Archives for posts with tag: PS3

destinytravBungie have officially torn the veil from their secret project Destiny. Actually, they did yesterday, and I was busy. But enough about me.

Destiny is the first result of Bungie’s current deal with massive publisher Activision, a project they hope to expand across the next decade and the coming console generational divide. It seems to take the form of some kind of Massively Multiplayer FPS, as had been rumoured for some time. This, despite Activision publishing chap Eric Hirschberg saying that it’s definitely not an MMO. Well, that’s that settled then.

Bungie invited press to their offices earlier this week to unveil their new universe, so it’s worth scouring those articles for more detail.
Here I’ll just touch on a few things gleaned from them.

Destiny is Bungie’s big plan for the next ten years of their existence, and it’s described (by that same Activision fellow) as the “world’s first shared-world shooter”. What this appears to mean is that the game takes place in a persistent world (like an MMO), with your avatar being one of many player-characters in that world (like an MMO), and these characters can tackle missions together (like an MMO…). To be honest, I’m intrigued by a sci-fi shooter where I can team up with friends whenever I want to take on missions, as long as I can also enjoy any content I want as a single player, and Bungie suggests that Destiny will be perfectly playable in isolation… though you will need to be connected at all times while playing, meaning other player-characters will at least be visible to you in the world.

What really draws me toward Destiny is the opportunity to explore a new Bungie-created universe. I am an enormous Halo fan (you could quite accurately call me a total Halo fanboy), and part of that is down to the expansive universe that the series is set in and the depth of lore and history that can be found in the extended universe content. With a wide-open persistent world that’s begging to be explored, Bungie have an opportunity to bake a lot of that background into the world itself with Destiny, allowing players to stumble upon the secrets of the universe through their own rangings, and the concept art we’ve seen so far has me salivating. To accompany yesterday’s various press pieces, a ViDoc was posted to YouTube showing off various pieces of that concept art (and a few glimpses of in-game footage too), and I just can’t wait to explore these spaces, with or without friends. (And also, +1 internets to whichever Bungie guy named the ViDoc as an homage to their 1993 release Pathways into Darkness).

I like the premise behind the story, too; that a golden age of humankind was shattered by some unknown enemy, only for an equally mysterious saviour to come to our rescue. I want to know more about the enormous sphere that floats above humanity’s last city and learn who this cryptic benefactor is and what their motives were. I want to discover why these antagonistic aliens decimated our solar system and left our worlds in ruin. I want to journey to Mars and run through ancient human structures ravaged by battle. And I want to bound across the surface of the moon and look down on the besieged Earth below.

Here’s hoping that Destiny offers all that and more, and that I can also drag a couple of friends along for the ride. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye or three on this in the coming months as Destiny nears release on Xbox 360 and PS3. A PC release is apparently under consideration.

Square-Enix have shown off the first screens of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn for PS3, and after the glorious PC stills and footage we’ve seen, it’s not hard to be a teeny bit disappointed.

Granted, it’s only mildly disappointing in comparison to those screens, and I doubt anyone was expecting anything approaching parity with a high-end PC game. It’s still a very nice-looking game, if a little jaggy – hopefully the final game will look a little cleaner, especially given the amount of detail on display in the screenshot above.

One of the screens also gives us a glimpse of the console version’s UI, which looks somewhat reminiscent of the PS3’s XMB system… of which I am not a fan. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and perhaps it’ll be useful to have a UI I am at least familiar with when I’m trying to get to grips with my first MMO.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will launch on both PC and Playstation 3 in 2013.

About a week ago, I managed to squeeze out close to three thousand words on the Resident Evil 6 Public Demo, and as I’ve been playing the full game since Monday, I thought I’d add a short update.

My feelings were somewhat mixed after playing the demo, and objectively, they’re much the same now; the demo really was representative of the final game. Environmental textures are often painfully low-res, while some objects (such as curtains in a house you traipse through) are so bad they wouldn’t look out-of-place in an N64 game. In general, it’s a great looking game, and the lighting is often used to fantastic effect, but look too closely at the details and it’s striking just how ropey some elements can look. Capcom pulled in staff from other projects to get Resi 6 finished ahead of schedule, and visually, some parts do look rushed. It’s disappointing, because its immediate predecessor is still one of the best looking games this gen.

