Archives for posts with tag: Crimson Dragon

xbod1
DPD have just dropped off my shiny new console!

I’ve yet to get it set up, but it’s all out of the box. First impressions? I actually really like the way it looks. It’s solid yet light, and gives off a rather ‘premium’ feel. I admit, when it was first unveiled in May, I didn’t like the design at all, but now it’s in my hands, I really like it.

I’m just about to get it all set up and updated (fingers crossed) so no doubt I’ll have more to add later in the day.

***UPDATE***

Oops, I promised to come back, didn’t I?

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to check out half of the games I ordered yet thanks to the day one update taking forever (which was entirely my fault – I sat watching it go nowhere for over an hour before realising I had a dodgy homeplug. When I switched it for a new one, it took about fifteen minutes). I managed to download Killer Instinct and enough of Crimson Dragon to play the first mission, so I’ll give some impressions about those shortly.

Firstly, some words about the UI: I think it’ll take a bit of getting used to. On the surface, it’s very well laid out and easy to use, but some stuff is fairly obscured, making me wonder if Microsoft simply expects everyone to use voice controls. One thing that kind of annoys me is not being able to go back up a step in a menu if you’ve exited and returned to it. Here’s an example: say you go into the store and load up the page for Netflix. Say you then press the Xbox button to go back to the homescreen (or indeed say “Xbox, go home”). If you then click on the store tile, it’ll take you back to that app page. You’d expect that a press of ‘B’ will take you back up a step to the store front. It doesn’t. It’ll return you to the home page.

This was maddening at first. Then I realised that to actually close something, you need to press ‘menu’ (what was once the start button) on that tile to bring up a contextual menu. Selecting ‘quit’ will end that particular session, allowing you to start afresh again. It’s convoluted, and a bit annoying, but perhaps there’s a way to do it within the specific app or store that I haven’t yet figured out. I need to spend a bit more time with the system before I get it all figured out.

Now, about those voice controls I mentioned. I’m very impressed, actually. I’ve turned the system on and off, loaded and switched between apps and games, snapped GameDVR to Killer Instinct and even recorded clips, all with my voice. Best of all? No more inputting codes! Simply say “Xbox, use a code”, hold the QR code up so Kinect can see it, and in a second or two you’ve got your content on-screen. It’s fantastic and incredibly snappy. I have had a few instances where it ignored me, but I was speaking rather quietly. Still, I had to speak a bit louder than I’d like, considering I’m talking to a games console. Putting that aside, colour me impressed. I often had a grin on my face when telling it to do something that it simply then did. It’s responsive, and it’s fast.

Onto the games. My order came with boxed copies of Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3, and a download code for FIFA 14. The disc games have to be fully installed (though I believe they allow you to play once they’re around halfway through installation), and obviously FIFA 14 has to be downloaded. I also downloaded the Ultra Edition of Killer Instinct and Crimson Dragon, and these took quite some time to come down the pipe. I’m guessing the XBL servers are getting hammered as it’s day one, so hopefully things will be a bit speedier over the next few days. KI (at 3.4GB) took well over an hour to download, and Crimson Dragon was, last I checked, still downloading. The latter allowed me to play from 51% installed, but curiously only gave me the first level – trying to launch the second mission gave me a prompt to wait for the rest to install.

So, Killer Instinct. I’ve talked about it a fair bit before, but I’d only had ten minutes on it before today. I’ve managed a few hours across a range of modes today (Survival, Versus against CPU and the excellent Dojo Mode) and I think I’m in love. I’m still getting to grips with how it plays (and even though I immediately bought the full Ultra edition, I’ve yet to use anyone but the free Jago), but I’ve managed some 18-hit combos and cancelled a throw into a shadow endokuken a few times, which is pretty glorious. I’m only playing it on ‘noob’ difficulty while I get to grips with it, and I’ve managed to capture some clips with GameDVR, one of which you can see below.

