Monday, April 29, 2013

Third Rate Game Play: Pirates Plund-Arrr!

Game: Pirates Plund-Arrr

System: Wii

Developer: BoomZap Entertainment

Publisher: Majesco

Players: Alex and Tony

Experience: Tony played briefly beforehand

Check out the article after the jump!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PAX East 2013: The Miscellaneous Montage and Post-Mortem

Well, it is the end of our PAX East 2013 coverage, if the lack of updates did not tell you enough.  We had a lot of fun and a hefty three weeks of work producing content for you from the showfloor and then some.  On that note, let us first post the Miscellaneous Montage, showing footage from the showfloor that we wanted to share in some fashion but did not find it usable with a single post.

Games/Areas included in this montage:
Shovel Knight
Two Brothers
Double Fine and Capy Booth
Awesome Cosplay
Battleblock Theater
Gears of War: Judgement
The Last of Us
Dead Island: Riptide
Remember Me
Nvidia Sheild
The HAWKEN Booth
Dive Kick
The PC Freeplay Area
The Tabletop Gaming Area

And with that, we move to the Post-Mortem...

Here you will find our commentary about the games we played, the panels we attended, the travel and accommodations we had while we were there.  We would have talked longer, but we tried to keep it at least somewhat close to last year's post-mortem.  On that note, we had a great time, and we hope we can top this year in 2014!  Of course, we still have a year to go, so we'll settle with focusing on our normal content and E3 once we get to the end of May.  Feel free to let us know how you felt about our coverage this year!

And with that, we will see you all soon!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

PAX East 2013: LocoCycle

Twisted Pixel attended PAX East once again, this year, and this time, it demonstrated its newest upcoming title for Xbox Live Arcade, LocoCycle.  We got to grab footage from one of these romps through the Canyon stage, and you can see that splendor above.

LocoCycle has players assume control of the sentient, super-powered motorcycle weapon I.R.I.S. which, after being struck by lightning, decides to no longer be a weapon.  With the unwilling help of her mechanic Pablo, she rushes off into the desert, and it is there that her creator Big Arms decides to put an end to her existence, much to Pablo's chagrin on the whole matter.  Over time, she will face off against multiple operatives from Big Arms and eventually the dark motorbike S.P.I.K.E. to impede her escape.

From the gameplay demo we saw, the game primarily plays like Spy Hunter, as players drive I.R.I.S. swiftly through the landscape.  On occasion, players will have to shoot down the oncoming opposition, and if shooting them does not work, I.R.I.S. can leap up into the air and beat up the enemies with melee attacks, including the use of Pablo as a bludgeon or boomerang.  Furthermore, there are times in the missions where QTEs dictate the action within the sequence.  All the while, the game ranks your performance with each section, like a true action game. Not to mention that the game is filled to the brim with Twisted Pixel's patented humor.  Looks to be quite an intense and equally hilarious game when it finally releases.

LocoCycle will be released for Xbox Live Arcade in the coming months.

PAX East 2013: The Swapper




Amid the multitude of games in the Indie Megabooth, we came across Facepalm Games' puzzle adventure title The Swapper.  A PAX 10 recipient, the game has already received quite a bit of pedigree from its peers, and it looked to be in top form at PAX East, as well.  We got to speak with Olli Harjola, the man behind most of Facepalm Games, and Narrative Designer Tom Jubert to learn more about the game and the mystery that surrounds it.

In The Swapper, you enter a seemingly derelict space station which houses a unique piece of machinery called the Swapper.  The Swapper allows its user to create a complete clone of its user within range of its rays, and people can even swap between the clone and its creator with relative ease.  The space station is quiet and ominous, and so you are tasked to venture through its corridors and discover more about the station, the Swapper, and the many people and events surrounding both.

Upon close inspection, you might notice that the graphics look exceedingly realistic, and that is because everything is real.  The models and backgrounds are all created from clay models and everyday materials in order to detail the world, and the atmospheric lighting casts realistically among the imported objects.  It is this artstyle that helps lend The Swapper a unique and highly-detailed feel, one that makes the mysterious locations all the more real and yet so unreal.  The quiet landscape and ambient soundtrack cement the game's style and keeps you aware of the abandoned station and the situation you have entered.