But this hasn’t stopped me from really enjoying the four or five hours I’ve currently put into it (exclusively in Leon’s campaign). It’s similar to Resi 5 in that it is almost entirely all-out action and relentless forward momentum, but it does have touches of Resident Evil 4‘s tone, if not the survival horror underpinnings of older games that some were hoping for. In fact, I’ve been surprised by the way Leon’s story has started out, with one section giving me a very Dawn of the Dead remake vibe as you try to hold out with survivors, with a later section in Tall Oaks Cathedral reminding me of the castle in RE4. It even throws in some light puzzling, but is mercifully a far shorter segment than Agent Kennedy’s adventures in Salazar’s Spanish abode.

Movement is the same as in the demo (clunky cover system included), but once you get used to it, figuring out that sprinting allows you to auto-hurdle obstacles and learning how to slide and dodge effectively, it really opens up how much scope there is for traversal and combat. The new control system has also allowed Capcom to throw out the over-generous AI from the previous two games, whereby enemies would rush at you before stopping a few feet away to allow you to get a shot off. The result is much more frantic combat, and you’ll frequently be overwhelmed by hordes of zombies if you’re not careful. It’s often a better strategy to create a path and run.

I mentioned that the demo was laden with ammo, and guessed that this wouldn’t be the case in the final game, but here I was clearly wrong. There is ammo all over the place, including drops from defeated enemies, and you will often feel like you’re armed to the teeth. However, this being Resi, you’ll eventually come up against a boss that will seriously stretch your resources. Skill points are also strewn throughout the game, and these allow you to buy skills inbetween chapters that boost your defense or melee strength, or deaden your recoil. Any skills you have already purchased can be equipped and un-equipped on the fly.

Each of the three main campaigns (Ada’s is unlocked after completion of the main trio) are five chapters long, and at around four hours in, I’m still on chapter 2 of Leon’s story. My completion time for chapter 1 was 2 hours 32 minutes (I do tend to be quite meticulous), so if this pace carries on, I’ll be looking at over ten hours apiece for the main campaigns. Word is that Leon’s is the strongest campaign of the three, but it’s hard to take anyone’s word on anything when it comes to Resident Evil 6 – it’s almost impossible to parse the emotional from the objective.

I don’t want to say too much about the way Resi 6 has been received by the internet at large, as I don’t want to be dragged into the maelstrom of stupidity. I will say that Edge and Eurogamer have given the game a 6, GamesTM a 7, and these scores I can fully get behind. Some others are just plain trolling, and the usual hate brigade has jumped on the bandwagon looking to confirm their preconceptions. I have utterly despaired at some of the things I’ve read about this game online over the last few days – some people seem to periodically lose the power of rational thought and deal only in absolutes; if an anticipated new release isn’t the greatest thing ever pressed to a shiny circle of plastic, then surely it must be a stinking pile of putrid crud that blights all of humanity by its mere existence, right?

I’ve seen the game described as anything from “the worst game this year” to “utter shit” (usually from people who’ve tried the demo already expecting to hate it), and this is pure hyperbole. I’ve also seen someone claim that the game should be boycotted by all ‘proper’ Resident Evil fans. I don’t know what that means, because I’ve loved every main series title up to this point, and so far I’m thoroughly enjoying my time with Resi 6. Unless it goes massively downhill from here on out, it’s looking like a solid 7/10 for me.

And I said I didn’t want to get involved…

Resident Evil 6 launches in a little under two weeks, and Capcom have now released a ‘Public Demo’ to give us a chance to work through a short segment playing as each of the three main campaign characters – interestingly, their partners are also selectable, but for the purposes of brevity, I’m writing only about the main three here.

You’ve probably seen YouTube videos of the campaign demos shown so far by Capcom and deduced that Resident Evil 6 is a very good-looking game. Well, going by this demo, it is and it isn’t; Character models are excellent throughout, animation is of a consistently high quality, and everything else looks great at a bit of distance, but get too close to objects and you can see the decals are low-res and blurry and environmental details look very flat. It’s worth remembering that this is a demo, and we have no way of knowing how old the code on display here is – the final game may look much more polished. I certainly hope it will, because while Resi 6 certainly doesn’t look bad, it could look better – after all, its immediate predecessor is still one of this gen’s best-looking games. Elsewhere, environmental lighting is very well-used throughout, especially in Leon’s segment, with excellent contrast between brightly lit areas and those drenched in darkness. There are also some nice particle effects in place – upon shooting a fire extinguisher, a cloud of mist obscured everything from my gaze, which helped to add a little tension to proceedings.

