NYCC: The Rest Of The Games

jmaltz@pnosker.com October 13, 2010 0

Scattered amongst all of the panels and large booths for video game companies at this year's NYCC were a bunch of companies who hadn't brought an obscene amount of content but still had a presence at this year's show.  With that in mind, here is the best of the rest video games at this year's New York Comic Con

 

Dead Space 2

 

 

The first, and definitely the scariest, game in the best of the rest for NYCC is  Dead Space 2.  The title, which is a sequel to the survival horror classic, Dead Space, throws you back into the role of Isaac Clarke.  Our demo had us exploring a little bit of the space station Sprawl, taking on Necromorphs, and solving puzzles in the process.

We started off in a very creepy lab-like atmosphere which Isaac, had to navigate through.  As we moved through this section of the demo it was literally oozing with ambiance, as almost right off the bat a busted valve sent steam gushing into my path.  Even something this small was enough to have me nearly jump out of my seat in the bright lights of the Javits Center, thanks in part to some superb ambient sound design.

Continuing on my path through the Sprawl, a Necromorph aptly titled the puker busted out of one of the capsules lining the side.  After regaining my wits, I got my first taste of combat.  While avoiding the stream of toxic puke sent out by the Necromorph I threw him into stasis, took precise aim and shot off his head.  Much to my shagrin, this didn't completely deal with the problem, as my foe just continued puking acidic vomit at me. 

You see, the enemies in Dead Space 2 aren't really alive, so headshots don't do much good for you.  Instead, taking out their limbs is the most important, especially when your enemies have sharp talons for arms.  The whole system is gory, nasty, and incredibly scary, especially when taking into account the hyper-realistic graphics.

After continuing through a couple more combat scenarios featuring different necromorphs which tested my wits and aim I entered into the first puzzle of the level.  I was confronted with a giant spinning sphere which had to be locked down in order to continue.  Doing so required me to make use of both telekenisis and stasis, as the core needed to be stopped from spinning out of control.  The puzzle, although short, was actually quite clever and bodes well for the unique ways in which Visceral games will be using Isaac's power come 2011.

After completing the puzzle, there was a brief section in which I suspended gravity and Isaac was required to float through a constantly closing doorway by using stasis on it.  Immediately after entering this new area Isaac were pinned to the ground by a fittingly giant and scary monster. In spite of the cinematic feel of the moment, we had to keep our wits as there was a glowing yellow portion on the monster which just screamed "shoot me".   After taking a couple of pot shots at it, our captor eventually ran away, leaving us to fight another day.

Barely able to take a breath while exploring the gorgeous cathedral we found ourselves in, we were immediately assaulted by a wave of creepy baby-esque monsters who needed to be avoided, put into stasis and taken out in groups lest they overwhelm the protagonist. Just another awesome combat sequence of many in the demo.  Almost near the end of our demo, we continued exploring the church, running into two more different enemies: a necromorph with slasher wings and a creepy looking gravedigger-esque enemy with an explosive growth on his arm.

In order to survive the encounter, we had to shoot off the arm of the latter bad guy, giving us access to his explosive arm via our kenisis power.  This allowed us to make short work of the former as we now had a veritable grenade at our disposal.  Throwing our makeshift explosive at our slasher necromorph friend got the job done quite efficiently

Continuing on, after an incredibly cinematic experience in which Isaac was almost sucked into space there was another frantic battle with an oversized baddy.  Much like the first one, there was thankfully some explosive material nearby which allowed for victory if our wits were quick enough (they sadly weren't the first time through).  The tactics in the fight were the same, however, the experience was so cinematic and so awesome that you barely even notice it. 

After breaking away from the baddy's clutches we at last saw our freedom.  With a mad dash Isaac had to stasis the Necromorph and sprint to safety, only to find himself sucked into space by the same ship he had just avoided.

To say playing Dead Space 2 was a unique and satisfying experience would probably be the biggest understatement I can possibly make, as it was truly a fantastic survival horror experience for the brief time that I played it.  considering EA is now offering Dead Space Ignition as a pre-order bonus for fans, it's definitely worth considering placing a pre-order requrest for it now.

James Bond 007: Blood Stone

With the departure of Daniel Craig as James Bond, fans of the series have been left wondering who will replace the blue eyed bond.  Fortunately, Craig's departure hasn't stopped the Bond videogames from being created, as he is going out with one last hurrah with Bizzare Creation's first take on the Bond license 007: Blood Stone.

One of my biggest questions going into our demo with Bizzare was how exactly they would handle combat.  Bizzare has answered that question well, setting up a combat system which feels very Bond-esque.  There are a couple of ways to play the game.  The first is as a classic cover-to-cover shooter.  In this mode, the game functions more than adequately.  The cover mechanic is solid, allowing you to pick and pop your way through enemies without skipping a beat.  All of the classic cover-to-cover moves have also been integrated, which allows for transitions between positions.  Additionally, the cover system allows players to hold a corner while fighting, something which is very useful if you need to round a corner but not exit cover.

