Category Archives: Previews

Preview: Toukiden: The Age of Demons

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toukiden-screenshot-23The Monster Hunter craze is very hard to replicate. The Nintendo exclusive games have been nothing short of massive in Japan as well as a growing following in the US. That does mean there’s no Monster Hunter on the PlayStation Vita, despite it being a better fit possibly on Sony’s handheld. There have been some games on PlayStation Vita that aimed to be system’s Monster Hunter including Ragnarok Odyssey and Sony’s own Souls Sacrifice even though it changed some things up a bit. Toukiden: The Age of Demons is more traditional in terms of comparisons to Monster Hunter but with a nice art-style and ancient Japanese lore and music, Toukiden is one you should definitely keep your eye on.

In Toukiden: The Age of Demons, you visit a village which has been battling evil creatures that have been attacking the area for the last eight years since they made their way through a portal in an event known as “The Awakening.” The story is interesting to say the least and are sometimes advanced through great looking CG cut-scenes.

But it’s not in the premise and story that will keep you interested. The gameplay of Toukiden is what will keep you invested. In the game, you will choose your weapons from swords, knives, spears, gauntlets, chain and sickle, and a bow. Not only can you upgrade them, you can also create new ones with the materials you pick up in the battleground. This isn’t anything new to those who play much of the genre but it has an accessible but deep feeling to the mechanic.

While there is nothing massively different about the game that makes instantly unique, it’s actually in the execution of everything together that keeps you going back and playing the same missions over and over again. There is a lengthy demo available to download for everyone and it’ll last a few hours. When I reached the end of the demo, I just kept going, replaying the missions and completing the questions.

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The jobs you must do is broken into two: missions and quests. Missions are your standard quests that send you to do tasks in each map. Quests mostly require you to collect a certain number of materials. While they may sound like a grind, it’s the type of game that is all about the slow progression; although don’t take that as a negative.

Battling is fast and responsive. Depending on the mission, you can either take three AI controlled companions or go online and play with up to three other players online. Combat is fast and rather simple with each face button being all you really need. Should you want to pull of special abilities, you can hold the R button to unleash your mitama abilities.

Mitama are cards you will find on the battlefield by defeating enemies. They are as a buffer to help boost your stats as well as allow you to unleash four separate abilities. Each Mitama can be levelled up by using them on the battlefield or by spending your currency. As your mitama levels up, it will give you other boosts to help you when in combat.

Toukiden: The Age of Demons is coming to PlayStation Vita on February 14th.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier beta impressions

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It’s been almost five years since the last time we walked a mile in Ghost Recon’s shoes and after numerous delays, the next game in the franchise titled: “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier” is almost here. Ubisoft launched a multiplayer beta for people on Xbox 360 who bought Splinter Cell: Conviction two years ago or for those who have PlayStation Plus on the PS3. What was on offer was slim but it gave a great indication of what the full multiplayer suite has in store for us when the game launches on May 25th.

The beta featured two maps and two game modes. The two maps featured were titled mill and pipeline. Both maps offered different feeling environments that required different tactics to really succeed within. Pipeline is a big map, however the areas were broken off into smaller sections for more close range action and tactical placement. Utilising the engineer’s equipment right could result in you creating a great choke-point which is really important as the two game modes in the Future Soldier beta were objective based.

Mill on the other hand was more open and featured more natural terrain which resulted in a map that felt really fresh. Both maps were fun but I noticed myself voting for the mill map all the time after just a few matches. It’s open for more mid to long range players but also using the drone for the engineer can map out all the enemies.

Tactics play a major role in multiplayer matches and work extremely well. Working together as a team of different classes can really be an unstoppable force. A good scout and engineer team on the mills map could easily be a force to be reckoned with.

But the real force to be reckoned with is the other competitive multiplayer shooters out there. Does Ghost Recon Future Soldier stand a chance? Honestly, if enough people take the time to get to grips with the different feel and experience Future Soldier offers, it could easily be in the top 10 played games online within a few weeks. One feature that is sure to get gun-nuts drooling over is the gunsmith feature.

As you level up your class you earn tokens. This tokens can be used to unlock new parts for your gun. That may all sound like simple upgrading but its nothing like that. Every part you have and unlock have pros and cons and depending on what way you want to approach the battlefield, different attachment variations will be needed. To make the feature more impressive is just how much you can tweak on your gun. There are nearly a dozen different parts of an assault rifle yo can customise. This means that not many players’ assault rifles will look or shoot the same, making your player more catered to yourself as a player, and that’s something that could easily keep people invested in. The changes are not just cosmetic.

