Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NYCC 2013: Strider

For four days, people came to the Javits Center in New York City to experience one of the largest conventions on the east coast: New York Comic Con 2013!  Fans of comics, movies, television shows, and toys came together to revel in their hobbies, and with them came video game companies to show off their wares for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.  We here at 3RM attended a few of those days, and we have impressions and video to provide from our experience!


This year, Capcom's New York Comic Con booth focused mostly on upcoming downloadable titles from the publisher, and the big game front-and-center was Double Helix's Strider, a re-imagining of the arcade original.  I will admit I have never played the Strider games before this, but I can say that what I played at Comic Con was a smooth and intriguing experience.

Strider is a side-scrolling action title in which players control Strider Hiryu, sent to Kazakh City in order to hunt down and defeat Grandmaster Meio.  Getting to Meio is problematic, however, as he has many followers and soldiers at his disposal.  Within mere moments of nearing the city, Strider is shot down from the sky, leaving him at the outskirts of the city, still hot on his mission.  The city is massive in scale and the enemies numerous and ferocious, but thankfully for Strider, he is only going to get stronger as he makes his way into the city to face Meio.

The new Strider game is set in the sprawling Kazakh City, allowing players to explore and gather power-ups and secrets at their own pace.  As players rush through the landscape, slashing enemies with the help of Strider's Cypher, the world's large map updates and spreads out, much akin to a Metroidvania title.  In fact, this game's camera and action sequences feel very much like Chair Entertainment's Metroidvania game Shadow Complex.  At the beginning of the game, Strider has plenty of basic attacks, but in order to progress past certain obstacles, the player has to find special powerups for him or Cypher hidden around the city.  For example, there are a number of grates that are too small to cut through, but with a found ability, Strider is able to slide-slash right through the grates and out the other end.  Paying attention to where these air ducts are located will also provide health upgrades and other helpful powerups in the midst of the adventure.  Even with this example, it is clear that backtracking will be a large element in the game.

Graphically, the game looked crisp.  The color in the world was somewhat muted by a monitor overlay, complete with scanlines, but this only seemed to enhance the style of the game rather than muddle it.  There is distinct bloom from the glowing lights around the complex, helping to emphasize the stark contrasts of the shadows across characters and locales throughout the game.  The animation and framerate seemed very smooth, a good sign for a demo of what is to come.  The gameplay was kept frantic and active, and loading was kept to a minimum throughout the excursion.  My only concern about the graphics is the environments; I hope we get to see more interesting worlds as we venture further into the city (although the introductory screen had a pleasant background to see, for sure).

Those worrying about difficulty will know that while it started easy, the game became increasingly complex and difficult as the demo progressed.  Strider would run through enemies, swiftly cutting the lesser minions in half with relative ease.  This would change once I encountered larger, stronger warriors; at one point I faced an enemy who attacked unfazed by my attacks and ended up dying because of it.  The boss at the end of the demo, a large dragon robot, was equally armored and made for a hectic showpiece in the game.  I feel that considering this is the early portion of the game, the difficulty and complexity in combat will only grow and keep in time with what fans are looking for from the arcade action franchise.  Whether it will exactly match the difficulty of the older games, however, will have to wait until it is released.

The gameplay mechanics were as smooth as the graphics, quick to the point and in constant motion. Platforming was also swift, trying to maintain the hectic speeds expected of an arcade action adventure.  Upon colliding with a ceiling or wall, Strider immediately grabs hold of it, allowing for great maneuverability in rooms or in floating platforms throughout the world.  There were a couple instances when I would grab hold of a platform when I did not want to do so, but I imagine I would get used to the wall-grabbing mechanic further into the final game.  On the offensive side, even though I started with a number of powerful attacks, new upgrades piled on very quickly early on.  This makes me wonder whether the game was going to give that many upgrades so early in the game, but it could also be indicative of how many abilities will be given over the course of the final game.

Strider was a fun experience and ran very smoothly.  I cannot say how it compares to the earlier Strider games exactly, but from an outsider, it felt like a solid experience to look out for. Strider is set for release in 2014 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC.

No comments:

Post a Comment