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PlayStation 3 | JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is, well, bizarre E-mail
Written by Munk   

Cell-shaded beatings administered by catwalk male models on horses and machine-gunning fashion cowboys? Sounds like a video game manga adaptation from CyberConnect2 and Namco Bandai.

 

Developer CyberConnect2 have finally branched out of their Naruto fighting game-making comfort zone and opt for another IP. After throwing a dart on a board filled with anime and manga names, they somehow lucked out with the long-running JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series. At the very least, they have a frame of reference game-wise thanks to Capcom's past efforts. Still, this new 2D fighting entry subtitled All-Star Battle for the PS3 will amp it up with possible character variety and lovingly-rendered art direction if the recent TGS 2012 build is of any indication.

Right from the get-go, the demo wowed us with its color palette and stylized aesthetics that stayed true to the manga it's based on. Odd character poses and fighting stances, insanely-crafted wardrobes, sound effects of punches popping up comic-style; fans will love the work CyberConnect2 did.

Behind its flash is also fighting game substance. Each of the four selectable characters on the demo have their own particular methods of mayhem. Cowboy-lookalike Joseph Joestar has the mix up-heavy cracker volley attack where he spins two discs which can be followed up with a counter-attack pose, an additional combo attack, or an overhead. His zones include his cracker boomerang, which can return to him when holding down the attack button.

Recent protagonist and actual cowboy Gyro Zeppeli attacks with steel ball projectiles as well as ride on a horse that opens up vertical bumrush and knockdown moves. One of the manga's antagonists, Wamuu of the Pillarmen, uses bursts of wind in his anti-air attacks as well as performs a spinning overhead attack and delayed human torpedo move. He can also turn invisible for a short bit; while a silhoutte and wind trails remains, he can absorb hits in this form temporarily while also make opponents guess what moves he will launch. The recovery for the move is long though, so players should use this with care.

No JoJo title will be complete without the fan's favorite protagonist Jotaro Kujo; he fights with his Stand which he can bring up or dismiss with just pressing the R1. Though he has no projectiles, he makes it up with the mid-range reach of his Stand that has an anti-air, a sweep, and a knockdown rush punch that can be used as a combo-ender.

Each fighter has his own Heart Heat attack (the game's equivalent to SSFIV's super and Ultra combos); this can be activated with a down, down forward and forward motion followed by two attack buttons and requires just one Heart Heat gauge. A bigger version of that, a Great Heat Attack, requires two Heart Heat gauge and a press of the L1 button (or a down, down forward, and forward motion plus three attack buttons).

Each of these moves are different for each character and some even have follow-ups: Joseph Joestar whips out a machine gun in a super-cancelable attack, does a wall bounce push on his opponent and then juggles his opponent into oblivion. Jotaro Kujo's Heart Heat attack is just a glorified version of his Stand's rush punch attack where you can get more mileage out of it via button-mashing during the move. Gyro Zeppeli's Great Heat attack, while fancy, requires him to be on his horse.

To make itself stand out from the crowd, All-Star Battle allows fighters to sidestep attacks by pressing X. Some of your attacks can be cancelled by pressing the L2 button at the cost of your heart heat gauge. Furthermore, background objects can damage players depending on where they're standing. Halfway through the fight, we triggered a bunch of horses to run around in a run-down coliseum. If you're in the way, it will knock you down. Tell-tale signs of incoming objects are highlighted by manga panels that pop up in the middle of the screen. While we're fine with the first two evasive and attack cancel mechanics, we do hope that there's a way to turn off the third bit in serious matches because it may seem too disruptive for its own good.

It's hard to gauge whether All-Star Battle will be a fighting game considered for the tournament space, especially given that the game is still in its early stages. Nonetheless, fans of the manga and adventurous gamers can look forward to All Star Battle when it hits Japan shelves in 2013. A North American release seems likely, as Namco Bandai previously filed a trademark for "All-Star Battle" within the region.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"PlayStation 3 | JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is, well, bizarre" was posted by Jonathan Toyad on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 09:55:44 -0700
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3DS | Shin Megami Tensei IV keeps demon-summoning stylish on the 3DS E-mail
Written by Munk   

Odds of nostalgia can be seen in Atlus' next entry in the deity-conjuring title; we dissect the recent extended TGS 2012 trailer.