The game is very much a puzzle adventure with an open-world twist.  In the demo, most of what I did was in a linear pathway, but Harjola told me that the game would be more open so as to allow people to move around the station at their own pace and not end up at a dead end in the adventure.  As you progress, you obtain more upgrades to the Swapper, allowing you to transfer yourself between your clones.  You will need to manipulate your clones' positions in order to move switches, land on platforms and buttons, or take the brunt of a lethal collision.  However, there are times when there are lights which prevent clone creation or even the ability to swap with clones.  This is when the game's puzzles really start to get involved.  Throughout the adventure, you may also find a collection of logs that present the story to you through the station's occupants, but from our interview, we found more explicit storytelling will also take part in the midst of the game.

The Swapper was a fun and atmospheric experience that I am enthusiastic to see reach its release.  It is expected to come out on Steam in the coming months.

Friday, April 12, 2013

PAX East 2013: Tengami (Nyamyam)




In the midst of all the insanity of PAX East's Indie Megabooth, we caught sight of a much calmer but equally enticing title on the floor: Nyamyam's Tengami.  We got to speak with Jennifer Schneidereit about the game and developing as a smaller developer.  We also have some footage of the game from the showfloor for those curious about the gameplay.

Tengami is a stylistic adventure in the world of a pop-up book.  You take control of a Japanese warrior who comes to life with the power of a cherry blossom, and from there you venture through the wilderness to learn more about the world and the mysterious happenings around you.  Nyamyam made sure to display the story in a more subtle way, fitting to the more casual, relaxed experience of the game.  As relaxed as the music and game might feel, the artstyle is striking and bold, designed in a mix of papercraft and Japanese traditional artwork.

Players do not control the character directly but instead select the point for him to approach.  Throughout the world, certain items or the side of the world will glow faintly, hinting that movement with them is possible.  By grabbing those glowing parts and pulling over the screen, the object reacts as though you are manipulating a real pop-up book.  In the demo, I encountered a few short puzzles involving a broken bridge or a fallen staircase, and all it took was a flick of the finger to pull things back into place.  There were times, however, where things were not as simple as a single pull across the screen.  In one instance, a wolf continued to undo my handy work, so I had to find a way to get it to fall asleep with its pack in order to venture quietly around it.  World manipulation and item collection were key to solving puzzles, and all the while, the game maintained its pop-up style consistently.

I really took to the game's slower pace, as it greatly contrasted with some of the other games I had experienced at PAX.  If the game keeps the pace throughout its adventure, I think this game will definitely fit into a more casual, chilled yet rewarding experience on mobile devices, as well as other platforms, too.

Tengami releases on the iOS App Store this Summer, followed by PC and Mac releases later this year.  A Wii U version is planned afterward at this time.

PAX East 2013: High Strangeness

In the midst of the Indie Megabooth, you may have noticed a game which appeared to be an 8-bit style adventure and then suddenly upon re-inspection be an 16-bit action adventure.  Do not be alarmed, as that is all part of the same game, Barnyard Intelligence Games' High Strangeness.  I got to speak with founder Ben Shostak about the game and its influences.

In High Strangeness, you play as Boyd who awakes to find his house infiltrated by dark beings called Shadow Men.  In his adventure to stop the evil behind the Shadow Men, Boyd finds a Crimson Skull which allows him the ability to change between dimensions, which are depicted as 8-bit and 16-bit graphics.  The 8-bit version of the world is more simplistic, making pathways through more complex areas and forcing Boyd into 4-direction movement.  Meanwhile, the 16-bit world gives Boyd complete movement and more combo attacks as well as other additions that can allow him better traversal through certain obstacles.

The demo did not elaborate a whole lot about the game outside of a small area at the start of the game, but the music sounds stellar with Disasterpiece and then some working on the soundtrack, that is for sure.  High Strangeness is prepped for release this year on PC and Mac with others pending.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PAX East 2013: Boot Hill Heroes


Not too far off the beaten path from the main walkways of PAX East, right near the PAX Merchandise booth, we caught a glimpse of a rather unique RPG.  What we found was the Western-themed indie RPG Boot Hill Heroes, developed by Experimental Gamer.  While we did not interview the developer, we did get some gameplay footage for you to see here.

Boot Hill Heroes takes place in Bronco County which is on the brink of chaos.  An attack by the Chepakwik Indians stirs up activity to the land, but the game's hero, Kid, knows the truth.  In the end, it is up to him and his three companions to bring a stop to the Saints-Little gang and save Bronco County.  However, as they go about saving the land, they might discover something even darker behind the scenes.