In the time the beta lasted, I had a real blast playing the multiplayer component. So much in fact that I noticed myself naturally choosing that game over all my other typical shooters I play online so I could throw a few rounds of saboteur on the mill map. Ghost Recon Future Soldier certainly has the potential to bring a lot of people to the future battlefield when the game launches on May 25th on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Hands-On Preview: Battlefield 3 Close Quarters

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Battlefield 3 went head to head against the juggernaut Modern Warfare 3 last year and honestly held up really well. The game has sold over 13 million copies to date and in Ireland especially is remaining in the top 10 selling games each week while Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is now holding on dearly to stay in the top 20. It seems as though the open battlefields with infantry and vehicles has grabbed more and more people in. So when DICE and EA announced that its upcoming DLC will rid the game of the main aspect that separated the game from its competitors, people questioned their decision. After spending some time with Battlefield 3′s Close Quarters DLC, I can safely say that it still feels like Battlefield 3 and at the same time brings a whole new feel for the multiplayer. It’s safe to say I really liked it.

It was a couple of weeks since I had jumped on Battlefield 3′s multiplayer component. This was the longest gap of not playing the game since launch. I can safely say that playing Close Quarters has definitely got me right back into playing Battlefield 3. The maps on Close Quarters is are small and are for infantry only. Although this may feel like its just like its competitors but it really feels like a middle-ground. The maps aren’t too small, and all feature an amazing amount of destruction to further enhance the chaos.

The map that I played on was call Donya Fortress, a middle-eastern looking building complex set on multiple levels. The mode I played on was conquest and the game was only available on PlayStation 3, probably because the pack comes to the PS3 a week early.

The map featured some small, but open areas but also had a few closed corridors that were perfect for choke points. The open areas mostly feature multiple areas so open areas can’t always be uncontested. As firefights raged on, walls, pillars and most other things were torn asunder and honestly it made the fights more intense and fun to be a part of.

The game may have felt chaotic at times but it really was some of the most fun I’ve had in multiplayer in some time. The games that I played were closely contested, even one coming down to each team just having one token on each side. It was thrilling and witnessing “your team won” was just so satisfying.

The map pack will feature four maps, although two have yet to be announced. The pack will be available to download in June, with it arriving on PlayStation 3 a week early.

Hands-off Preview: Crysis 3

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It’s safe to say that I’m quite a big fan of Crysis. I remember playing the original game on my laptop chugging along at 13 FPS but I still completed it. It’s one of the only game franchises that make me feel like I’m playing more than just another shooter. You can imagine my anticipation then when I got to see Crysis 3 in action a couple of weeks ago in London. Here’s what I thought:

Crysis 3 sees you take the role of Phophet once again, the protagonist of the first game that killed himself in the second, or at least we thought he did. More than twenty years has passed since Crysis 2 and with that the setting, while a familiar place, has changed quite a bit. The game is once again set in New York City. However, thanks to the new domes spread around the city to contain the seph virus, nature has claimed the city. The developers right off the bat said that they didn’t want to do New York with a small aesthetic change and from the 10-15 minute demo presentation I witness, it definitely doesn’t look or feel that way.

Crytek mentioned that this time they want to make you feel like the hunter. Your newest toy, the bow, definitely goes some way to make you feel like one, picking one enemy off at a time. Crytek producer, Rasmus Højengaard, said after the presentation that they are not sure whether the bow will be an always equippable weapon or something you may pick up from time to time. Either way, it does bring more of a hunter feel the that game. On top of that, at one point when he shot the bow, it followed the arrow through the air and it was one of those “damn” moments just because of how good it looked.

That feeling was felt throughout the demo as the playing stuck to the high grass and utilising the stealth power of the nanosuit. Speaking of the nanosuit, it has changed in a few new ways. The first notable one is that you can now hack turrets to turn them on your enemies. There are no mini-games and other things that could slow down the pace so its nice and streamlined. You can now use a power punch when things get hairy but the up close executions with the knife should be the way to go. The last thing, and possibly the biggest edition is that the suit is able to use alien weaponry that can certainly change the flow of combat.

This was seen when the player used the alien mortar gun that sent blue explosions everywhere that just looked glorious. There is new human weaponry though too in the form of a gun that can shoot 500 rounds a second. No that’s not a typo, five hundred rounds a second and it sounds amazing, like rolling thunder.

It wouldn’t be right to talk about Crysis without mentioning the CryEngine 3. Yes simply put, its the best looking game I’ve seen to date. Although the demo was being played with an Xbox 360 controller, it was on PC and it just looked phenomenal. The demo level was set in a swampy area and bugs were flying around and when the player stopped for a moment you could see frogs hopping about in the swampland. It’s attention to detail that no one else does in shooters like Crytek.

Although the game is at early days I did feel slight reservations. A part of me can’t shake the feeling that it might play too much like Crysis 2. Don’t get me wrong because Crysis 2 played amazingly well but the fact that you are still in New York, I just hope that the environments are diverse enough and there are enough set-pieces that really keep players invested. For now, colour me very interested as Crysis 3 launches next Spring on Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, and PC.

