Puzzle games and Online games

Archive for July 2010

Those of you trying to keep up with new developments in the Bayonetta camp are likely to be in the same position we are namely: we have no idea what’s going on with the Devil May Cry-ish actioner. Not because we aren’t being told how it’s shaping up, not because the question of who is developing the game is up in the air, but because we’re watching the trailers when they’re released. And they’re confusing.

Nevertheless, a few details have sprung up in recent months; the game features Bayonetta’s father as a probable antagonist, the game isn’t being developed by Platinum for PS3 – it’s been framed out to Sega – and reports the game wasn’t running too well on Sony’s console, when compared to the 360, were pretty much rubbished at the Tokyo Game Show. We’ve also seen more gameplay elements, with a motorbike section and a battle op top of moving vehicles standing out the most.

While the Japanese will be able to enjoy Bayonetta and her lovely hair by the time you’re reading this. We don’t know if there will be any region specific extras thrown in, but there’s always a chance. For now, though, we are very hopeful Baynoetta will end up being a mental masterpiece.

Sod history: in Saboteur the Irish ended World War 2. Or rather, a single Irish chap working for the French Resistance, screwing up the Nazi’s efforts in Paris with a bag of weapons, a cheeky grin, and the worst Irish accent known to man.

Sean Devlin, the Saboteur, seems to defy classifications as a hero. From his nimble acrobatics – he can climb much of the environment, and leap over beams with ease – you may think he’s a free running action hero in the vein of Assassin’s Creed’s Alter. From his stealthiness you might surmise he prefers lurking in the shadow to kicking Nazis in the balls (wrong again), and from the game’s huge, open world you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a straight GTA clone. Saboteur offers an unusual, and effective, blend of genres.

Regardless of the pigeonhole, being Sean Devlin is plenty of fun. In our latest hands on session, we had to escape captivity of stealth killing Nazis, clambering up Old Persian buildings and shooting through swathes of goons. But it could have been different. Tire of stealth and you can quite happily get through most sections in open combat, thanks to a simple cover system and the ability to soak up a few hits.

It’s safe to say there are a great deal of twin-stick shooters on PSN, and it’s safe to say there’s also a gem involving brightly colored vector graphics on a simplified background, if you understand the geometry of what we’re saying. But that’s about where comparisons to Bizarre’s most addictive of downloadable shooters ends, as Gravity Crash has proven to us through an extended playtest, harking instead to classis Eighties titles like Asteroids, Exile and Defender.

With half an hour of starting we were managing to make our way through levels with a modicum of confidence and avoided crashing for a while. As long as the difficulty curve keeps on a curve and doesn’t hit a wall, it should be successful. We also had a brief play about with the editor, which enables you to create entire levels for use in the game – they can also be uploaded to share with the world. It’s a wonderful touch and one we hope to muck about with more in future. We’ll need to play through the game more thoroughly to judge with the token, but right now it’s looking like a nice addition to PSN. It’s different enough from everything else to be interesting, and it’s handled well enough to be fun – that’s all we can ask for. Except for a low cost

Gravity Crash sees players taking control of ship – either ‘classic’ control or in the now-more-familiar twin-stick style and carry out objectives in a variety of cavernous levels. Collecting gems, rescuing stranded allies and destroying targets and the usual objectives for a level, and players have to navigate each level while managing the effects of inertia, speed, thrust and gravity. We found this system hauntingly familiar, but at the same time confusing and annoying – until we adjusted, of course. It doesn’t take long to get used to the control system and it seems perfectly weighted in the build we played – when you crash, which you will, it never feels unfair.

When it comes to comic book games, fan service is essential, Ultimate Alliance 2 takes its plot from Marvel’s Civil War and Secret War storylines (good), but liberties have been taken with the plot that are bound to annoy the hardcore (bad). As with its predecessors, you guide a team of four heroes through labyrinth corridors, defeating waves of enemies. There’s a wealth of characters to pick from a team-mates can be swapped on the fly.

Your Al pals, while competent can make dodgy decisions. Thankfully there’s four player, drop-in, offline and online co-op. The upgrade system has been simplified this time around, resulting either a weaker RPG experience or pure brawler, depending on your viewpoint. Defecting foes now builds up your Fusion bat; when full, hit (L2) and a corresponding button to perform a double team Fusion attack. There’s a huge variety of Fusion to be performed, but these room-clearing moves are too easy to learn.

The camera is still that bit too far away, making it easy to lose focus on who’s who in larger brawls. This highlights the game’s main flaw – there are little tactics required in combat. Blindly mashing (X) or (0) will get you out of any trouble. Overall, it’s fun, if familiar, experience. It’s the ability to swap your team-mates around freely and the diversity of Fusion attacks that carry the most appeal.