The game appears to follow the design of Earthbound, although Experimental Gamer states that it also takes some details from Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger.  In my time playing the demo, though, I felt it was almost entirely Earthbound-focused.  Perhaps further in the game those influences will be more effectively seen.  Regardless, the game played very similarly to Earthbound in my experience, although it has little additions that make it fit the Western aesthetic more effectively.  For example, in battles the enemies appear as though they are cutouts and react as though you are shooting them like targets in a shooting range.  These small effects really help establish the theme onto a familiar retro RPG system.

As a note, what might not be immediately noticeable is that the game supports four player cooperative play.  Players can drop-in and drop-out from playing particular characters, and they can also independently change their inventory and use items in the game. I did not get to try this out at the demo, but I think it is a neat addition, to be sure.

Boot Hill Heroes is expected for release this year for PC and Xbox Live Indie Games.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

PAX East 2013: Sully: A Very Serious RPG (Breadbrothers Games)

At Muteki Corporation's booth this PAX East, we caught sight of another developer in the midst.  We found that Muteki was sharing the booth with Breadbrothers Games, another independent developer working on an RPG itself: Sully: A Very Serious RPG.  We got to speak with Ben McGraw, the leading man behind Breadbrothers about the game and then some!

Sully: A Very Serious RPG is quite the opposite.  It is a humorous JRPG which apparently stars Darin, a young boy and his friend Crystal who are experiencing their last summer vacation together before they go off to college.  Of course, the vacation does not go entirely as planned, and an adventure begins!  Telling exactly what happens might ruin a bit of the surprise, so I will keep it secret from my end.  Either way, there are twists early enough that its unveiling surprised even me!

The game's demo did not offer too much in the way of battle mechanics, but it did give me a sense of the game's style.  Players control the hero around a large map, and encountering battles brings up a large sideways battle sequence, decorated with highly-detailed sprites which move smoothly on-screen. Unfortunately, the demo only let me see a couple battle sequences, which was a little disappointing.  Of course, the animations that were complete looked pretty good, and so I suspect when the game is more complete the battle sequences will look great.

One thing I would like to bring up is who Sully is.  Sully is a talking clam with an attitude, and before things get crazy, note that talking sea creatures are not something to be freaked out about in this world.  Instead, players can "equip" a particular sea creature (such as Sancho the Sad Octopus) which can boost their stats or provide them with magic abilities.  In the game world, you will encounter a multitude of talking sea critters, and some will help and others will hinder your progress (although in the case of the whale, I doubt it was exactly HIS fault he got stuck on a sea-bank in the first place).

Sully is currently slated for PC, Linux, and Mac computer systems as well as PlayStation Mobile later this Summer.  You can preorder the game for five dollars off at the official website here.

PAX East 2013: Dragon Fantasy Book I and II (Muteki Corp.)


Book I PSVita Gameplay:

Book II Gameplay:

It has been a year since we last spoke with Muteki Corporation's head Adam Rippon about his upcoming RPG Dragon Fantasy Book II, and what a year it has been!  We got to speak with him about the game, its unique contents, and the process of bringing it onto Sony platforms.  You can see that in the interview above.

Dragon Fantasy is a series starring the previously-retired hero Ogden who is pulled out of retirement to help save the world once more.  Book I told the beginning of the story through a collection of three chapters (and one bonus chapter exclusive to other platforms), while the upcoming Book II will be played as a complete adventure, although Rippon noted it would be effectively chapters four through six (and a touch of seven).

Book I was originally released on mobile devices, PC, and Mac, but now it is being released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.  The game's 8-bit graphics and soundtrack have been completely reworked to fit a new remastered 16-bit style, but players can swap between the styles at any time.  The game's status system has been reworked, and the PSN edition will also have a new dungeon added in, as well.  From playing the demo, I found the ability to change styles on-the-fly to be quite nifty, and other than that the game played like a pretty standard RPG of the age it reflected.  Of course, it was a short playthrough, but it still particularly reminded me of the older generation RPGs of yore.

Meanwhile, Book II will be a PlayStation Network exclusive, releasing for both PS3 and PSVita.  By this point in the series, the heroes are being pursued by the Imperial Armada and in the southlands quickly find themselves split up into three groups.  These three groups end up venturing throughout the land and discovering the mysteries of the war between the Kingdom of Tundaria and the Empire of Sandheim.  Will all our burning questions be answered? Potentially.