 

With so much Persona titles filling the span of a few years, we felt that it was time Atlus went back to their roots with the mothership Shin Megami Tensei series. Lo and behold it did, as the company showed off the latest extended trailer to Shin Megami Tensei IV detailing characters, gameplay and setting on the Tokyo Game Show 2012 show floor.

Players will be controlling a protagonist who is part of a futuristic samurai group from the country of East Mikado. In contrast to the dark and demon-ridden landscape of post-apocalyptic Tokyo (because some traditions need to stick in Megami Tensei titles), East Mikado is bright and is built like a medieval castle. Yes, we're feeling vibes of The Village here, but instead of outcasts who shun technology, these samurais brandish their stylish and slick gloves that allow them to conjure demons and rid Tokyo of its plague as well as act as a fancy GPS device.

Like in past games, players will have to pick between law and chaotic alignments to further the narrative and open up branching story paths (ala recent SMT title Strange Journey). Players traverse the annals of a ruined Tokyo in a third-person perspective in 3D ala Shin Megami Tensei 3, though combat will be strictly in a first-person perspective with 2D graphics representing your opponents. You still control a small team of demons to kill off other demons or convince them to join your side. Judging from the combat, the press turn combat system returns, though it's not yet determined if it will be exactly like SMT 3's structure where exploiting enemy weaknesses will make you use half a turn and even give you more turns for fighting.

Your samurai companions will mostly be aiding you verbally throughout the story, though if you played the series long enough, two of them will represent both the law and chaotic alignments. Given the way the samurai NPC talked and displayed themselves, we figured the spikey-haired Walter will be representing Chaos while the suave-looking Jonathan will be representing Law; all bets are off on this.

The most welcome change is that the game will not have random battles. Taking a page from spin-offs Persona 3 and 4, SMT IV's protagonist can hack his way through obstacles and initiate combat with on-screen encounters with his sword. While on the overworld, you will have a yellow ring surrounding your player; as long as enemies are within that circle, you will be pursued until they touch you to initiate combat.

Another change is a minimalistic HUD; the screen won't be littered with stats until you turn on your aforementioned gauntlet to display the map and your stats in a hologram (ala Dead Space). We have yet to figure out if the moon phase and daytime cycles will return, as that usually affects encounter behaviors and the appearances of rare demons in certain areas, but we'll have to wait until Atlus sheds more detail soon.

The series' famous monster-generating mechanic, the fusion technique, is back. Players can fuse up to four different demons to make even more powerful demons to aid you in your quest. While the process is done digitally via the samurai's gauntlet, the endless strategies and possibilities from the technique will definitely please hardcore fans of the series. The developers did state that new demons will be added, like a Power Rangers villain stand-in with detached limbs and protruding white bones that may look like a minor antagonist waiting to be recruited. Fan favorites like Beelzebub and White Rider will also be recruitable.

With a bit of background trappings from Shin Megami Tensei 2 and 3, along with a bit of shiny nuances like a medieval organization shunning technology and some overworld navigational tweaks, SMT IV aims to bring in both the old and new generation of RPG fans. We do hope that it still retains its difficulty curve that forces players to change up their demons and allies; that is perhaps the only constant that needs to remain to preserve the series' integrity. Given Atlus' stellar track record with their past RPGs, it may seem to know what it's doing.

The game will be out in Japan for the 3DS in 2013; while no North American date has been set so far, the series' popularity overseas makes an English localization seem likely.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"3DS | Shin Megami Tensei IV keeps demon-summoning stylish on the 3DS" was posted by Jonathan Toyad on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 07:28:25 -0700
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PC | Resident Evil 6 Picks Up the Pace in the Mercenaries Mode at TGS E-mail
Written by Munk   

The competitive social initiative in Resident Evil 6 just got a shot in the arm thanks to the Mercenaries Mode revealed at the Tokyo Game Show.

 

You can't have a modern Resident Evil game without a Mercenaries mode; the arcadey, run-and- gun race to take down as many foes as possible before time runs out. Capcom finally unveiled the Mercenaries component of Resident Evil 6 at the Tokyo Game Show, and it mirrors Resident Evil 5's version in almost every way. It's proven to be a worthwhile diversion from the standard story mode in the past, and now, with with the social-centric ResidentEvil.net, it's yet another way you can compete against your friends in the race to the top of the leaderboards.

