Archives for posts with tag: Kojima Productions

One of the surprise inclusions at Sony’s Gamescom stage show was a bizarre trailer for a new horror IP called P.T. Announced via a teaser showing gameplay footage interspersed with audience reactions, the game was apparently being developed by an unheard-of team called 7780s studio. A playable teaser (oh, I see what they did there…) was then put up on the PlayStation store for people to try for themselves.

Making it to the end of the demo revealed that it was actually a teaser for Silent Hills, a new game in the much-loved franchise brought to us by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, starring Norman Reedus. It’s not the first time that Kojima has used a fake game and developer to announce one of his titles – everyone remembers Moby Dick Studio’s The Phantom Pain – but this announcement took things even further; it’s actually a pretty genius piece of viral marketing – the demo was put on the store for all to download with the game announcement stuck on at the end, meaning that the first person to finish P.T. effectively got to announce a new game. That honour fell to the UK’s SoapyWarpig over on Twitch. Below, you’ll find the full teaser for Silent Hills.

But let’s talk about the teaser, as it bodes well for the direction of the full game. I’m superficially reminded of two games, the first of which is Silent Hill 4: The Room. Now, bear with me – I know SH4 wasn’t the most beloved of the series, but it does appear to take some cues from that. The demo essentially takes place in two rooms and an apartment corridor, and is in first-person like Silent Hill 4‘s apartment sequences. For me, those were the best parts of SH4, penning you into a small environment and making you watch through your character Henry’s eyes as strange occurrences and hauntings began to take over his home. P.T. achieves a similar tone here, though in far, far more unsettling ways.

Setting you loose in first-person in confined spaces really ratchets up the feeling of claustrophobia, and like Silent Hill 4 we also hear strange, disembodied snatches of audio (think along the lines of “Remember – I’m always watching you,” and you’ll have some idea). Then there’s the horrible scratchy, croaky breathing that will make you spin around, time after time, to try and see where it’s coming from. Sometimes you’ll even see what’s making the noise, and then wish you hadn’t; there’s a malevolent spirit stalking you in this place, and it seems to have something to do with the skinned horror in the bathroom…

This feeling of being enclosed is amplified by a minimal approach to interaction that brings to mind something like Slender: The Eight Pages – like that game, P.T. simply drops you into an area with no explanation and expects you to figure things out for yourself. You’ll walk that corridor many, many times, solving some kind of idiosyncratic puzzle to unlock the door at the end, often without even knowing what you’re supposed to be doing until you stumble upon it. The only thing you can really do is walk around and ‘zoom in’ to look closer at things, and the fact that you can’t really affect the world around you works in tandem with the claustrophobic, smothering atmosphere. For a video game – which so often are about power fantasies and wish fulfilment – it makes you feel uniquely powerless. All you can do is stare at things in the hope that you discern some clue, and who knows what’s happening behind you while your attention is locked on that curious photo on the wall.

It’s certainly an immersive experience, and it’s not just the first-person perspective that achieves that. The game features no HUD, no battery indicator for your flashlight – no screen furniture at all. You’re simply in a creepy place with an evil spirit, forced to look at everything through your characters eyes. It puts you right into the game, and some typically-Kojima tricks like messing with what you’re seeing through some visual effects (visual distortions, intentional screen tear – I even had the game white-screen on me once, and I genuinely wondered if it had crashed) really gets under your skin. It’s reminiscent of that classic Psycho Mantis battle from Metal Gear Solid, but it works so much better in a horror game, especially when you’re seeing through the eyes of the protagonist. You’ll be surprised how something as simple as changing the colour of the lighting can be quite so unsettling – just as you feel like you’re getting used to the environment, something in the way you perceive it shifts and it takes on a new kind of malevolence.

But how does this all tie into the greater Silent Hill franchise? Is it a reboot or a sequel? We’ll have to wait and see, though I did notice something during the demo – a message appears above the ‘safe’ door that reads, “Forgive me Lisa, there’s a monster inside of me.” This could be a reference to Lisa Garland, a character from the original Silent Hill who nursed Alessa Gillespie. I haven’t yet noticed anything else that would tie this game to events of the rest of the series, but I haven’t finished the demo yet so who knows what else I’ll see. I did manage to record some of my time with P.T. however, so if you don’t have access to it you can get a good feel for what’s going on by watching my video below. Be sure to use headphones.