GameDVR and the PlayStation 4’s equivalent are really going to be game-changing features, I think. Even if it’s just sharing what you’re doing with a friend rather than plastering your videos all over social media, it’s something that I can see getting a hell of a lot of use. Gaming is inherently social as far as I’m concerned; even if I’m playing a single-player RPG, I’m always talking about what I did with friends. Now with GameDVR I can easily record it and show them. For now, the Xbox One feature can only save the video locally and show it in your activity feed, or upload it to SkyDrive. I use SkyDrive quite a lot anyway, but it’s simple to download the video from your online storage and upload it to Facebook or YouTube, as I have done with the above clip.

Crimson Dragon is a game I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I am a big Panzer Dragoon fanboy, and recent videos had suggested that Crimson Dragon owed a fair bit to Panzer Dragoon Zwei, a game that comfortably sits in my list of top ten games of all time. I mentioned above that I only managed to play the first mission, but I did quite enjoy it.

The game looks nice, more from an art/design perspective than a technical one (it’s fairly obvious it was once an Xbox 360 title), but the controls will take some getting used to. The Panzer games used one d-pad/stick for both aiming and moving, with 90-degree sweeps around your dragon handled by the shoulder buttons. It was a very elegant control method, and one that Crimson Dragon really should have copied. Here we have the same limited on-rails movement and radar divided into 90-degree quadrants, but the controls use the left stick for movement and the right for aiming and it’s a bit jarring to have to do each separately. I was struggling quite badly for the first half of the first mission and just barely scraping by after a few minutes. In the older games, using a shoulder button to quickly switch your aim to the side was perfect. Here, you have to slowly pan the camera around and hope you don’t take a hit.

It also appears you can’t shoot enemy bullets out of the sky, you simply have to dodge them (which is made more difficult than it used to be by that twin-stick control method) or barrel rolling out of the way (which is easier). Defense was a key part of gameplay in the older titles; you couldn’t avoid everything and it was necessary to shoot enemy fire before it reached you. It feels somehow wrong to not be able to do this, but again I’ve only played about ten minutes; I’m sure I’ll get used to both the aiming and the game itself the more I play it. It says something that despite these issues I still really enjoyed my short blast of Crimson Dragon – despite handling and playing quite differently, it felt like a Panzer game, which is the most important thing for me; as long as the feel is right, I can adapt to the differences, and I think with a bit more time invested I’ll really enjoy it.

So that’s about it for my day one impressions. There’s been a lot of waiting, a lot of downloading and installing, and quite a bit of Killer Instinct. Hopefully, things will have settled down by tomorrow and FIFA, Forza and Dead Rising will be installed and ready to go. And maybe my copy of Ryse will even turn up. Then I’ll have to install that, too…

I’ll no doubt have more impressions to come throughout my first week with Xbox One, so if you’re interested keep checking back.

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I don’t usually post about mobile games, but this one’s got me very excited; a mobile title in the new Crimson Dragon universe is coming to WP7 next Wednesday. For those not in the know, Crimson Dragon is a forthcoming XBLA Kinect title directed by Sega’s Team Andromeda alumni Yukio Futatsugi, and it’s a spiritual successor to the cult favourite Panzer Dragoon series – a series of which I am a massive, massive fan.

I’ve been patiently waiting for more news on Crimson Dragon for some time and none has been forthcoming. Indeed, it was delayed for unspecified reasons shortly before its original Japanese release date of June 13th came and went, making me wonder whether we’d see the game at all. This surprise announcement gives me hope we’ll soon hear more about it.

Getting back to the news at hand, the mobile game, imaginatively subtitled Side Story, is a sidescrolling shooter set on the planet Draco. You play as Sana, pilot of a dragon named White Reaver, and you’re on a mission to investigate a mysterious plight called Crimsonscale Disease.  Your dragon is upgradable, a feature first seen in Panzer Zwei, and the original series’ iconic lock-on laser makes a welcome return too.