Each round starts with a modest alotment of time, but play your cards right, and you can easily double or triple the length of a round. Killing enemies yields time-bonuses based on the method employed. Typical body-shots resulted in a 5 second bonus, but take out a foe with physical-force or head-stomp, and you'll double your reward. Time-crystals are handily strewn about each map as well, the locations of which are pre-determined, giving seasoned Mercenaries the upper hand when chasing the prestige of higher scores and the elusive "S" rank. The best players will be able to considerably extend their sessions, but fail to take advantage of every opportunity, and you'll only last a few minutes, at best. It was challenging to keep the clock running at first, but once we got accustomed to the location of crystals, and the pacing of the oncoming hordes, our scores quickly improved with each subsequent round.

Players are given the option to choose one of three characters: Leon, Chris, or, Jake. Each comes with their own selection of weapons and secondary support items that defines their relatively unique play-styles. Jake primarily uses hand-guns, the highlight being the “Elephant Killer“, which as you might assume, bulldozes through enemies in a single shot. Chris carries an assault rifle and a 9-mm pistol, but also has access to a combat-knife, should he run out of ammo. Lastly, Leon packs dual pistols, and a compact, pump-action shotgun. Compared to Resident Evil 5's mercenaries mode, which included ten playable character-builds, Resident Evil 6's three seems rather paltry, however it's highly likely we'll see more characters, or variations on the current linup, when the game is released.

There appear to be 6 maps available in all, however, only four were playable during the appoointment: "Urban Chaos", "Rail Yard", "High Seas Fortress", and, "The Catacombs". Each has their own assortment of enemies: Zombies in the Catacombs, Thugs in Urban Chaos and the Rail Yard, and lastly, Military Forces within the Fortress. Studying the maps is crucial to survival, as items, time-bonuses, and environmental eccentricities will, no doubt be the key to achieving a high-score.

In line with the main game, you can team up with friends locally or online, the former of which is accomplished via split screen. Communication will be the key to victory, presumably, as a misplaced explosive or shotgun blast might harm your teammate. Unfortunately, as this was a single-player setup, we were unable to test coop during the demo.

Overall, Resident Evil 6's Mercenaries mode will seem familiar to anyone accustomed to the one in Resident Evil 5. The integration of ResidentEvil.net's social features provides a new means of motivation, and potentially extends the games lifespan as a competitive multiplayer experience. There's no telling how, or if, ResidentEvil.net will take off, but Mercenaries, rather than the main game, stands a fair chance of enticing players into social competition when the game ships early next month.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"PC | Resident Evil 6 Picks Up the Pace in the Mercenaries Mode at TGS" was posted by Peter Brown on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 06:54:55 -0700
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PlayStation 3 | Lost Planet Spin-off E.X. Troopers Shines at the Tokyo Game Show E-mail
Written by Munk   

Bright colors and a light-hearted tone distinguishes E.X. Troopers from other Lost Planet games, Unfortunately, it may never ship out side of Japan.

 

After spending some quality time with the Lost Planet spinoff at Sony's booth, the PlayStation 3 version of E.X. Troopers, I can easily say it's the Lost Planet game I'm currently looking forward to the most. Sadly, due to the distinctly Japanese visual presentation, and the western-centric nature of Lost Planet 3, fans in the US may never get a chance to play E.X. Troopers, which if you ask me, is a damn shame.

At it's core, the gameplay is what we've come to expect from Lost Planet: third-person action focused on dispatching enemies (akrids) with vulnerable, orange, body-parts, in snowy environments. The anime inspired cel-shading immediately distinguishes E.X. Troopers from the rest of the series, going so far as rendering sound-effect-graphics, similar to those found in comics, or in this case, manga, during cutscenes.

The heavy use of vibrant hues is more typical of an episode of Naruto than a Lost Planet follow-up, which to be fair, may not sit well with fans of the first two games. It's likely that most people who aren't purveyors of Japanese animation might view the game's visual design as childish, but where Lost Planet 3 borders on gruff, E.X. Troopers shines like an adorable diamond in the frozen rough. You turn into an authentic, three-tiered snowman, when frozen, after all.

During the 15 minutes I spent with the game, the pacing of combat immediately stood out as brisk compared to the series' relatively-plodding pace. The main character has the ability to dash around the battlefield with his handy jet-pack. Firing your weapon mid-dash will prolong the character's momentum for a few seconds after the boosters disengage. It's a minor detail in the grand-scheme of the game, but it's different enough that it stands out as a defining element.