Time will tell whether the Lisa mentioned here is the same one that Harry Mason stumbles across in Alchemilla Hospital, or whether there’s anything connecting this new entry to any of the older games. We can also hope that Akira Yamaoka will be returning to handle the soundtrack – the little teaser at the end of the trailer seems to suggest as much. But one thing’s for certain; Silent Hills is definitely in the right hands. Kojima knows how to mess with our minds, and that’s in full effect in P.T.

RevengeanceRaiden
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is better than it has any right to be. Originally announced in 2009, Rising was plagued by development difficulties over its four-year incubation, even being cancelled once by series mastermind Hideo Kojima when he felt his team couldn’t create the swordplay-based game he had envisioned. The main issue for the team was in trying to balance all-out, cut-anything action with the series’ trademark methodical stealth and infiltration gameplay. Something had to give, and ultimately the stealth elements were heavily toned down. But with a new focus on action, this change paved the way for Kojima to offer the project to Osaka’s Platinum Games, a studio with a masterful command of high-octane action games.

Bringing another developer on-board caused some consternation among fans of the Metal Gear series, but if you’re one of those put off by Platinum’s involvement, don’t be. It was the right choice.

Rising begins four years after Metal Gear Solid 4, with Raiden now working for Maverick Securities, a Private Military Company. Like Metal Gear technology before it, cyborg bodies have now gone mainstream, and with the fall of the Patriots’ nanomachine technology, PMCs have since turned to these augmentations in order to both create and regulate superhuman soldiers. Raiden, supported by faces old and new (one of whom is essentially Metal Gear‘s very own Jar Jar Binks), stumbles upon a conspiracy to destabilize the world in an effort to control this new war economy, a plot supposedly led by rival PMC Desperado Enforcement LLC.

While the storyline doesn’t have the twists, turns, double-bluffs and double-crossings typical of the greater Metal Gear saga, it’s a well-realised, well-told story for a six-hour action game, even managing to shoe-horn in a decent amount of character development for Raiden, as well as a number of memorable set-pieces, interesting antagonists and moments of sheer lunacy that underline the frantic action at the game’s core.

In motion, Raiden crackles across the screen like lightning, his high frequency blade a blur as he slices through his enemies. To keep Raiden in full flow, constant aggression is the order of the day, and this is reinforced by the parrying mechanic at the heart of the game’s combat system; there is no true block move in Rising, so you need to sense an attack coming (handily telegraphed by an orange flash), then press toward your opponent at the same time as hitting the attack button. Time this right, and you’ll not only parry the strike, but dish out one of your own and give yourself an opportunity to enter blade mode – granting yourself a few seconds of slow motion where you can freely cut the enemy up into however many robotic chunks you wish, at whatever angle you deem necessary – to finish the enemy quickly and stylishly.

This focus on offense even comes into play when healing Raiden. Though there are health packs to be found throughout his adventure, by far the most satisfying way to top up Raiden’s health and energy is via the game’s Zandatsu mechanic. Sufficiently weakening an enemy before dropping into blade mode will paint a small red square over their weak point, and successfully cutting this and nailing a button press will see Raiden acrobatically tear out the poor cyborg’s juicy, gooey spine to replenish his own reserves. Zandatsu never gets old, and it’s a true joy to pirouette from one enemy to the next, tearing out their innards in a staccato ballet of whirling destruction.

Raiden_slices_Ray

Of course, it’s not a perfect game, by any means. Graphically, Rising can often look a little flat, and it’s certainly not as pretty as it was when Kojima Productions first showed off their interpretation back at E3 2010. A bigger issue is the rather wayward camera, which frequently fails to frame the action properly, something that can be fatal considering the parry requires a directional input. And while Rising has a number of sprawling, lengthy stages, the final third of the game feels very rushed; of the last three levels, one is a ten-minute tear through an area you’ve already fought through, while the other two are essentially boss fights, though fairly lengthy ones at that.

But those bosses. This is a Metal Gear game, so it needed memorable bosses. And they certainly do not disappoint. In one, you’ll leap across missiles to close distance on an enormous Metal Gear Ray, before sprinting down the side of a disintegrating building to slice the metal beast in two. And that’s just the prologue; every one of the bosses will stick in your mind, though at first that might be down to the difficulty – Rising is a tough game, and if you don’t have your parry down, the Winds of Destruction, Desperado’s top agents, will punish you cruelly.

