Hello g33ks, m33ks and anyone else not within driving distance of the city that never sleeps. I just spent preview night at NY Comic Con taking in all the sights, sounds and yes, smells of NYC. Preview night has become something akin to an oasis at the convention. You get to walk the show floor, without the endless crush of people generally considered a staple of the event. People marveled at the amount of access to the things they were most looking to get to and how much fun they were having. We also all seemed to know that it was extremely temporary. From Friday onward it becomes a fight to find your space within a seemingly endless sea of humanity. Lines to try games, attend panels and speak with guests will become incredible time sinks. Is the craziness still worthwhile? I would say so, but I will also say that the con is probably reaching critical mass. I wouldn’t be surprised to see satellite events begin to pop up around the city at next year’s show. I would rather that not happen but I can understand the argument. So what did I do with my time on preview night? Aside from walking freely I spent a great amount of my time playing video games. Getting some serious hands on time with five upcoming games so I can give you all my impressions. So lets get started.
Its been a LONG time since there was a new game in the Hitman series. About 6 years since the Red Tie sporting Agent 47 took a man down, dragged his body into an alley and stole his clothes only to get closer to assassinating a horrible man. This launch has been met with some disdain as they previewed several of the games major action sequences and also showcased the anti-hero facing off against a series of scantily clad women dressed in a manner resembling nuns. So did 47 drop the stealth and become an action star? Does misogyny reign through out the game? The answer is maybe and no.
The mission on display took place in Chinatown, which is a lively bustling neighborhood a la Assassin’s Creed. Full of people going about their day cooking food, shopping, or hunting down the ‘King of Chinatown’. The demo walked me through the basics of playing as 47 and I have to admit I was a bit rusty. The ability to use Eagle Vision like powers to sense and track targets makes sense and keep the experience workable. Otherwise with so many NPCs it would be nearly impossible to distinguish where you’re going and who you’re targeting.
The option to stealthily kill your target is available as you can sneak up on a crooked cop, steal his uniform and walk into the target’s pagoda and kill him. Or as was showcased in the games E3 premiere you can launch into a full out assault on the pen and shoot the place up. I played through as stealth and as noisy and I can say that its definitely an option to go either way. As a fan of the other games I’d likely go through and play in the way the game was originally designed. That said it definitely feels like a slicker more updated Hitman. I only got a small section to play though so I’ll leave final impressions for when the full game comes out. That said if you were a fan of the series it feels good to me.
Anyone who listens to the podcast frequently knows that I’m a big Nintendo fanboy but not a giant 1st person shooter fan. That said one of the major games being pushed for the Wii-U is Zombi-U so I had to get a few minutes with the game. I’ll say this in a world with Left 4 Dead and Dead Island this game isn’t reinventing the wheel. It did showcase several uses for the Wii-U Gamepad and it also allowed me to use a Wii Pro pad as well. To knock out the basics this is a game that has some stuff going for it but its not going to sell you a Wii-U. It is however a game that will make purchasing a Wii-U more complete. Basically, not a system seller on its own but if you own a system you need games to play and this will probably be one of your better bets.
Zombi-U had its single player campaign and its multiplayer on display. The single player campaign is classic first person shooter, zombie killer goodness. Its a fun game to play, its bloody and its HD. The thing is lets be real you’re here to find out what the Gamepad is like. Well to me it felt good. The screen is sharp. I had no problem holding it for a significant amount of time. Its weighted very well and the grips felt good to me. I have larger hands than most though so it may vary for others but to me it felt like I could play for a while with it. The use of the screen on the pad as inventory but also to do things like aim special weapons works. I don’t know if hardcore FPS people will love it though. I think traditional FPS people would prefer hotkeys or to just use menus. That said it all seems to work fine.
The Multiplayer mode we saw was capture the flag. One player is a survivor the other is the human equivalent to the AI director in L4D. It means spawning zombies and attacking the player while also on your own attempting to capture three different flag locations. The survivor runs around the map with different weapons facing off against your zombies and as players earn points they can level up and get other powers for playing well. It was a lot of fun to be the zombie master. I won my session against the Survivor but the only issue is as much information as you can get from the Gamepad it took some getting used to. It works and it works well but its not natural. I do the work on the small screen and see the results on the tv. But I’m not in control of the TV because the Survivor is running around doing their own thing. That said it was fun, playing as the Survivor I only really got half a session in but I had captured a flag before stepping off. On the whole Zombi-U is a game. Its not underpowed or softened in any way. Its just a game. Either you’ll like it or not but its not because they didn’t create a legitimate video game.