The main character is equipped with two modes of attack: a rapid-firing assault rifle and a heavy weapon, which can best be described as a charged ball of energy. Though ammo is technically unlimited, each weapon has a cool-down period after expending your allotted munitions. Typically, expending your light rounds and following up with a heavy shot was enough to eliminate common foes. Dashing to a new vantage point provides just enough time to recharge and continue dishing out a stream of bullets.

In all, anyone whose played the two previous Lost Planet games will no doubt see parallel elements in E.X. Troopers' gameplay, despite the minor differences. It's these minor alterations however that I found the most refreshing. The speed of combat and the bright visuals stand out, giving E.X. Troopers a light-hearted theme that, despite it's admittedly eastern aesthetic, has enough personality to elicit a smile from the most-hardened shooter fans among us. Capcom has registered a trademark for E.X Troopers in the west, so it's possible we may see the game outside of Japan, but if recent comments from Christian“Svensson are to be believed, there aren't any plans for a worldwide release at the moment.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"PlayStation 3 | Lost Planet Spin-off E.X. Troopers Shines at the Tokyo Game Show " was posted by Peter Brown on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 06:35:57 -0700
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PC | Lost Planet 3 may lack cowboys, but it still feels like a western E-mail
Written by Munk   

The surprising stylistic change in Capcom's latest sci-fi shooter.

 

Playing the new Lost Planet 3 demo here at Tokyo Game Show, there was something that struck me as particularly interesting about Capcom's latest sci-fi shooter. It's got nothing to do with how the game plays, its merits as a third-person shooter, or whether it can help rescue this once-promising franchise. All those are questions better answered by an experience lasting longer than 20 minutes. What grabbed me most about Lost Planet 3 is the overall tone and style of the game. I was surprised by just how much it feels like a western.

Sure, there have been plenty of sci-fi westerns before. Starhawk did that earlier this year, and you certainly can't forget about Firefly. But in Lost Planet 3, it's more about the feel of a western rather than the look of one. It's not boots and bandoliers; it's the sense that this group of people is living in a dangerous new place and experiencing the hazards and growing pains of inhabiting an environment that doesn't really want them there.

That feeling sets in fast. The TGS demo starts with the main character, Jim Peyton, delivering a monologue about how he passes the time on this strange alien world. He talks in a southern drawl about keeping his mind occupied, trying to avoid feeling too lonesome this far from home, and finding motivation in thinking about his wife. All the while a sort of twangy soundtrack plays in the background. I half-expected to see a tumbleweed blow by.

Then the action starts. Peyton, like the Lost Planet heroes before him, has to survive by shooting insect-like aliens in the orange glowy bits while traversing from one frozen cavern to another. At times he'll jump into a big robotic mech suit to squash these bugs more thoroughly than he would on foot, including the boss fight I played where I got to pick up a massive scorpion-looking monster and drill it right in the weak spot. It was basically like a Big Daddy doing pest control on a frozen planet.

In other words, it plays like a Lost Planet game. Perhaps a bit more methodical and less squirrelly thanks to the lack of a grappling hook this time around, but a Lost Planet game just the same. And I think that's why the western thing interests me so much. It's not impeding on the core of the series; it's a new stylistic layer wrapped around it.

It all feels very lawless and wild. This is, after all, a prequel to the original game that focuses on the early days of colonists living on E.D.N. III. You meet these characters that feel very on-edge and paranoid about the dangers and hazards they're learning to deal with, from the alien life forms to the frozen climate that seems to be wearing them down. Running into one of these characters in the demo, I almost had flashbacks to some of the crazy personalities I met back in Red Dead Redemption.

That's not to say that Lost Planet 3 will end up being as good of a game as Red Dead Redemption, of course. That's an incredibly high bar to clear. But there are stylistic similarities that grabbed me while I was playing, and that's something that impressed me. Going into the demo, I was expecting a story more in line with the campy sci-fi action fare of the previous games. What I got, though, was a game that's trying to maintain the core Lost Planet experience while adding in a very different--and very refreshing--sort of tone and feel. Hopefully the rest of the game winds up just as interesting as this little discovery.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"PC | Lost Planet 3 may lack cowboys, but it still feels like a western" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 01:44:44 -0700
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Mobile | Metal Gear Solid on the iPhone is kind of insane, kind of awesome E-mail
Written by Munk   

Straight from Tokyo, here's some gameplay and a few thoughts on MGS: Social Ops.

