbean. A new staple brought about in AC III was naval combat, where you would command a vessel and engage in 1 on 1 ship combat on the ocean. While these were praised for their fun gameplay mechanics, they were far and few in between and only consisted of fights between boats. This time, however, the world is your oyster both on land and sea, as you are free to traverse the world by boat or foot. In addition to that, there are a few new tools on hand that you can use to safely dispatch your enemies. Being a pirate, Edward has access to flintlock pistols, which allow him to fire shots at a distance, and a blow dart that can be coupled with different types of darts for various outcomes. One such dart I saw was the berserk dart, which made an enemy go mad and start to attack his mates. Multiplayer also makes a return wherein you are tasked to go execute another player who is hiding somewhere in an active town within a certain time, all while another player has a bounty on you. As this is now the 4th time I have seen the multiplayer mode, there wasn’t much that impressed me, but it looked gorgeous and played at a crisp 60 FPS. Aside from that, not much is known nor was shown at the show floor, so I will have to wait for October 29 to see if it lives up to the legacy.
Sonic: Lost World:
Sonic is back and looking better than ever! After the one two punch of Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors, Sonic got me back in his corner and pumped for his latest outing against bad man Dr. Robotnik/Eggman. On the show floor I could not get much about the story of the game, but it seldom matters as Sonic games are more about the speed and sensation of whirring through gorgeous vistas at break neck speeds, and to that end Sonic Lost World is interesting. As stated before, Sonic games are about speed first, platforming second. This time around, however the levels are not really linear, in the sense that they are broken up all over the place. The first time you look at SLW you will think it’s a mod of Super Mario Galaxy. The stages range from the flat 2D/3D vistas that we grew up with to cylindrical lines with different parts of levels on each side. It is really hard to put into words but it really does seem to borrow heavily from the core concept of SMG. That said, borrowing is not such a bad thing as the sense of speed is still there, just now spread around in a new dynamic. There are still levels where you run as fast as you can, bounce off a couple of enemies, and continue going for the end. Likewise, there are still multiple paths that lead to the end of a level, giving speed runners another challenge. It was not all perfect, and trust me, you will hit a wall or two (literally) when playing this game, but few things are better than seeing the blue hedgehog run through Green Hill Zone at a crisp 60 FPS. While the early reviews that have come out have been less than hopeful, I’m hoping that the game is as much as a blast to play as it is to look at when it launches on the 29th of October.
Arkham Origins Blackgate 3DS:
Now here is something I was not expecting to see at all while at NYCC: a handheld batman game. Set three months after the events of Arkham Origins, the latest in the Batman Arkham series, this companion game for the 3DS and Playstation Vita has you going around Gotham interacting with Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, the Joker and several other storied characters. Developed by Armature Studio, a team of members who made Metroid Prime on the GameCube, this game plays akin to a Metroidvania than the traditional Arkham formula we have grown accustomed to over the years. It plays in an interesting 2.5D perspective, where the world is fully three dimensional, but you move on a linear path in it, with the occasional rooftop jump and bat hook to climb. The combat and detective modes, arguably the two most prominent features in the console games, are present but a bit underwhelming. The combat is still the same in that you time punches and kicks to the enemies in a rhythmic pattern while countering their blows when they choreograph an attack. However, there did not seem to be much outside of just punching and kicking the enemies: no grapple tricks, no multi-knockouts, nothing that I noticed aside of punching and kicking (though this could just be my error). The detective mode seemed to function just fine. You can use Batman’s gadgets as expected to see through objects, detect what weapons enemies were wielding, and so on. The graphics though did not impress at all, whether on Vita or 3DS. The game is slated for release on Friday, October 25 so maybe when it comes out I will be able to find out if it lives up to promise of the previous console versions.
by Ayodeji “Vatsu” Asagba