Getting into the game proper, the first thing you’re likely to do is try out the new dodging mechanic. Holding the left trigger while pressing a direction on the left stick and tapping A (it sounds more cumbersome than it is in practise) sends your character dodge-rolling in your chosen direction, landing on his back, gun aimed forward. From here, holding onto the trigger and pressing the stick allows you to either roll to the side or shuffle back or forward. This last move is unintentionally hilarious, as we watch our hero’s knees move up and down while he (very) slowly slides along on his back. The environments we’re given to run around in this demo are made up of many narrow corridors, so it remains to be seen quite how dodging will be of use – hopefully later levels will be more open, allowing a greater variety of battlefield tactics.

Elsewhere in the controls, the quick-knife is now gone, replaced by melee kicks triggered by pulling RT – up against one enemy, it’s entirely possible to kick them to the floor before stamping on their gooey noggins, though it seems a little less effective for crowd control, and a depleting stamina bar means you can’t always rely on your physical attacks connecting. A slight niggle for me is that right stick camera control feels a little… off. I don’t quite know how to describe my issue with it, but it felt like I didn’t quite have the precision control I would have liked, and I often found myself either under- or over-shooting my camera movements. Hopefully this has been tightened up for the final game, as I don’t recall having any issues with the camera in RE5.

Leon’s segment

Leon’s demo begins with that cutscene we’ve all seen a hundred times by now, with the floppy-haired agent and his new partner aiming their guns at the undead president. In truth, it’s a poorly conceived cutscene to begin with; Leon, once rookie cop now hardened agent, has come through the events of Resident Evils 2, 4 and Degeneration, yet here he stands warning a clearly far-too-gone president not to come any closer. “Don’t make me do this!”, he shouts… at a zombie. I know it’s the president, and sure, a working relationship, a friendship even, is vaguely hinted at, but he’s still a zombie, and this is Leon S Kennedy ferchrissakes!

Ok, it’s a small thing – a short cutscene obviously made to inject a little drama – but when we, as Leon, have shot hundreds of infected square in the face over the years, it creates a tangible barrier between the character and the player: We know we’d shoot the guy, and we know Leon would shoot the guy – he’d have to, and he knows it. There’s no other choice here.

Anyway… deep breath… with a brief chat with Resi 4‘s Agent Hunnigan out of the way and a goal of reaching Tall Oaks Cathedral, we’re given control. We set off for the Cathedral through the halls of Ivy University, though this is a different section from the demos we’ve already seen. We make our way through hallways and lecture theatres until reaching a courtyard, and there’s a security gate at the far end that we need to get through. The atmospheric lighting is really quite impressive in this section, illuminating areas with bright pools of light while leaving much of the courtyard in darkness. At first, it appears there might be two or three zombies in the area, but scanning the environment reveals a number milling about in the middle distance, silhouetted against the building.

It’s a cool effect, almost as if the enemies are hiding in plain sight, and I like that they don’t immediately gravitate towards you (or even seem to notice you) as soon as you enter an area – it gives you a feeling that you might almost be able to sneak through un-noticed. Not that you’re likely to try, as the level is positively dripping with handgun ammo (I had over 100 rounds before reaching the end). This is most likely a feature of the demo, and I can’t see the full game being anywhere near as generous with the little red boxes. There are also other ways to dispatch your foes – if they happen to be holding a weapon, softening them up with a few melee attacks will grant you a context-sensitive kill animation whereby Leon disarms the zombie of its weapon before burying it in their rotting skulls. It’s quite satisfying.