 

Yes, you read that right. Metal Gear Solid is coming to mobile devices in the form of Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops. Rather than a port of an existing Metal Gear Solid game, this iOS and Android title is a brand-new take on the series due to be published by Japanese social gaming giant GREE. Wondering what the game's about? Well, go ahead and take a look at some video we just shot here at Tokyo Game Show 2012.

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what this game is about. I say "hopefully" because I played the thing and I'm still completely mystified by its finer points. But then again, I don't speak a word of Japanese. Still, there were a few things that grabbed me about the game during my brief bit of hands-on time.

It may not look it, but this is very much a card game. Take a brief look at the footage, and Social Ops looks more or less like Peace Walker. But in the demo I played those bits of the game pretty much played themselves. You tap on a location to immediately move there, and tap on an enemy to immediately approach him. From what I can tell, the meat of the game is in collecting cards (all based on various MGS characters), tweaking your deck, and letting battles play out based on whose brought the superior deck of cards to the table.

It plays fast and loose with the MGS timeline. Clearly this game is a case of Kojima Productions looking to have a bit of fun with the overall timeline in the series. You'll notice in the video above that Peace Walker-era Snake is receiving instructions from MGS4-era Mei Ling, while the next level after the one I just played was the Big Shell facility from MGS2. It pretty much feels like a mash-up of characters and places from the entire series.

It's got a crazy sense of humor. Metal Gear Solid has always had a silly sense of humor buried under the layers of serious storytelling, but it looks like Social Ops is going to crank that up to 11. There's one scene in the demo where three or four guards all cram their way inside the same cardboard box, then the box starts shaking around for a bit and explodes into dust. Amazing.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Mobile | Metal Gear Solid on the iPhone is kind of insane, kind of awesome" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 00:00:00 -0700
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PC | A Vision of Insomniac's Future E-mail
Written by Munk   

Insomniac CEO Ted Price talks Fuse, escaping the ghost of the PlayStation 2, and the state of single-player-only games.

GameSpot: You said that moving in a more grounded direction from Overstrike to Fuse allowed you to make the weaponry more imaginative. Was that a situation where you wanted to draw a starker contrast between the characters and the weapons?

Ted Price: I think that's part of it. Making the weapons more exotic really helps set the game apart. Even though we're set in a grounded world, we're trying to make it very clear that this world, because of this alien substance fuse, and because of these crazy weapons, this story with organizations that you won't see in our own world, it stands apart from a lot of the games that are based on real events from today. We at Insomniac love doing the more fantastic, out-there sci-fi stories and scenarios. So by moving in this direction, it was sort of a nice mix of that grounded but out-there sci-fi approach that we love to take on all of our games.

That sort of exotic weaponry is very much a part of the studio DNA at this point, but in Ratchet and Resistance you were firing those weapons at aliens. In Fuse, the enemies are human beings. What's the balancing act like for you guys to make sure that the weapons are still wild and crazy but you're not creeping out the players?

Ha! I think it's OK to creep out the players. It's not that we're avoiding any kind of creep-out factor. We're doing what we think is most fun with hard-hitting weapons that do the unexpected. It's important to note, too, that the enemies we're fighting are humans, but you'll see some humans using fuse weaponry too.

So it's a level playing field? Both sides are using fuse?

Pretty much, yeah. That evolves as you move through the game. You don't immediately face enemies who are using fuse weapons. It's tied to the story. This organization, Raven, steals the source of fuse and begins using it in their own creations. Raven is a paramilitary organization and a weapons manufacturer. They've known about fuse, and they've prepared for it. That's why we see this increasing emphasis on fuse used by enemies the further you move into the game.

In terms of the game's personality, you mentioned that Fuse has a more mature sense of humor--not quite as slapstick as Ratchet. More subtle and dry. That's a lot trickier to do. It's hard to do that sense of humor and not have it go completely over the audience's head. Describe the challenge of that.

The challenge is doing just what you said, having a sense of humor that isn't campy but isn't so subtle that players miss it. And then integrating it into real-time gameplay so players hear emergent dialogue throughout the game that's relevant to what they're doing but also entertaining.

I think that [writer] TJ Fixman and [creative director] Brian Allgeier have worked really closely with all of our designers and gameplay programmers to figure out good places to expose more of our heroes' personalities through humor and through humorous interactions that are much more of a departure from the standard military jargon that we hear in other third-person shooters. We hope that it keeps it more entertaining while informing the players about backstory for each of these characters.