The game goes live on the Windows Phone Marketplace next Wednesday (September 12th), but no price has yet been announced. Either way, count me in.

E3 is almost upon us, so today, in lieu of the usual ‘Sunday Soapbox’ piece, I’ve decided to list some of the things I’ll be looking forward to or blindly hoping for. Because everybody loves a good list, don’t they?

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo starts on Tuesday June 5th at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, though Microsoft will be jumping ahead of the competition by having their press conference the day before. Yup, that means tomorrow!

So what am I looking forward to? I’ll try and group my thoughts by publisher or developer, so read on to find out, and then leave a comment to let me know what you’re looking forward to.

Microsoft
Seeing as they’re first off the blocks, I’ll get straight onto the Xbox 360 manufacturer, and the obvious starting point is Halo 4.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a massive, massive Halo fanboy, so I’m predictably overexcited about the prospect of seeing some single-player footage, learning more about the setting and figuring out just what in the name of Sergeant Johnson is going on. I’ve read a few previews that have all described the beginning of the game (which unfortunately doesn’t answer any of the above questions), and I have a feeling that this is what we’ll be seeing as an on-stage demo. Not that this would disappoint me of course – I really want to see what 343i have achieved with their first entry into the franchise.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the devs have to say about multiplayer; fans have been worrying that Halo 4 seems to be going the Call of Duty route, with perks and other xp-based unlockables. Halo has always been an open playing field – if you win, it’s because you’re better than the opposition, not because you have better equipment. Hopefully 343 will be on-hand to allay fans’ fears.

The new Gears of War game, titled Judgment, will also be a big draw for Microsoft’s conference, and again, I’m looking forward to find out what’s going on. It appears to be a prequel, given the existence of Locust forces and the fact that Cole looks very young, and it’ll also be interesting to see how deep Bulletstorm creator People Can Fly’s involvement goes. Essentially nothing is known about this title yet, so hopefully a full reveal will help to ground it somewhere in the existing Gears canon.

I’m also wondering whether we’ll see more of Crytek’s Kinect action game Ryse this year. It’s been awfully quiet of late regarding the former Codename: Kingdoms, so perhaps E3 is the perfect time to show it off. Sticking with the Kinect theme, I’m hoping to get a good long look at Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon. As a big, big fan of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon (all four games still proudly grace my shelf), the spiritual successor to that series is one of my most highly anticipated games this year. An on-stage demo would be great, as would a release date.

Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon.

Sony
What I really want to see from Sony at this year’s E3 is massive support for their new handheld. I absolutely love my Vita (I’m currently making my way through Resistance: Burning Skies), but most wouldn’t argue the point that it’s floundering in the marketplace at the moment. Some big new franchise announcements specifically for the Vita would certainly help alleviate the perception that it has no games. Seeing Ken Levine walk on-stage to demo BioShock Vita would certainly be a good start, and perhaps we’ll hear more about Killzone and Call of Duty. Aside from shooters, I’m hoping we’ll hear about some good RPGs coming to the handheld in the next year.

Besides the Vita, some gameplay footage of The Last of Us would be great to see. The trailers so far have got mouths watering, but we know nothing of how the game will play. Will it be a post-apocalyptic Uncharted, or will Naughty Dog pull out all the stops and head in a completely new direction? I can’t wait to find out.

Joel and Ellie, wondering what they’ll be doing for the next ten hours.

Square-Enix
The Tokyo-based company recently announced their list of games they will be showcasing at E3, and all I can say is I hope they’re planning to hit us with a load of surprises. On the list were Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Heroes of Ruin and Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS. The rest are mostly mobile phone games.

