Friday, February 25, 2011

Demo Scene: Vol 1

Yet another 'series' post I'd like to start. Every so often I'll be giving you my two cents on demos I've played and give you a heads up as to whether or not I think they're worth the download. I will also try to play the game on each system it appears on as to give a better view on the game as a whole, rather than just one version of it.

This week's titles are:

Killzone 3 - Single Player Demo - PS3
Dragon Age 2 - PC (Steam), PS3, 360
Nail'd - PS3, 360
Fight Night Champion - PS3, 360
Bulletstorm - PS3, 360


Title - Killzone 3
System(s) looked at - PS3
Positives - Great visuals, spot on voice work, decent emotive pacing for cutscenes, lots of variety, title shows welcomed improvements to control fluidity - menu speed, loading and others over previous title, Jetpacks.
Negatives - Occasional screen tear or visual hiccups
Rating -9/10

A blast from start to finish, Killzone 3's demo of single player happenings is a rush. You get a few different scenes to play through, giving you freedom to try a variety of weapons including teaching you the new brutal Melee attack which is very satisfying. Also notable, you get to strap on a Jetpack and fly around, showing the Helghast who's boss - which feels like just the right amount of advantage tethered to a more reality focused version of how a Jet pack should preform. The controls are really tight and the responsiveness of the whole game seems to be a leg up over that in KZ2 (which was one of my few gripes with that title). The demo perfectly gives you a taste of what to expect in the final product and is very polished, I enjoyed it a lot.

Title - Dragon Age 2
System(s) looked at - PS3, 360, PC
Positives - Nice visual bump from previous game, controls very intuitive for console games, excellent voice acting, Bioware's signature character work, leaves you craving more
Negatives - Some loading (more noticeable on consoles vs PC), Change in action may put off some purists (again, console), a lot of inner-workings locked out for the demo, felt short
Rating -9/10

Another demo which I am totally satisfied with. Dragon Age 2 gives you a couple of scenes to play with, allowing you to get a feel for the controls, fighting, casting and dialogue tree. Right away, I noticed the way the game moved along, especially in action pieces, feels much more console focused when playing the game on the consoles. Unlike Dragon Age Origins where it felt like a controller re-mapping of the old tried n True PC click and go tactic, this game really lends itself to the machine it's on. That said, when you play the game on PC it feels much more like the old style we've grown to know (also seen in DAO) which makes total sense. I'm glad the team recognized that console gamers and PC gamers play differently.

The graphics have a nice new shine to them and from what I can tell, no frame rate issues or blurry textures to be seen on the consoles versions of the game. Sure the PC version looks sharper... but that's to be expected. Dialogue is handled on a wheel (sort of like Mass Effect) but doesn't support a "Good vs Evil" karma system like the aforementioned title, instead, you get icons on imply the kind of emotion behind a response - be it peaceful, sarcastic, mean etc which helps effect the relationships around you.

I knew the game was coming but wasn't currently really excited for it, this demo really impressed me and got me excited, which is exactly what a demo should do.

Title - Nail'd
System(s) looked at - PS3, 360
Positives - Decent sense of speed, Tight controls, music selection seems right for high octane racer
Negatives - Frame rate dips (on both systems), merely adequate visuals, grain effect takes away from visual pop, not much in terms of tricks, tracks laid out in confusing manner - leaves racers not knowing where to go, Pure - an older racer seems more polished.
Rating -6/10

While I wasn't looking for a new racer per se, I decided I'd give Nail'd it's fare shake and see what it was all about. From previous knowledge, I found out that Nail'd is pushing the idea of large jumps and insane vertigo as their selling points... and really, that's all there is.

Instantly I thought something wrong when I booted it up and saw how unappealing the visuals were. The 360 and PS3 share the exact same visuals - so it wasn't a 'broken port' scenario. The environments, while large in nature... seemed very blocky in terms of polygons and the whole game applied a weird grain filter that just made it look horrible. I'm reminded of Pure when playing this - which is over 2 years old now and is much crisper, clearer and overall a better looking game.

Visuals aside, the tracks are confusing and full of bugs. I rammed a train head on and it didn't slow me down, instead I went all the way through it and at the other side I fell through the map. Some trees I hit would knock me off my bike, others wouldn't even register as being there. Turns and jumps seem to lead no where and the game has a poor way of telling you where to go - you get lost often and end up just flooring it as far as you can go hoping you're doing well.

That said, at least the controls are tight and responsive. Your character can shift their weight around the bike with ease and the jumps really do look nice. Some of the tracks included for the soundtrack seemed spot on for a racer with such speed - which by the way pushes you along at a decent clip... but sometimes the frame rate dips noticeably as you fly along and meet with other racers.

Title - Fight Night Champion
System(s) looked at - PS3, 360
Positives - Continues trend of superb visuals, controls feel much easier over older titles, pick up and go fighting, decent sound work
Negatives - Stamina and slower pace may bore some, seemingly void of a soundtrack, only 2 fighters available
Rating -8/10

This demo is the kind that gives you just a tiny taste on the tip of your tongue. It does impress with what it has, but you feel like a lot more should of been packed in.

The visuals, as usual for the series look great as each fighter seems realistic, sweat and all. Punches connect well with bodies and each character reacts accordingly. The audio seems ample, but the music... well... I don't remember any :P You'd think there would be some - maybe I just need to listen again? But really, you don't rank a boxing game on it's music... you want the feel and ease of whooping some butt to count more toward the end result.

Thankfully, the controls are MUCH more streamlined and easy to understand over older titles. Last time we had a dual joystick operation where moves like uppercuts required you pull the stick straight down and then force it straight up or a side swipe requiring you swivel around the outside up to the top after slamming the joystick down first... which all worked... but wasn't very intuitive and actually caused problems for some people. This time around we've got a much simpler system that works on looking at the joystick as an 8-way device, with each of those 8 ways delivering a different punch. Straight up is a jab, uppercut a stright down, etc.

It really makes for a quicker game that takes less throught, allowing you to use more strategy. I actually skipped FNR4 partly because of it's controls and after this demo think I very may well get FNC.

Title - Bullet Storm
System(s) looked at - PS3, 360
Positives -Unique idea, the idea is described avidly, good showcase of what the game is about
Negatives -Tired 'unreal3 engine' characters, forced comedy is hit and miss (more miss), flipping people around to get unique kill counters gets old quick, over quickly.
Rating - 3/10

I swear, nearly every Unreal Engine 3 shooter around has the same dumb, muscle bound tards in it. That doesn't even begin to address my issues with this game demo. Much like Nail'd, Bulletstorm relies on one gimmick to stand out from others in it's genre.. and that gimmick get's tired quick.

As you may already know, the gimmick is combo-ing your kills to rack up more points. The more varied ways you kill people, the more points you get. Shoot them in partiular spots, kick them away from you, sling them into a wall of spikes, toss them over the edge, feed them to a mutant plant or do all of that in succession, it's your choice. The game even encourages you to keep trying different combos to keep getting a higher score for each level... but, at least in my case, I found once I blew through the given level I was instantly bored of the idea. I just wanted the brain dead A.I characters done with so I could continue... but no... I had to dream up repetitive ways to combo my killing together. Yawn.

The writing is dumb. It's that simple. The characters are meant to be funny, they curse a lot and more or less try to be like Duke Nukem... but fall horribly short. Each of them just comes off as developers trying to be funny and failing. The visuals are okay... but nothing worth mentioning. The controls work and the audio (aside from bad writing) doesn't seem flawed... but at the end of the day it's a boring idea that never feels fun.