One of the things that Insomniac Games has always done really well, in my eyes, is atmosphere. Resistance 3 stands out as one of the best examples of the past few years. How do you maintain those same standards when you're bouncing around the world, going to all these locations, and you can't just do that one style really well?

One aspect of Resistance 3 was that we were traveling to different locations, and we focused on making sure that the story was well integrated into those locations. The same thing's happening here. There's a reason you're going to those various places that we gave a tease of today. It's all driven by fuse and your ultimate mission to bring it back. So making sure that the environments don't feel like window dressing is enabled by using fuse in those environments, helping to tell a visual story about fuse and how Raven is using it. How their use of it is evolving throughout the game.

It's important to make those living, breathing environments impact the players just as much as the combat and characters. I'm really proud of what the environment team has been doing, how they've adhered to the story and they're telling it in a way that doesn't require words.

You mentioned in your PAX keynote address the importance of knowing your audience and focusing on a specific part of the market. Is this a new market for you guys, or are these the people who've played Ratchet over the past 10 years and now their tastes have matured?

Both, I suppose. It works well for the people who grew up with Ratchet and love the crazy weapons but who are looking for a more grounded experience--but with a hint of that humor you don't find in many games. For the Resistance players, this is the kind of weapons-focused shooter that they love, but it introduces a multiplayer aspect--the four-player co-op with unique characters--that enhances that kind of gameplay and takes it further. It's a very Insomniac experience that our previous players will appreciate; it has a lot of hallmarks of who we are and how we design things.

After Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One being a co-op game, this being a co-op game, and Outernauts being a Facebook game, is Insomniac a multiplayer/social gaming company from here on out?

I can't imagine that any game we'd do from here on out will be single-player only. The game world has changed. As gamers, we've always been social, but thanks to the way technology has evolved, it's much easier for us to play together. It's much easier for developers to create experiences where you can play together. So we want to encourage that with all of our games. Ultimately, in my opinion, it's often more fun to play with a friend. However, with Fuse, we do focus heavily on the campaign and ensuring that if you're playing by yourself, you'll have just as much fun as you do with your friends. We spent a lot of time on our AI bots and making sure they're solid and they do what you expect them to do at the right times.

We understand that a large portion of players are interested in that single-player experience. A lot of us gamers are interested in both. I love single-player games, but I also love multiplayer games, and I think that Fuse offers you the opportunity to do both without having to skimp on either side.

You're debuting a new engine and new development tools with Fuse. The timing seems interesting to debut that new tech at the tail end of this console cycle. How equipped are you guys to deal with the next console cycle?

It's important to note that we've worked on this new tech for a while. It wasn't an overnight decision to start working on new tech now. It's been several years in the works, and it was the result of having a toolset and an engine that was a carryover from PlayStation 2.

When we built Resistance: Fall of Man, we were building it on the back of the tools approach we had used on PlayStation 2. We inherited a lot of baggage with that. Long load times and long build times in particular. Tools that didn't necessarily decrease iteration time. We had wanted to make the shift for quite a number of years. Going multiplatform was the big opportunity for us to do that. It didn't have anything to do with any new approaching consoles.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"PC | A Vision of Insomniac's Future" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 12 Sep 2012 06:45:17 -0700
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PlayStation 3 | A Vision of Insomniac's Future E-mail
Written by Munk   

Insomniac CEO Ted Price talks Fuse, escaping the ghost of the PlayStation 2, and the state of single-player-only games.

 

GameSpot: You said that moving in a more grounded direction from Overstrike to Fuse allowed you to make the weaponry more imaginative. Was that a situation where you wanted to draw a starker contrast between the characters and the weapons?

Ted Price: I think that's part of it. Making the weapons more exotic really helps set the game apart. Even though we're set in a grounded world, we're trying to make it very clear that this world, because of this alien substance fuse, and because of these crazy weapons, this story with organizations that you won't see in our own world, it stands apart from a lot of the games that are based on real events from today. We at Insomniac love doing the more fantastic, out-there sci-fi stories and scenarios. So by moving in this direction, it was sort of a nice mix of that grounded but out-there sci-fi approach that we love to take on all of our games.

That sort of exotic weaponry is very much a part of the studio DNA at this point, but in Ratchet and Resistance you were firing those weapons at aliens. In Fuse, the enemies are human beings. What's the balancing act like for you guys to make sure that the weapons are still wild and crazy but you're not creeping out the players?