The Wonderful 101
This was an interesting game. Again not a game I’d personally play normally but I had to try it because it was doing something I was not expecting. It was changing minds. People were deriding the Wii-U even while waiting on line to play it. They were crushing Nintendo and even rooting for the whole thing to fail so Nintendo would become a game publisher and have to make The Legend of Zelda for Playstation and Xbox. A lot of those people came away from playing Nintendo Land or Zombi-U unimpressed. The game that was making a push though was The Wonderful 101. Giant Robots are on the attack and a series of superheroes are the only ones that can stop them. You control this legion of heroes who are extremely tiny compared to the robots so, the must team up and use their powers together to take them down.
Pikmin with Superheroes is often how this game is described and that is accurate in both the good and bad ways that could be possible. I’m not a big Pikmin guy but the play style and the art of this game makes this particular game work for me. It was bright and colorful and very manga inspired. Combining Pikmin with Shadows of the Colossus actually seems to work pretty well and teaming up is key. Using the gamepad to command your units as they smash the weakpoints and destroy the defenses of the robots played well. It was a fun demo and I’d actually like to try the full game if given the chance. The fact that this thing made a guy who was in a fully NO position reconsider was interesting though.
I finally got my hands on Tomb Raider and for me this was a must play game. I have been knocking the idea that stripping the iconic Lara Croft down to a scared little girl is a difficult proposition. I’m not a fan of the voice acting, the new character model or the games tone. The gameplay seems tight and the graphics are gorgeous. The issue is that you are definitely treated to sights you don’t want to see. Aside from the issues I have with the attempted assault on Lara, the grunting, the lack of fun is what most stands out for me. Tomb Raider games were fun. They were silly, forget about your ammo, backflipping fun. This new game strips all of that away for a story detailing how Lara becomes this amazing adventurer. I see no way though how she could become the smirking super gymnast from this adventure though.
I understand that no one starts out as a superhero. That you get there over time. I even understand the idea of taking away the abilities until the player earns them. That said this is really a game featuring a scared young woman. She has training but needs to have someone talk her through things. Even if that person is sometimes herself. She is a survivor there’s no doubt but she doesn’t relish the opportunity. This isn’t the girl doing somersaults while killing dinosaurs with her twin pistols. The thing is that would be fine, but from the demo they displayed I don’t know how she ever gets there.
The demo they showed involved climbing, balance beams, minor puzzle solving and hunting deer. The controls for this demo were dead on. Lara doesn’t move like she used to but she is a capable hunter and climber if you pay attention. Even the trademark grunting was under wraps for most of this section. She does complain and again it works story wise but then it says to me. why is this a Tomb Raider game? Who is it going to appeal to? Fans of the original expect a certain amount of dexterity and self confidence in Lady Croft and instead we get an Uncharted game without the fun. Now this was only the first section but I doubt after the developments they’ve revealed that this game will suddenly grow a sense of humor. I think this game wants to fall into the same position with gamers as Naughty Dog’s do. I just think that while solid in gameplay it lacks things that would make me enjoy the experience.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Probably the highlight of my night. This was a ton of fun to play, it was fun to watch and I can’t wait for it to come out. Using the engine developed for the Mortal Kombat reboot and featuring superheroes and villains from the DCU, Injustice was getting over big time with the audience in the DC booth. The line was long but only because people hopped off to get back and play again. If you enjoyed Mortal Kombat there’s nothing else you need to know about this game.
Even though it isn’t finished, the 10 available fighters were fantastic. Highlights include details like Nightwing using his cycle in super attacks and Wonder Woman switching from the lasso to her sword and shield in fights. The environments being part of the gameplay was fantastic. Watching a super strong character launch a vehicle at an opponent while a tech savvy fighter used bombs to blow them up was cool. The X-ray equivalents were brutal, but in a comic book way and it was just a lot of fun. It was over the top but not in the same way Marvel vs Capcom is, and it was comparable to MK but definitely its own game as well. I can’t wait for this thing to come out. Finally, playing as DCU characters in a good fighting game is a possibility and I’m looking forward to it.
So those are my highlights of Day 1. I also took my time studying the upcoming DC Collectibles as well as a few other toys I saw on the floor. I’ll take my time and get more pics as I go throughout the weekend and do a special collectible post when I’m done. Thanks for reading and keep watching the skies.
– Mr. Khon