Book II will still follow the same humor and storytelling style of its predecessor, but the gameplay has been greatly changed.  The battle system of old has been replaced with a more real-time-based battle system akin to Chrono Trigger.  While a battle rages on, enemies wandering the world can join in the fray to join their comrades, and the same can be said for the game's heroes, especially using the game's multiplayer capabilities.  On top of that, the game now features ship battles, in which players must battle other ships by using whatever they can find (or knock out) on the ship's deck.  While I did not get to play the ship battle, I did get to play a little bit of the more traditional segments.  The battles seemed quite active, as characters would bounce and move within the battle zone, although I am not sure if it had any effect to their abilities in-battle.  Graphically, it looked sharp for an indie retro RPG, and I anticipate seeing more soon.

Both PSN games will have cross-save features, allowing people to transfer saves between the Vita and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, and there is also a You Only Pay Once deal for the games, as well (buy one, get the other free).

Dragon Fantasy Book I will be on PSN April 16th, and Book II will be available in the summer of this year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

PAX East 2013: Super TIME Force


Capy and Double Fine shared a booth at this year's PAX East, and Capy's contribution was its action shooter time explosion experience that is better known properly as Super TIME Force.  I got to see it at last year's PAX East, but this year I finally got my hands on a controller and play the game with the help of Tech Director Kenneth Yeung.  You can see that playthrough in the video above.

Super TIME Force is an action arcade shooter akin to Contra and Metal Slug.  However, not only is there a large variety between each of the members of Super TIME Force, but dying is but a slight obstacle toward victory.  When a character dies, the game pauses and starts to rewind, allowing players to choose a point on which to respawn and either use the same character or choose from the team anew.  There are still limited lives, however, not to mention a very limited timeframe in which to complete each mission.  If you save a replayed life that is about to die, you regain the life you would have lost.  To help the limited time, the levels are full of hidden Clox which can add time to the total mission limit.  Not only will you find improvements for time, however, but you can also find other warriors to assist in your missions part-way through.

The game is intense, make no mistake.  The graphics may be low-res sprites, but they are heavily animated and move swiftly through the stage.  The game's explosions and graphical effects make the action that much more extreme, and that can occasionally catch you off guard when you are busy seeing spited graphics the way Capy has made the game.  Unfortunately I cannot speak for the music as I was in a loud booth without headphones when I played the demo, but I can only imagine how much more intense the experience would have been with that audible sensation throughout.

It is not an easy game, however, as even touching an enemy can result in instant death, and the need to slow the game down each time a character dies could become a little old in the long-run, though that is just my assumption from the demo.  The game felt very fast-paced and, as an action shooter, it was an exhilarating experience.  While it was a phrase coined by the game itself, I think the term kookabunga matches the experience I had pretty well.

Super TIME Force is expected to release later this year as an XBLA exclusive.

PAX East 2013: Dropchord


This year, both Double Fine and Capy shared a booth at PAX East, and Double Fine's contribution was Dropchord, a music game which requires two fingers and a pair of ears to let in the hardcore techno beats.  We got to play the game and talk with Programmer and Project Lead Patrick Hackett about the title and how music game development has differed from previous projects.

Dropchord is a music arcade title in which you use two outstretched fingers to control the ends of a line which cuts into a circle in the center of the screen.  Moving a finger shifts the line, and eventually, abilities are unlocked to manipulate the line in more unique ways such as a quick spin.  Using the line, you must make contact with nodes that are placed inside the circle, but over time you must also avoid certain nodes which can do harm to you and the score.  All the while, a heavy techno beat pounds in time with the multitude of graphical effects present in the game.

The game uses a specific controller called the Leap Motion controller.  This controller consists of cameras which capture anything that enters their view, including in this case, fingers.  It took a brief moment to get used to having absolutely no direct input, but once the game really started flowing, movement became much more easily understood.  The music was truly fitting to the style of the game, and playing with just my fingers felt pretty great.  Of course, being a demo, it was probably one of the easier songs in the final game, but I really enjoyed what I experienced from the game.

Perhaps my only major concern with the game's design is how they can keep it fresh, but I am pretty confident they will have some more surprises in mind when the game finally comes out.  Also, the actual name selection screen was a pain to control in contrast to the game itself.  Hopefully they get that fixed for the final game.

Dropchord releases in May alongside the launch of the Leap Motion controller.