Additionally, as Bond battled our way through El Greco's (one of the main baddies from the game we assume) henchmen on a yacht on an exotic locale we were also introduced to another way to play the game using more of the Blood Stone's hand-to-hand combat.  Rather than overwhelm players with combinations of button presses, Bizzare has chosen to simply make a simple system mapped to the x button.

By just running up to your enemies and pressing x, Bond will execute a cinematic takedown on his enemy, permanently putting him out of commission.  These can be done in both stealth mode(if unseen) or non stealth mode (just running up to the guy and pressing x).  Either way you complete a takedown, it will fill one of three slots in your focus bar. Activating the focus bar will make your next shot a one shot kill.  As a result, you can create quite a balance between getting takedowns, using your focus, and using cover-to-cover shooting in order to make your way through each level.

After fighting through El Greco's yacht we got a taste of some of the vehicles that will be in Blood Stone. This is where Bizzare's experience in making driving games really shines.  The first driving mission was actually not in the Aston Martin but in a boat.  Even though the medium on which you were driving was different, the boat still handled quite well.  Even not having any experience with the game it was a synch to weave in and out of the exploding marina.  The cinematic feel of these moments was compliment by occasional moments where the gameplay slowed down in order to force you to shoot out the driver of other boats.

The second driving level put us into the seat of Bond's classic Aston Martin in pursuit of a runaway train with some sort of weapon which could destroy the world.  This time the same qality driving mechanics were there, although the cinematic factor was turned up to 11.  Not only did the music convey a sense that you really WERE Bond, but the normal explosions were augmented by a helicopter chase and needing to navigate razor thin ice-paths in order to avoid driving into the water (something which was, admittedly difficult to do).

Overall,  my time with Blood Stone left me with the impression that it doesn't have quite the same raw quality of a game like Dead Space 2.  In spite of this though, the team at Bizzare have done an excellent job at capturing the feel of the Bond films, something which certainly makes the game a consideration for gamers of all types, Bond fans or otherwise.


Wakfu

Most of what Square was showing at this year's NYCC wasn't particularly groundbreaking.  Their booth did sport demos of FFIV and Front Mission Evolved, but both of those were also released.  There were also videos of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dungeon Siege 3 but those were very similar to what was shown at E3, making it somewhat old news to us.  Knowing this, it would be easy to dismiss the entire Squre booth as simply full of old material.  However, sandwiched between all of these games was a little MMO titled Wakfu which has some interesting concepts.

For those of you aren't aware of Wakfu, one of the first defining aspects of it is the tactics based battle system.  For those who aren't familiar with what exactly this means, essentially your characters will be laid out on a grid which can then be maneuvered around in order to gain the upper hand on your opponent.  After closing within range of your opponent, you can then attack to take down your opponent. Each attack will use up a certain number of action points, a fact which forces you to plan out which attacks will make the best use of available action points.  The whole battle system threw plenty of things to consider when dealing with just me, so I can only imagine the complex battle scenarios which will unfold with multiple, live characters on screen at once,

Since the developers needed to take into account the fact that real players would be fighting in the battles, they have taken the obvious step of putting each turn on a clock so that one person can't just stall forever.  Adding to this, there is also a bar which gets filled based on how quickly players finish their turn.  Once this bar becomes filled, your character will be granted specific combat bonuses.  In practice the system provides a nice layer of depth to gameplay, as you need to balance thinking quickly and going through all possible options for the maximum advantage.

Another interesting part about Wakfu, which will be free-to-play, is that the developers aren't building many quests into the game, instead leaving it up to the players to create a world which is continually evolving.  One way in which they are doing this is by creating an expansive political system.  The whole world is divided up into nations and territories (the numbers of each are still up in the air).  When players start their character, he or she will swear allegiance to a nation and a territory and from there work for the benefit of that nation.  These groups will then continually be interacting, vying with other parties for power.

In order to facilitate the political landscape functioning well, Square has created a political system within the game. players can participate in elections for governor which are slated to occur every two weeks.  By winning the election, players get the ability to control how the ecosystem (more on that in a touch) will function for their tenure as governor and they will maintain diplomatic relations with other territories. This seems like it could create a very interesting dynamic by allowing players to essentially assume to role of politician within the game world even though they are specifically a red mage.

As for the ecosystem mechanic, the governors will be able set which plants and materials will be prioritized during his or her time ruling, thereby altering what can be created from that territory.  However, should your territory's opponents decide that they aren't a fan with what's going on in your home, they can come in and wipe out the entire ecosystem, thereby requiring higher level players to reseed it.  Alternatively, if a single player does enough damage to a single area a bounty can be placed on his or her head.  Also players can base quests off of the world around them, as individual players can offer rewards for completing certain tasks such as harvesting a given number of crops.

All of these new features are grafted onto a classic MMORPG formula which allows you a tremendous amount of customization and upgrading through the discovery of new items/loot.  Windows, Mac and Linux players will have to wait until April 2011 to get a full taste of how Wakfu plays.  However, a beta is planned for early 2011, so gamers who are very interested can probably get their fix before then.

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