Back to that security gate, and of course, this being Resident Evil, it’s locked and we need a keycard. Incidentally, when was it that Resi‘s puzzles degenerated into fetch quests..? We’re sent into a corridor bisecting two outdoor areas, lined with windows on either side. There are zombies standing around outside on both sides of the corridor, minding their own business. So I shoot a couple. This causes them to come shuffling towards the now-broken windows, before trying to climb over the empty frames. I kick them out and dispatch them, and their undead comrades don’t seem to mind. At the far end of the corridor, the door we need to get through is, unsurprisingly, locked. Attempting to force it results in a loud alarm that attracts all the zombies and compels them to smash through the windows, quickly overwhelming our two agents. Hunnigan remotely opens the door and Leon and Helena stumble through with zombies hot on their heels, leading to a pretty cool little section where the player has to pick off a couple of the undead as Harper struggles to slam the door on them.

While fairly obvious, the corridor assault might have been a good set piece had I not accidentally ruined the illusion moments before by attempting to get a reaction from the rotting bystanders, and it might even have been quite atmospheric to be sneaking unnoticed through an exposed corridor only to get sprung moments later. It’s at this point that it occurs to me that at no point have I felt anything approaching fear, or even a creepy sense of dread. I realise I’ve felt perfectly comfortable walking around the halls of Ivy University and dispatching the occasional zombie. I’m willing to concede that this is purely down to a lack of context – I don’t know why Leon and his partner are here, nor do I know any of the events that have led them here, so I’m not at all immersed in the game. This is a problem with all demos, of course, and the reason it’d be foolish to disregard an entire game based on a small slice, and I hope that the full game will be able to draw me in.

Anyway, getting back to our keycard quest, and we’re back inside, quietly making our way past invulnerable corpses that you just know are going to stand up on the way back out. Apparently they’re triggered by a keycard; who knew? Well, I guess I did. Note to Capcom: this does not build fear, it merely reminds us we are in a game and that logic can be conveniently ignored when necessary. But whatever, we have the keycard, and now we can get through that gate! It leads out into a narrow brick alleyway and a gauntlet run of zombies that attempt to close you down quickly. I make a futile attempt to take them out but they quickly corner me, so I decide it might be prudent to sprint to the objective – an empty patrol car at the far end of the alley.

Upon reaching it, Leon and Helena jump in, before a couple of zombies decide to join them by using a window as a point of ingress. Leon hurriedly looks for the keys, helped by the player in a (rather pointless) sequence of QTE prompts, and our heroes make their escape… before crashing a few hundred yards down the road. Oops. Hunnigan informs Leon that she has found an underground route to the Cathedral. There’s a manhole nearby; “Oh great,” I say, actually out loud, to nobody in particular, “a sewer level.” The demo ends there, and already I’m not looking forward to that level. Capcom, don’t end the demo on the promise of a sewer level! No one likes sewer levels!

Chris’ segment

Resi‘s resident rock-punching ‘roid-rager begins his slice of the demo in the fictional eastern European state of Edonia, and visually it reminds me of the assault on Landown in Gears of War 2. Gears is a pretty good touchstone, in fact, as Chris’ campaign taster is all-action and introduces the new, mutating J’avo enemies. Like Resident Evil 4‘s Ganados, you never know if an enemy will sprout a new appendage and come back stronger – this time with a huge, biological armoured shield. This is used both for cover as they slowly approach, or a massive battering ram as they suddenly inject a burst of speed and close on you in seconds.

All enemies in this section are armed with weapons, and they are also more abundant, which makes the game’s cover system more important here. It could certainly do with being a bit less clunky – you hold the left trigger near cover to put your back to it, and for low cover you’ll also need to press the A button to crouch. Two buttons for different heights is overkill, as is having to hold a button to stay out of harms way. Ammo also seems to be less plentiful in this segment, though it may be that I was being wasteful after the Leon ammo-a-thon.

Arriving, Call of Duty-style, on top cover of an APC, Chris’ demo begins with a pitched battle in the war-torn streets, before advancing through buildings with new partner Piers in tow. As the pair cross a bridge connecting the two sides of the road, a new enemy appears, a huge El Gigante-style monstrosity with an obvious, fleshy weak point on its back. The camera zooms in, framing the action as if it’s a cutscene, but we’re still in control and able to move along the length of the bridge taking potshots at the monster’s back. As it advances, we jump from the bridge back onto the street and we’re suddenly taking part in an arena battle as we wait for assistance from the APC. It’s a narrow street, but with two levels on either side, there’s plenty of scope for movement and flanking, and it’s an enjoyable segment as battle flows from one end to the other, one side of the street to the next.

