Hands On: Konami’s Upcoming Non-Motion Controlled Titles

jmaltz@pnosker.com August 29, 2010 0

Earlier this week we brought you all a look at the motion controlled games which Konami was showing off at their Gamer's Day event this past Thursday.  Here's a look at some of the upcoming titles which are controlled with more traditional means.







Concept: A game set in between the first and second SAW movies which brings the gritty horror of the series into your living room.

Gameplay:  If there is one thing this game does well, both for better and for worse, it is capture the essence of Saw.  The opening sequence immediately puts you into the role of Campbell, a man who has had an iron maiden-esque contraption attached to his head by jigsaw.  In order to get it off, you must cut open Campbell's face by a series of quick time button presses and left thumbstick movements.  Should you hesitate, so will Campbell, resulting in the loss of precious seconds which separate Campbell from a bunch of pointy steel rods.  It's nauseating, it's bloody, and it is unmistakably SAW.

This is further reinforced by the pace and visual styling of the game.  In both the demo levels we got our hands-on, the setting was some sort of dismal warehouse or low rent apartment filled with torture   In order to further the atmosphere, Saw II plays a lot with light and and darkness, with many parts of the level being pitch black with a lone light source. This darkness can also be helpful though, as sometimes certain clues need to be found in the dark while others can only be found when light is shining on them.  Overall, the combination of environmental design and lighting system work together  to create an atmosphere which is absolutely spot on.

In terms of gameplay mechanics, the second Saw title is classic adventure-puzzle fare.  You'll go through the levels room by room, with each area presenting a different sort of barrier to your advancement and a different puzzle to be solved.  The pacing is in general very slow, which at times makes the game feel more like a point n' click adventure than anything else.  This slowness is broken up by hair-raising sequences where you need to complete a quick button sequence mini-game in order to avoid getting impaled by a spike or meeting some other grizzly fate. 

Combat is not a major focus of the game, however it is present.  Fighting is handled in a couple of ways: weaponless and with weapons.  In the weaponless version, you will be tasked with guiding your enemy into a trap which will bring about a grizzly demise for your attacker (in our demo we had to guide them down an elevator shaft).  Once a weapon is in your hand, the name of the game changes to matching your button presses with the ones which appear on screen.  The combat isn't incredibly deep, but it does provide a nice change of pace.

: If the SAW movies made you queasy, this game is almost certainly not for you.  That being said, as there were more than a few instances I had to look away.  That being said, if you're a fan of the movies, this game will probably appeal to you if only for the fantastic atmosphere it creates.

Concept: A wrestling game based around the Mexican masked wrestling series

Gameplay:  We brought you an impressions Slang's wrestler while we were at E3, which should give you a good idea about many of the game mechanics including the create-a-mask feature, career mode, and online play. Sadly though, at E3 we didn't have the time to get a full hands-on with Slang's upcoming fighting game, so this was our first hands-on with it.  One of the most initially impressive aspects of Lucha Libre is its controls.  All strikes are mapped to the face buttons, with grapples being handled by holding the right trigger and pressing a face button.  The controls are responsive and give the game a pick up and play quality.  However, the simplicity of the controls masks a level of depth which only becomes apparent after playing Lucha Libre for a match or two.. 

When I first got my hands on the game I booted up a 1v1 match up and scoffed at the fact that the difficulty was initially set to easy.  Confidently, I slid the difficulty up to normal and started up a match with one of the licensed luchadors.  I was immediately receiving the biggest butt kicking this side of my brief stint playing Counterstrike.  As I stood there attempting to grapple with my opponent, he would simply counter (accomplished by pressing RB in time with it appearing on the screen) everything that I tried, resulting in me frequently wailing away on the A button in order to stand up, something which got more than a little repetitive.