Ha! I think it's OK to creep out the players. It's not that we're avoiding any kind of creep-out factor. We're doing what we think is most fun with hard-hitting weapons that do the unexpected. It's important to note, too, that the enemies we're fighting are humans, but you'll see some humans using fuse weaponry too.

So it's a level playing field? Both sides are using fuse?

Pretty much, yeah. That evolves as you move through the game. You don't immediately face enemies who are using fuse weapons. It's tied to the story. This organization, Raven, steals the source of fuse and begins using it in their own creations. Raven is a paramilitary organization and a weapons manufacturer. They've known about fuse, and they've prepared for it. That's why we see this increasing emphasis on fuse used by enemies the further you move into the game.

In terms of the game's personality, you mentioned that Fuse has a more mature sense of humor--not quite as slapstick as Ratchet. More subtle and dry. That's a lot trickier to do. It's hard to do that sense of humor and not have it go completely over the audience's head. Describe the challenge of that.

The challenge is doing just what you said, having a sense of humor that isn't campy but isn't so subtle that players miss it. And then integrating it into real-time gameplay so players hear emergent dialogue throughout the game that's relevant to what they're doing but also entertaining.

I think that [writer] TJ Fixman and [creative director] Brian Allgeier have worked really closely with all of our designers and gameplay programmers to figure out good places to expose more of our heroes' personalities through humor and through humorous interactions that are much more of a departure from the standard military jargon that we hear in other third-person shooters. We hope that it keeps it more entertaining while informing the players about backstory for each of these characters.

One of the things that Insomniac Games has always done really well, in my eyes, is atmosphere. Resistance 3 stands out as one of the best examples of the past few years. How do you maintain those same standards when you're bouncing around the world, going to all these locations, and you can't just do that one style really well?

One aspect of Resistance 3 was that we were traveling to different locations, and we focused on making sure that the story was well integrated into those locations. The same thing's happening here. There's a reason you're going to those various places that we gave a tease of today. It's all driven by fuse and your ultimate mission to bring it back. So making sure that the environments don't feel like window dressing is enabled by using fuse in those environments, helping to tell a visual story about fuse and how Raven is using it. How their use of it is evolving throughout the game.

It's important to make those living, breathing environments impact the players just as much as the combat and characters. I'm really proud of what the environment team has been doing, how they've adhered to the story and they're telling it in a way that doesn't require words.

You mentioned in your PAX keynote address the importance of knowing your audience and focusing on a specific part of the market. Is this a new market for you guys, or are these the people who've played Ratchet over the past 10 years and now their tastes have matured?

Both, I suppose. It works well for the people who grew up with Ratchet and love the crazy weapons but who are looking for a more grounded experience--but with a hint of that humor you don't find in many games. For the Resistance players, this is the kind of weapons-focused shooter that they love, but it introduces a multiplayer aspect--the four-player co-op with unique characters--that enhances that kind of gameplay and takes it further. It's a very Insomniac experience that our previous players will appreciate; it has a lot of hallmarks of who we are and how we design things.

After Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One being a co-op game, this being a co-op game, and Outernauts being a Facebook game, is Insomniac a multiplayer/social gaming company from here on out?

I can't imagine that any game we'd do from here on out will be single-player only. The game world has changed. As gamers, we've always been social, but thanks to the way technology has evolved, it's much easier for us to play together. It's much easier for developers to create experiences where you can play together. So we want to encourage that with all of our games. Ultimately, in my opinion, it's often more fun to play with a friend. However, with Fuse, we do focus heavily on the campaign and ensuring that if you're playing by yourself, you'll have just as much fun as you do with your friends. We spent a lot of time on our AI bots and making sure they're solid and they do what you expect them to do at the right times.

We understand that a large portion of players are interested in that single-player experience. A lot of us gamers are interested in both. I love single-player games, but I also love multiplayer games, and I think that Fuse offers you the opportunity to do both without having to skimp on either side.

You're debuting a new engine and new development tools with Fuse. The timing seems interesting to debut that new tech at the tail end of this console cycle. How equipped are you guys to deal with the next console cycle?

It's important to note that we've worked on this new tech for a while. It wasn't an overnight decision to start working on new tech now. It's been several years in the works, and it was the result of having a toolset and an engine that was a carryover from PlayStation 2.