After we take down the enormous creature, it’s time for the rookie squadmate, Finn, to shine. We’re dropped into another arena encounter, this time with a number of standard enemies (with some wielding RPGs), while Finn places explosive charges to create an exit for the squad. Once they’re out, the demo comes to a close.

Chris’ section certainly picks up where Resi 5 left off, and though many seemed to hate it, I loved my time with that game. There does seem to be a slightly less fluid feel to the mechanics, most likely down to that clunky cover system – you’ll remember that cover was contextual and sparingly used in Resi 5, meaning the game kept you moving a lot more. On the strength of this demo section, Resi 6 seems to lack this momentum, but it might simply be a case of getting used to a slightly modified way of playing.

Jake’s segment

Jake’s section begins with him meeting Sherry for the first time in Edonia before a horde of zombies advances on the pair, forcing them to escape down a chute in the wall. It must be a very long trip, because when we rejoin them, we’re suddenly in China. Narrative jumps aside, Jake plays much the same as the other protagonists; despite being touted as a melee powerhouse, his attacks don’t seem to do much more damage than Chris or Leon’s. He does come fully-stocked with an assortment of weaponry, though, and there’s also an option to use his bare fists.

Those extra guns come in handy against the different types of mutating enemies introduced here: Dead Space-style skinned abominations that scuttle along the floor before firing spikes at you (do NOT let these corner you), and a different J’avo variant with a spring-loaded arm to knock or pull you from cover. If anything, Jake’s section feels more action-oriented than Chris’, as we’re dropped into small areas with barred doors that require working with your AI partner to open and an abundance of tough, varied enemies that require you to switch up both your tactics and your weapons. It’s worth pointing out here that accessing your inventory does not pause the game (in all campaigns), which means dipping into your inventory to switch things up will invariably result in you taking a hit. Thankfully, weapon and grenade switching is mapped to the d-pad, and RB serves as an auto-heal button.

As Jake and Sherry make their way through the streets of China, their way is blocked by some new, skinless horror, but we don’t get a chance to test our mettle against it as the demo comes to an end. There is likewise no sign of the Nemesis-like creature we’ve seen stalking Jake and Sherry in other promotional materials, and going by this segment, he’s likely to be tough when we do come face to face with him – this segment of the demo is easily the most difficult of the three on offer here, and attempting to rush through will only get you cornered and killed.

So far, there’s not much to pick between the three characters on offer in Resident Evil 6. They all seem to play much the same, but with upgradeable skills (that don’t seem to be available in the demo, despite the abundance of skill point pickups) perhaps they will eventually play significantly differently to one another. It certainly feels like Capcom has attempted to recapture some of the series’ earlier horror stylings with Leon’s campaign, with his section taking on more of a slow-burn approach with shambling zombies hiding in the shadows. Hopefully, the atmosphere will come into its own in the full game, when we can sit down and allow ourselves to get fully immersed in Leon’s tale. Likewise, it’ll be interesting to see how the three protagonists are drawn together and pulled apart as the plot progresses, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about Jake’s backstory. I’m a fan of Resi‘s camp, pulpy narrative – perhaps more than I should be – so the storyline is as much a draw for me as the gameplay.

Many have complained about Resident Evil 6 being a tale of worldwide outbreak and massive action, calling for Capcom to return to the days of creepy, claustrophobic mansions and gothic horror, but it’s worth pointing out that since the events of Resi 2 (which many fans hold up as the finest installment of the series), this was always going to be the way it went. Escalation. You can’t have a city-wide outbreak ‘solved’ by a tactical nuclear strike and then go back to secretive mansions. So while there are plenty out there already hating the latest installment and willing it to fail, I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll be an excellent game. The demo is more-or-less what I expected, and I’ve yet to play a main series Resi that I didn’t love (even 5, which many claim destroyed the series).The three characters and their converging narrative threads should do much to keep the experience fresh, and I’m confident that there are many surprises awaiting us in the final game, which goes on sale on October 2nd.