After having been sufficiently humbled by another virtual man in tight pants, I notched the game down to easy and got a full appreciation of just how it played. Much of the game is based around the grapple and counter system.  Grapples will slam your opponent to the ground, allowing you time to build up your popularity through taunts and high flying aerials.  The counter system is also super simple, and even gives you dynamic feedback as to whether or not you were early or late.  However, your enemies are quite adept at countering your own attacks, you need to be continually on your guard in order to ensure victory.

One of the most unique parts of the game is the popularity system, which, as we detailed in our previous article, essentially replaces a health meter for your wrestler.  In practice, the popularity meter is a nice change of pace, mostly because it allows for you to swing the match even if you were getting pummeled before.  This gives you the feeling that you are never out of a match, which is certainly a welcome feeling.

The biggest flaw in the game to me was the continual button mashing that it felt like was happening.   Whenever you get caught in a grapple and brought down (which will happen with decent regularity even when you are dominating matches) you have to press the A button as fast as possible.  Similarly, in order to pin or submit someone there is a mini-game in which a lot of button mashing is required.  This continual hammering away on the face buttons becomes a little frustrating and repetitive after a while to say the least.

Verdict: When you're not button mashing to stand up; the game is good fun and a solid wrestling title.  However, we'll see just how irritating that gets over the long term once the full game ships this October.


Concept: A fully realized 3D take on the Castlevania series for the PS3 and Xbox 360 developed by a totally new dev team led by David Cox.

Gameplay:  Right away you'll notice that the game is GORGEOUS.  Literally everything from the water effects to the character models and animations is absolutely top-notch on the Xbox 360 version.  In addition to the technical achievements of the game, there is also a wide variety of levels and environments for you to explore.  In just our small demo, Gabriel Belmont visited a run down village, a nasty poisonous swamp, a lush forest, and an icy lake, all over the span of one chapter.  What's more, the tasks and enemies that you take on ins these areas are equally varied and you'll find yourself fighting grenade throwing goblins, wargs, and even taking on horseback levels.

Luckily, the game is not all flash and no substance, as there is also a robust combat engine to capitalize on the beautiful world that David Cox and company have created.  The action of the game
takes influence from a couple of games and combines them well to great success.  The first thing that you'll notice is Gabriel's weaponry, which is very reminiscent of Kratos' blades from the God Of War series.  You'll have two ways to utilize these attacks: area and direct, with both of them launching your whip out to wreak havoc on the surrounding supernatural enemies.  There is also an incredibly deep combo system which allows you to chain together attacks in order to take out your enemies. 

The other game from which you can see heavy influence is Shadow of Colossus.  This influence really shows up in the lone boss battle which was shown off in the demo.  The boss, a giant hulking stone thing, was truly awe-inspiring in its size and scale.  In order to defeat said stone golem, you had to climb up various parts of its body all  as you were doing everything to hang on.  Once you had summited your enemy, Gabriel had to find various glowing weak points and stab them in order to bring the boss down.  The whole fight was quite epic and very well executed, reflecting a level of polish that is evident throughout the whole game.

Additional depth is added to Lords of Shadow in the form of both a trials system and leveling.  The former tasks you with completing certain tasks throughout a given level for a reward.  This system could definitely add some Guardian of Light-esque replayability and is a nice addition for a title which otherwise might lack something in the replayability department (although it is slated to clock in at 25+ hours as is).  The levelling system is about what you would expect in an action game, as it allows you to defeat enemies and then use the experience earned from that to upgrade your character and unlock new skills, a system which allows you to customize Gabriel to your play style..

: The game is deep, it's action packed, it is paced well, it looks good, and you get to kick vampire ass with a whip.  Lords of Shadow has holiday smash written all over it.


[Saw II: Flesh and Blood]-$49.99 (Xbox 360) and $49.99 (PS3)

[Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes Del Ring]-$56.99 (Xbox 360), $59.99 (PS3), $39.99 (Wii), $29.99 (PSP)

[Castlevania: Lords of Shadow]-$59.96 (Regular Edition Xbox 360), $79.99 (Limited Edition Xbox 360), $59.99 (Regular Edition PS3), and $79.99 (Limited Edition PS3)

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