So I’ve returned from my trip to Mexico, and just now got around to setting up my systems, and have been digging around the Xbox Live Marketplace. Needless to say, I’m a little behind on game releases. On that note, I have been playing games for review (and some of them are pretty dated, so sorry about that), but I just had to play some of these games and give some impressions on them.
I’d been hearing a lot about this one, and I wasn’t really sure what to think. Opinions range from it being too action oriented to it being too much of an RPG. So when I was looking through the demos on the marketplace, I quickly downloaded it, waited for it to finish, then started playing.
Now that I have a modest idea of what the game is about (and really, demos can only give you so much of a glimpse of the complete product), I think I can say that I like it, but not as much as I thought I would. The combat feels…well, awkward. I think it’s innovative to have the attack button be the right analog stick, don’t get me wrong, but I just had some problems getting used to the right stick not being in charge of camera control. I would often find myself trying to get the camera to look where I wanted it too and end up swinging my sword. That’s not to say the camera is bad (you can always center it by clicking one of the bumpers), It just takes getting a little used to.
But aside from the getting used to it thing, there are problems with the fighting. In the demo, the enemies would die so quickly at the hands of any melee weapons (keep in mind I was the barbarian) that I never felt like I was fighting anything, just sorta hopping from one enemy to another, killing everything I saw. Guns didn’t seem to do much except hold enemies in the air (a la Devil May Cry 4), and did really tiny amounts of damage (again, I was the barbarian, which probably menas that gun-toting class will do more damage with those). It did feel fun, but it was more akin the Marvel Ultimate Alliance than to DMC4, I guess I wasn’t ready for that.
The looting part of the game was fine though. After you beat certain enemies, they’ll give you loot. Like that one game. At first the menu confused the living hell out of me, I didn’t know where to go to see what stuff I had just gotten. After that small hump, equiping my guy with things became easy, though for someone like me, who has to check the menu everytime he gets something to see if it’s better than the stuff he has, it made for a lot of menu time. The weapons certainly did feel different from one another, but only when the picture of the gun was different. Guns with the same little picture (like handgun versus a rifle and a two handed sword versus having one in each hand), all felt the same. The stats were different, but the weapons always seemed to really do the same exact thing. I guess I should expect that from lootfest games by now.
The story that I played was short, but I think I’ve had enough of the story to know that won’t care about it. Norse mtyholgy in the future, with humans with guns fighting robots or something works and all, but it didn’t really do anyting for me. The dialogue was horrendous as well. Sure, the sort of stuff the characters are spouting seems appropriate for Norse mythology, but I just felt the developers forget their game was set in the future, not in Norse times. As a whole though, I really did like it, but I really can’t tell how much Until I get my hands on the final product.
Tales of Vesperia
Ah, finally, it’s the latest game in that-series-that-I-haven’t-played-since-Symphonia, otherwise known as the Tales Series. Now, it’s very hard to actually make a demo of a RPG, because you only get such a small fraction of what the game really is, and since RPG’s involve payoff over a long period of time, you miss out on more than you would than say, a First-person Shooter. Nonetheless, I commend Namco-Bandai (not sure if there should be a hyphen there) for releasing anything at all.
Out of the small amount of time the demo provided, I got a good vibe out of it. The graphics are far improved from the their PS2/Gamecuve predecessors, with sharper colors, textures, and animations, although it’s a little hard to tell, what with the cell-shaded style and all. The demo opened with a cutscence that again exemplifies how bad acting in RPG’s are, especially in the english dub versions. Then, I got to the part where you run around and find monsters, which wasn’t all that bad, as it follows the same formula as other Tales games, which is you see an icon of the monster encounter, and you can choose to avoid or fight it at your leisure. This meant that there wasn’t a lot of stopping my progress and getting annoying, like other RPG’s tend to do.
The encounters are quick, but it took me a bit to get reaccustomed to the control scheme on a 360 controller. Regular attacks are handled with the B button, special moves are handled with the A button, or A and moving the right stick in a given direction, which held up quite well. I was comboeing regular and special attacks very early on, and it feels nice to do so. You control one character and the AI controllers the other three, but I don’t know if you can issue them commands, like you could in other versions, I didn’t really get a chance to experiment.
The demo (or at least for me) ends with a boss battle, who was quick to deliver my butt to the right address, mine. I don’t know if there’s more after, but I get a feeling you just get another cutscence and the demo ends. Whether I lost or not isn’t really important, because I got enough out of the game to feel that’s it shaping up to be just like the other recent games, and to me, that’s a good thing.