At a special event in Tokyo, Square-Enix have revealed the latest piece of Lightning’s story. It’s a PS3/360 game scheduled for a 2013 release, and it’s called Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. In the short video below, producer Yoshinori Kitase briefly introduces the game, stating that it will portray Lightning’s final battle, and end her saga that began in 2010’s Final Fantasy XIII.

The game takes place in Novus Partus, a world of four islands that float in the Sea of Chaos. These islands are surrounded by a blue lagoon that simply drops off into an abyss, lending the world an ethereal beauty. These islands apparently play host to a range of environments; from rocky terrain to desert and ruins, and are said to be full of wilderness and ripe for exploration.

In the video below, XIII-series art director Isamu Kamikokuryo goes into more detail on the world of Lightning Returns, and while it’s interesting that Square-Enix have chosen not to simply call this installment Final Fantasy XIII-3, Kamikuryo points out Etro’s throne and New Cocoon in the environment art of the world’s largest city, Luxerion – two major plot points from XIII-2.

Also of note is the monorail, which allows Lightning to travel between the islands, and I must say, the design of the architecture and the notion of a train system linking the different ‘island towns’ immediately calls to mind the PS Vita’s excellent Gravity Rush – certainly no bad thing. It does make me wonder quite where this new installment takes place, though; is Novus Partus on Gran Pulse? Surely not, but we can see New Cocoon floating in the sky. Is it somehow connected to Valhalla? Considering the placement of Etro’s throne, could it actually be Valhalla, but in a different time? I’m cetainly a little confused!

EDIT– According to IGN, the game is indeed set hundreds of years after the events of XIII-2 (the latter events of which took place hundreds of years after XIII…) and the game features a doomsday clock, which counts down to the end of days; the game itself begins 13 days before the end (didn’t the flashbacks in XIII also start 13 days before the events of the game?).

Ok, the doomsday clock idea I can get behind; it reminds me of Majora’s Mask, and it’ll be interesting to see how Square-Enix implement a similar system – will we be able to undertake actions that set the clock back and give ourselves more time? But setting the game hundreds of years further into the future kind of irks me… Isn’t the time travel getting a little out of hand now? If you want people to care about your world, surely a little consistency is needed? Perhaps the team will address this by allowing us to see inside New Cocoon, thus drawing a tighter thread between Lightning Returns and it’s predecessor?

Some gameplay details were also discussed at the event and detailed in a liveblog on Andriasang. Once again, the game will be directed by Motomu Toriyama, who spoke about how they wish to portray Lightning in this third game. He noted that in XIII-2, Lightning had become something of a demigod and that the team want to show her as she was in the original game… before stating that she will be more powerful than ever before in Lightning Returns. Once again, I am confused.

There will apparently be some scope for customisation in-game, with references made to Lightning’s outfits and weaponry, and the game is being developed with button response in mind, though Toriyama stopped short of declaring it an action game. A trailer was also shown to those in attendance, though photography was strictly forbidden by this point. Hopefully it’ll surface online before too long.

We can expect to hear (and hopefully see) more on September 4th, though for now I remain a little skeptical. My interest is piqued, and I’m glad to see Lightning take centre stage again after the Serah-heavy XIII-2, but I hope Square-Enix have some way to tie this all together, acknowledging the previous games while also giving us something new to explore.

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Tales of Graces f for PS3 releases here tomorrow, and thanks to the magic of pre-ordering, my copy arrived on my doormat this morning. So, I thought, why not take to the interwebs and show people what comes in the box? The result is Push Start Gaming’s very first video!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Square-Enix have flipped the switch on a new website, ahead of the September 1st unveiling of the next step in the ‘Lightning Saga’.

Many have speculated that the Japanese developer/publisher will be announcing a second sequel to 2010’s divisive Final Fantasy XIII, and considering the game and its 2012 sequel XIII-2 have sold a cumulative total of almost ten million copies, it certainly makes sense from a business perspective. An announcement for another DLC pack (like XIII-2‘s ‘Requiem of the Goddess’) is also a possibility, but would an event and a dedicated website be necessary for a simple add-on? My money’s on ‘no’.

Either way, we have a little over a week until we find out for sure. Who out there is looking forward to more Lightning?