PAX East 2013: Tearaway

While Sony was present at PAX East this year with a collection of The Last of Us booths, what was more interesting was the booth off to the side of the showfloor completely covered in construction paper and papercrafts.  No, this booth was not a misplaced crafting booth in a gaming convention; this was the booth for Media Molecule's Tearaway.  We got to speak with Community Manager James Spafford about the game, and you can see what he has to say in the video above.

Tearaway is a PlayStation Vita adventure game where you help messengers deliver messages to a very special recipient: you!  In order to reach you, however, they have to travel through thick forests and treacherous lands made of paper.  Thankfully, you can assist with more than mere control; you can physically press up into the world with your fingers and even tilt the world to send enemies flying every which way.  Interaction with the PlayStation Vita is key in this adventure.

Whereas level creation was a big factor in LittleBigPlanet, creation takes a different role in Tearaway.  As players go through the game, they will encounter beings in need of colors or designs, and with the PSVita's camera, players can take pictures to cover the beings and help.  Also, as the game progresses, papercraft plans will be made available to players to physically print and create, acting like small trophies for completing specific goals in the game.

Tearaway is slated for release sometime this Fall, exclusively for PlayStation Vita.

PAX East 2013: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

Some of you may remember an indie title involving a young boy named Max and a magic marker.  Well, he is back, but this time, developer Press Play is making it exclusive to Xbox Live Arcade in: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.

In The Curse of Brotherhood, Max comes home one day to find his little brother, Felix, playing with HIS stuff in HIS room. Frustrated, Max looks online to find a way to get rid of his brother and finds a strange poem on a website. After reading it aloud, a vortex opens, and a large claw reaches into the room, grabs Felix, and pulls him into the void. Without hesitation, Max leaps after his brother and begins his journey to save him from a world filled with evil. Luckily, Max has the power of a magical marker which can manipulate the world around him. With the mystical marker, will he be able to save his brother from before its too late?

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood plays like a 2D platformer with 3D graphics and physics. While Max can jump and climb, those actions will not be enough to avoid deadly spikes and raging monsters. Using the power of the magic marker, Max can change the environment in multiple ways such as creating vines to swing on or jets of water to push Max forward. At one point in the demo, Max used the marker to manipulate the vines, join them together making it one large vine, and then cut it so the player could swing Max over a wide chasm. Another part had Max raising up the ground with the marker so he could create more vines that would help him avoid a spike trap. Obviously manipulating the environment is the major focus of the game as well as running form massive monsters sent to squish the young boy. 

With a variety of environments and creative manipulation puzzles, Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood is an Xbox Live Arcade title that people should keep an eye out for. Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood is due sometime in Q2 2013.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

PAX East 2013: DuckTales Remastered

Perhaps the biggest surprise coming into PAX East 2013 was the announcement of DuckTales Remastered, a full graphical remake of the original NES classic DuckTales.  Developed by the famed Wayfoward Technologies and published by Capcom, this adventure is expected to bring back the old school gameplay that the game was known for while also providing a greatly improved presentation.

DuckTales Remastered is a full remake of the original NES title developed by Capcom.  Of course, the game has plenty of additional elements to it that is expected of games this generation.  The world environments have been fully modeled in 3D, and the sprites themselves have become fully cel-animated, a style that fits Wayforward's pedigree (see A Boy and His Blob, BloodRayne: Betrayal, and Mighty Switch Force for examples on their sprite animations).  Furthermore, the game features additional story elements to better explain the situations in the full game, and the audio has been completely redone, complete with the original voicecast of the series!

Unfortunately, we did not get to play the game at the showfloor, thanks to the continually capped line to the game, but we did get some footage for us all to enjoy.

DuckTales Remastered is expected to release this year for XBLA, PSN, Wii U eShop, and possibly PC.

PAX East 2013: Lost Planet 3


Among the playable games at Capcom’s PAX East booth was Lost Planet 3 for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Having never played the first games in the series, I decided to try it out. My playtime was limited so I was unable to experience the entire demo, leaving out certain mechanics such as Mech battles against larger monsters. My experience was limited to a third person segment of me traveling though an abandoned laboratory of some sort.