Chillingo mobile games hands-on impressions

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Whether you play them or not, casual and mobile games have made their mark on the gaming industry. This has further been made in concrete by the fact that one of the biggest publishers in the world has been buying casual and mobile game developers in recent years and one of those developers being Chillingo. I recently had the chance to sit down and try a couple of their newest mobile games

The Act

The act is a re-release of an old arcade game but is now being brought over to the iPad. Essentially the game sees you trying to complete a number of tasks by either swiping your finger to the right to do a bold action and to the right to be more retracted.

The hands on demo showed two scenarios. One saw the character you play daydreaming about “wooing” a nurse he sees through the window while him and his brother, working as window cleaners, clean windows. The scenes sees you at near a bar where you see the women sitting at the bar and you make your way over to get her attention.

Moving your finger too much to the right and he will jump at her thrusting in her direction which naturally results in her walking away. You must subtlety become more bold, with timing being your best friend.

The second scene been show is after the daydream when your boss catches you doing just that. He’s on his way out to you but there’s one problem: your brother is drunk. Where the first level was all about subtlety moving to the right, this scenes sees you moving from right to left. You must keep your brother working while stopping your boss from coming outside and seeing your brother drunk. If you go too much to the side of the brother you’ll make him cry because of the abuse you give him and the boss will also come outside.

It must be said that the animation in The Act is fantastic and it looks like a great fun little game to play on your iPad that’s a little bit different.

Commando Jack

Commando Jack is basically a tower defence game. Despite the tower defence genre coming a dime a dozen in recent times, Commando Jack still has a lot to like. The game is on mobile platforms only, so with that levels are limited; five to be exact.

There is no ultimate base to protect; rather a turret. This turret only operates when you are controlling it. Therefore you can put down your defences and then hop on the turret for extra firepower.

The maps go from sparse and basic on the easier difficulties but play the same map on a different difficulty and you will see more objects added to the map to change both yours and the computers tactics.

The enemy is pretty smart, taking the quickest route to your turret to destroy it. To combat this, you can lay down weapons and sandbags to create a blockade and in turn make the enemy take the longest route possible. It’s a simply but great little mechanic.

As of writing there is no release date or price point for either of these games but they both offer something fun and in some ways different experiences for your mobile device.

Hands-off preview: Medal of Honor Warfighter

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When Medal of Honor was rebooted and released in 2010 it really felt like it was releasing just to add a little spice to the military shooter window against its competition. Although it sold well enough, it just didn’t resonate that well with critics and then eventually fans. Medal of Honor Warfighter feels quite different in terms of it direction and honestly I walked away from the hands-off preview surprised and more interested in the direction of the game.

Despite its gameplay, Medal of Honor Warfighter is not your typical military shooter. You aren’t facing a single army. Instead, as a Tier 1 operative, you will be tasked with rescuing hostage among other tasks. The demo that was shown was set in the Philippines during monsoon season so the town was being destroyed by floods.

The mission saw you trying to save some hostages from the top of a hotel. The gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect from a first person shooter. The game does allow you to have two scopes on certain guns, something that real Tier 1 operatives use. As you fight your way up flights of stairs, you really start to see the destruction in the environments due to the Frostbite 2 Engine. Wooden banisters and balconies splinter and break away as you are surrounded at every angle.

Then the team came to a locked door and you were given the choice to choose which method you wanted to breach the door. We were told that depending on which way you choose to breach the door will have varying results that you must be careful as to what is on the other side of the door.

The demo concluded with an on-the-rails shooting section though the flooded town on a boat. This looked a lot like the typical adrenaline pumping sections seen in its competition and something the developers must be careful with to not dilute the personal feeling of these characters. Destroying a town and killing dozens of people may detract from feeling for these characters and their lives after mindlessly killing hundreds of people.

The stories are supposedly inspired by real events and although the set pieces have been anted-up to ensure a more “fun” playstyle. This means the developers, Danger Close, have a unique approach to how we feel about what these people do and why they put their lives on the line. However, I can’t help feeling that these emotions will be stunted by the explosion fuelled set pieces and sacrificing honest feelings and authenticity for a more adrenaline fuelled fun. This authenticity is the driving force behind Medal of Honor Warfighter and is potentially its biggest selling point.

Tyler, is a previous Tier 1 operative who will have a massive impact on the storytelling and the design process in the game. Medal of Honor Warfighter aims to tell the story of the operatives and the impact their jobs has on their personal lives. During the hands off preview, we were told multiple times that these people you will see in the game have families and this impacts the relationship you have with them.

I went in not expecting much but left thinking about the potential behind this title. If executed right, this could really make us care about characters in a military shooter, something that has always been absent. Impacting us like never before is what could really put Medal of Honor back on the map. We’ll find out when the game launches in October.

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