Seriously Square-Enix? It’s Final Fantasy‘s 25th anniversary! Come on! They have to have something up their sleeves, don’t they? Final Fantasy Versus XIII is apparently not being shown at E3, although recent rumours have claimed it’ll be renamed Final Fantasy XV and will in fact be unveiled at the trade show… I’m taking that one with a barge-full of salt, but I am blindly hoping for some kind of big FF news at the Expo, considering the 25-year milestone. At the very least I want to see the PS3/PSV re-release of Final Fantasy X that we’ve heard absolutely nothing about in God knows how long. If Square-Enix’s conference holds no surprises, I’ll be very disappointed.

Nintendo
The house of Mario are expected to unveil their final Wii U hardware and, more than anything, I’m hoping to see a gorgeous HD Metroid adventure (hopefully from Retro Studios please!). Despite last year’s HD Zelda demonstration, I don’t expect to be seeing anything from Link and friends this year, though I imagine we’ll get a proper glimpse of a new Mario game. I think Nintendo will keep Wii U game reveals to a minimum and focus on the console and tablet and what they can do together, allowing third parties to take up the slack, as they did with their E3 2011 showreel.

Hopefully we’ll see some great new 3DS titles announced (perhaps a new handheld Zelda?) as well as get a good look at New Super Mario Bros 2, and I’d love to see more of Luigi’s Mansion 2.

Namco-Bandai
Having recently watched a Namco-Bandai presentation (at last week’s London Expo), I’m not foaming at the mouth (quite as much) to see Ni No Kuni and Tales of Graces f, though more on both would certainly be welcome. I’d love to get confirmation of a European release date for Tales of Xillia though, and I’d imagine we’ll be seeing more of the recently-announced Xillia 2. Tying into my earlier words about Vita games, I’m also hoping we’ll get a Western release announcement for the handheld’s version of Tales of Innocence R, too.

Others
Electronic Arts will no doubt have a strong presence at the show, and I’m looking forward to a full-on Dead Space 3 reveal, though I am worried about how far co-op will permeate the core experience of the game; let’s hope it’s entirely optional, though I’d prefer it if co-op was a separate side-story entirely. Crysis 3 will most likely also be a focus for EA, and I’ll be hoping it’s more like the first than the second, with large, open environments with flowing objectives and tactical options that allow you to feel like the Predator.

I’m hoping to get a good look at both Zone of the Enders HD Collection and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from Konami, and it seems they’ll also be tearing the veil from two new Castlevania games – a direct sequel to 2010’s Lords of Shadow and a 3DS spin-off.

Ubisoft are expected to show off tropical shooter Far Cry 3 and colonial stab-’em-up Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’ll be looking to THQ to show us how Metro: Last Light is coming along. Last but by absolutely no means least, I’m hoping for a solid release date for Jet Set Radio HD. And while you’re at it Sega, how about some Shenmue news?

Yeah, I’ll keep dreaming…

Given that it’s one of my most anticipated titles due this year, I’m a little surprised I’m only just seeing this trailer now. Nevertheless, it’s got me even more excited for its release.

For those not in the know, Crimson Dragon is billed as a spiritual successor to Sega’s currently-dormant Panzer Dragoon series, and is being produced by former Team Andromeda leader Yukio Futatsugi, who directed all three Sega Saturn Panzer Dragoon games. It’s due for release sometime this year on Xbox Live and is a Kinect-only title.

Being an enormous Panzer fan (I still have my mint, boxed copies of all four titles, thank you very much), I’m a tiny bit disappointed that Crimson Dragon won’t be a physical, boxed release – this is exactly the kind of game I’d buy a special edition for. I’d love an art book and soundtrack cd, especially as Manabu Kusunoki (designer/CG producer for Panzer, Zwei and Saga)  and Panzer Saga/Orta co-composer Saori Kobayashi are both back on board for this title.

But as long as it plays as nicely with Kinect as 2011’s Child of Eden (also created by a former Sega alumnus, Sega AM3’s Tetsuya Mizuguchi), I can certainly forgive it being a digital-only release. Hopefully we’ll see more, and maybe even get a release date, at E3 in a couple of weeks.