The game takes place before the events of the first Lost Planet game on the still frozen planet, E.D.N. III. Our main character, Jim Peyton is sent to the planet by the corporation NEVEC in order to mine resources for the Earth by using a massive mining mech. As he continues his mining, he finds pockets of heat energy that melts away the snow and begins to uncover details about NEVEC and the ferocious monsters that live on the planet. During my playthough, the game would occasionally cut from the action to a cutscene where Jim is recording a video to his wife, explaining his job and the wonders he sees. It is an interesting way to describe the game’s background and to create contrast in Jim's character, from being cheerful on the video to becoming worried and violent when moving the frozen landscape.

The part I played in the demo felt what could have been the game’s first mission, as the main character seemed surprised by various events taking place. After melting one area, he found a facility beneath the ice and snow, questioning why it was there. Entering the dark, frozen complex, my immediate thought was how much it reminded me of Dead Space 3. The persistent darkness, mounting numbers of dead bodies, and ominous noises from the air vents were all things I had seen Dead Space do before. At one point, I had to force open a door that I knew it would lead to a monster attack. Sure enough, after pressing the X button to force open the door, an insect jumped on top of me. Once the bug had jumped on me, the game prompted me to press the X button rapidly. But after that, two reticules appeared on screen, which I assumed had to be aligned. After three tries ending in failure, I learned I had to press the right trigger once they had been matched up. This bothered me, as there was plenty of button prompts everywhere else in the demo but here.

After that event, I was able to move about a large generator room where I got a good look at the game’s emphasis on lighting. A large glowing mechanism lit up the room while large panels rotated around it, creating moments of darkness. If there was one thing Lost Planet 3’s demo did well, it was the lighting. Shortly after entering the room, I was attacked by more alien insects. Much like in other third-person shooters, I had to aim my shotgun toward them as they approached. However, I quickly found that to be rather difficult as the camera moved in too close to Jim, making it hard for me to see the targets, not to mention that the aiming sensitivity was too high, causing me to often over-shoot the monsters. While sensitivity might be customizable, I am not sure about the camera work, which made fighting the smaller monsters challenging. Another thing I noticed was the lack of any run button. I tried a variety of buttons and could not find the sprint button. In a game with monsters, running is important as I tried to keep my distance form them. It is possible that my trouble with controls could have been fixed with customization or by simply playing the game more.

My time with the demo ended with me turning off the generator to get through a locked door. In order to turn it off, I had to hold the X button down for several seconds as the generator slowed down. I felt this was a foreshadowing of events later in the game where Jim might have to turn something on or off while hoards of monsters try to stop him. As expected, once the generator was turned off, a bunch of insects entered the facility prompting another battle but this time with much less lighting. It was here that my playtime ended.

Lost Planet 3 may take place before the first game in the series, but my experience made me feel closer to what I had seen of Dead Space 3 more than the Lost Planet series. While I hear there are other additions as wel' as mech battles, I sadly did not get a chance to play them so my impressions are limited. The close aiming camera, lack of running, and the promptless quick-time events were my biggest frustrations of the game, while its lighting and environment were definitely its strengths. I hope the other portions of the game outweigh the parts I had trouble with, or else this game will have trouble standing out from other games using the same style of aesthetic. Keep an eye out for more of this game when it comes out for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC in June.

PAX East 2013: Resident Evil Revelations: Unveiled Edition


Over a year ago, Capcom released Resident Evil: Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS. It was given praise for its survival horror gameplay mixed with occasional action sequences while still maintaining a very Resident Evil feel. Now Capcom is bringing this title to the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii U as Resident Evil Revelations: Unveiled Edition. The new edition totes HD graphics, new playable characters, and a new Intense difficulty mode which adds new monsters to change things up. At Capcom’s PAX East 2013 booth, the Xbox 360 version of the game was playable, so I gave it a try.

Taking place before the events of Resident Evil 5, the game primarily stars lJill Valentine with her partner Parker Luciani. The two are on a mission to explore the abandoned SS Queen Zenobia to look for Chris Redfield who went missing while investigating the possible return of Veltro, a terrorist organization which used the T-Abyss virus to create B.O.W.s a year before. As you would expect, the ship is crawling with these monstrosities, and in usual Resident Evil fashion, there are also a number of plot-twists to keep things unexpected. Having played the 3DS version, I am curious to see if they added any new plotline twists in this release.