But pay attention, become proficient at deflecting attacks, and learn their patterns, and you’ll find some fantastic set-piece battles in the game, like the fight against Mistral and her swarm of Dwarf Gekko, or a samurai showdown with Jetstream Sam in the desert at sunset. Then there’s the ludicrously epic multi-stage final boss battle which, in its early stages, feels like a return to the screen-filling bosses from arcade games of old.

It’s in these boss encounters that the equally-frenetic music really comes into its own, and it’s a perfect match for the visuals; a blend of fast guitar work, electronic beats and filtered vocals that would probably sound cheesy as all hell in any other game. In Rising, it only serves to heighten the intensity of the encounters; Monsoon’s theme in particular is absolutely drenched in adrenaline, which is just as well, considering it may well end up being the thing that keeps pushing you to beat him instead of chewing off your own fingers.

But every boss has a memorable theme that blends so well with what’s going on on-screen, like two pieces of a puzzle slotting together to create an audio-visual blitzkrieg on the senses. If you’ve ever wondered what it might feel like to pour Red Bull directly onto your brain, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance should give you some indication.

If you’re one of those Metal Gear fans that dismissed the game, perhaps now is the time to give it a chance; it can be bought for such a pittance now that it barely counts as taking a punt, and since January of this year it’s also available on Steam. In the meantime, those that loved the game will be hoping for a sequel, and perhaps they won’t have to wait too long. Back in August last year, a Konami survey asked fans what they liked about Rising, and whether they’d buy a sequel. More recently, just last month Kojima himself took a trip to Osaka to meet with Platinum’s president Tatsuya Minami and director Hideki Kamiya.

Nothing has yet come of that meeting, but with Platinum soon finishing up Bayonetta 2 for Nintendo and TGS looming on the horizon, perhaps it’s not too much to hope that we may see a Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance 2 for PS4 and Xbox One before too long. Considering what Platinum managed to turn out in a little over a year with the first game, fans will surely be salivating at the thought of a next-gen follow-up.

Cross posted on 16bitkings

Kojima teases new ZoE title

A full-fledged sequel to 2003’s Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner has been outed by creator Hideo Kojima.

At a Japanese event to showcase the series’ upcoming HD collection, the audience was treated to artwork and a scale model from the as-yet untitled ‘Enders Project’. The game is apparently still in an “experimental” phase, and Kojima is looking to use the Fox Engine to power it. In the meantime, we have the aforementioned Zone of the Enders HD Collection, due some time this year, to look forward to.

Platinum announce Anarchy Reigns delayed in the west

Sega has delayed the Western release of Platinum Games’ brawler Anarchy Reigns, even though the game is ready to go.

A note on Platinum’s website confirmed Sega has changed the date to TBC (to be confirmed), and added: “While our work on the game is finished, localised, and ready to go, as publisher, Sega gets to make the final decision as to when it is released. The Japanese release date, however, remains unchanged for 5th July 2012.”

In a video, a Platinum rep noted: “The game is fully localised. If you buy the Japanese version or any version, it’s going to have all the languages in it.” So if you’re planning to import, at least language won’t be a barrier.

Persona 4 Arena confirmed for Europe

Atlus has announced that PS3/360 fighting spin-off Persona 4 Arena will be released in Europe.

The game, which is a collaboration between Atlus and BlazBlue developer Arc System works, features characters from Personas 3 and 4 and is set after the latter game. The characters are drawn in Arc System Work’s trademark hand-drawn style, and we can presumably expect it some time after its August US release.

Sony developing Shadow of the Colossus movie

Much-loved Team Ico classic Shadow of the Colossus is to be adapted into a feature film at Sony Pictures.

According to a report on develop.com, Chronicle director Josh Trank will helm the film. He apparently sought out the project, having been a fan of the game. There are no details yet regarding script-writer, cast or release date.

Wii U controller undergoes subtle redesign

An image posted to Twitter has shown a subtly different Wii U tablet to the one we saw at last year’s E3.

The photo came from the Twitter feed of a quality assurance tester at Traveller’s Tales, developer of the Lego “insert-franchise-here” games (and Sonic R! Come on!), and shows that the pad now has actual analogue sticks, rather than the 3DS-style slide pads it previously sported. The start and select buttons have also shifted position.

Personally, I think this is a positive change. As much as I like the 3DS’s sliders, they’re good for a handheld. On a home console, I think they’d feel inadequate.

Are these the only changes we’ll see? We’ll no doubt find out for sure at E3.