In the demo, I got to see a portion of the main story as well as the first mission in Raid Mode. Gameplay wise, Resident Evil Revelations: Unveiled Edition played nearly identical to its 3DS counter part when using the Circle Pad Pro. The left stick moves the character while the right stick controls the camera, which helped me survey my surroundings, searching for various monsters. In order to shoot your weapon, you must enter an aiming mode by pressing the left trigger and then shoot with the right. Like with the 3DS version, this mode could be set in first-person or over-the-shoulder as in Resident Evil 4. Overall, the controls were responsive and mapped well to the Xbox 360 controller. Sadly, there wasn’t a Wii U version to play to see what functions its touch screen would add besides a map.

Obviously, some major changes were the updated graphics for high definition displays. While the original was good-looking for a handheld title, this version had more detail in the character models, better textures, and improved lighting. The character models now appear closer to how they look in cutscenes. The monsters are also improved, appearing wetter and slimier than ever. These creatures also had more imperfections added such as gaps in the flesh or protruding bone structures though the skin. The game’s textures were crisper and had more detail with rust and drippings. While everything looked better in general, it definitely did not look like it was made from the ground up like the previous console ventures. Instead, it looked as though Capcom took what was already in the original game, cleaned it up, and made it higher resolution. Given that the first game was good looking already, being cleaned up does make it a good looking console experience, just not an amazing one.

The game’s musical score, sound effects, and voice acting all sound like they did back on the handheld version. The second I heard the theme playing on the menu screen, I was taken back to my time on the 3DS, huddled over and about to delve into another chapter. Finally, the game’s interface has also seen a slight facelift to fit the new HD television screen. Since there is no second screen, the Xbox version had the map, weapon ammo, health bar, and grenade count all on the screen along side the action. Being that all the other Resident Evil titles have been like this before, it did not feel too cluttered to play.

Resident Evil Revelations was a great title that played like the RE games of old based around survival horror. Now with Unveiled Edition, people will be able to fully experience this game on their big screens with added features. While it does not look as graphically powerful as other HD games by Capcom, it certainly isn’t an eyesore either. Even though I already own the 3DS version, I would be willing to try this game on consoles for its improvements and extra content. Look forward for a true Resident Evil experience when it comes to all consoles this May.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

PAX East 2013: Outlast (Red Barrels)


In the Indie Megabooth, there were not too many scary games, but perhaps the scariest game in all of PAX East stood in the midst: Red Barrels' Outlast.  We got to speak with one of its creators about the game and then some after I played the game, and allow me to tell you firsthand: Outlast is scary.

In Outlast, you assume the role of independent journalist Miles Upshur who, at an inside tip, breaks into the long-abandoned Mount Massive Asylum, a mysterious building that originally housed the mentally ill and eventually became under the control of Murkoff Corporation.  Inside, Miles quickly learns that the Murkoff Corporation has done a lot more to the Asylum than just assume control, and he'll find out that there are plenty of others there who do not want him to leave.

Outlast is a first-person horror adventure in which you have only one major asset: a camera which can see through the darkness.  Through the camera, players can zoom in to view further in the distance.  However, over time the battery will drain away, requiring new batteries, which thankfully can be found around the asylum.  Reloading batteries is much akin to reloading a weapon, though, so be warned that it will take some time to get the camera back on when it finally goes out.  As a note of precaution, remember that the batteries need to be reloaded...had I not realized it when I did, I surely would have been left in the dark at the worst of times.

In the game's demo, I entered the asylum and scoured the gore-covered rooms, looking for clues.  What I found were bodies hanging from the ceiling and someone with a hellbent desire to kill me.  Throughout the slow crawl, I could hear occasional screams of agony and the low rumbling of twisted anger.  In more than one instance, the monster in the demo growled out a deep, "You pig," before attempting to rend my head from my body.  Over the course of the demo, I found myself running around the tight corridors, attempting to prevent his massive form from grabbing hold of me or taking off a chunk of my body.  While the game allowed many ways for me to hide, I found that running was equally acceptable for my time with the demo.  I suspect I will need to be hiding later on in the game and that I was very lucky in the demo.

I will be honest, the game's audio and graphical presentation was very fitting to the environment and kept me on edge through it all.  There were more than a couple times I jumped from my spot, especially one time when I opened a doorway and spotted a few moving bodies combined with an ominous growl.  Amid the slow and heavy ambient music, the impressive lighting only further accentuated the darkness and made progression through the demo difficult, but more from fear than anything.  If these first fifteen minutes are maintained in terms of aesthetic and gameplay mechanics, I think we are going to be in for a very scary and worthwhile experience!

Outlast comes out for Steam on PC later this Summer.