When we built Resistance: Fall of Man, we were building it on the back of the tools approach we had used on PlayStation 2. We inherited a lot of baggage with that. Long load times and long build times in particular. Tools that didn't necessarily decrease iteration time. We had wanted to make the shift for quite a number of years. Going multiplatform was the big opportunity for us to do that. It didn't have anything to do with any new approaching consoles.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"PlayStation 3 | A Vision of Insomniac's Future" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 12 Sep 2012 06:45:17 -0700
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Xbox 360 | Insomniac Shows What It Does Best With Fuse E-mail
Written by Munk   

The co-op shooter formerly known as Overstrike shows Insomniac branching out with its strengths firmly in mind.

 

After years of developing exclusives across three generations of PlayStation hardware, Insomniac has ventured into multiplatform territory with Fuse, an upcoming co-op shooter in the vein of Borderlands. It's Insomniac's first attempt at multiplatform development as well as its first new console IP since Resistance. Not easy work, and a task made more challenging by the fact that a small army of fans is upset over the stylistic changes made to the game since it debuted last year under the name Overstrike. It's too bad, really. There are so many people focused on what Fuse isn't, when what it is happens to be pretty damn fun.

Spend a few minutes playing Fuse, and it's clear that Insomniac isn't ready to abandon what it does best. Just like Ratchet and Resistance before it, Fuse features an arsenal of wild and ridiculous weaponry. The story goes that the US government has spent years experimenting in secret with a powerful alien substance called fuse, combining it with earthly materials to create a stockpile of devastating (and slightly absurd) firearms. After a rogue paramilitary organization decides to steal this fuse technology, a task force (hint: that's you) is called in to track it down.

Fortunately, the fight is evened somewhat because these four player characters also have access to fuse weapons. Each player uses a different type of experimental weapon, creating a class system where everyone has unique abilities to help the team out in his or her own special way. You've got Dalton, who can fire massive short-range energy pulses and put up barriers to block enemy fire. Naya can activate a stealth cloak and use her warp rifle to coat enemies in a substance that triggers a lethal singularity (which can bounce from one enemy to another like a freaking pinball). Izzy can use her shattergun to freeze enemies into crystals ripe for shattering as well as fire healing rounds to help her teammates. And finally, Jacob has got a crazy crossbow called the arc shot that can pin enemies to walls and (when properly charged up) melt those enemies into gooey puddles of lava.

These varied weapons lead to an interesting system where players are using their abilities in unison (like Jacob firing face-melting bolts at a turret gunner from behind the protection of Dalton's shield) while still racing each other for the kills necessary to build up their own unique skill trees. The usual co-op mechanics are there, like reviving fallen teammates, but it's that way of toying with enemies as a team that sells the co-op experience. There are a lot of combinations to work with, and figuring them out in the heat of battle is a lot of fun.

Of course, not everyone will play through the campaign with a full roster of four players, and that's where the character-swapping, "leaping" mechanic comes in handy. Rather than choosing your one character at the start of the campaign, you can hit a button at any point during the action to instantly jump into the shoes of another character of your choice. As long as there's one open slot on the team, you can either jump around by yourself or play what Insomniac calls a "musical chairs" game of three human players constantly leaping around to the one open character.

The whole thing represents the sort of natural progression that you'd expect from Insomniac's increasing emphasis on social experiences in its games. What feels like a larger change of pace, though, is the game's sense of humor. Fuse maintains a focus on humor like the Ratchet & Clank series, but it's a more subtle, almost dry sense of humor. Rather than pratfalls and sight gags, it's dark jokes about how the all-business Dalton doesn't care whether a mysterious Raven device contains "the head of Walt Disney," followed by a disconcerting glow and Jacob quipping, "That…doesn't look like Walt Disney's head." It's an M-rated game, and the humor comes from how the characters react to these dangerous situations.

In that way, Fuse is almost a blend of Ratchet's humor and Resistance's seriousness. The things it shares in common with both those games, however, is its sci-fi nature and whirlwind tour through various settings affected by a powerful threat. In your journeys tracking down Raven, you'll venture all over the world, from a palace in India to Raven's intimidating headquarters in the Swiss Alps. It's almost got a Bond film quality to it in that regard--its heroes are constantly on the run after an elusive organization operating in numerous parts of the world.

One caveat is that the cutscenes Insomniac showed were far from complete, so it was tough to get a full picture of what this game's sense of style and personality will be like. But with that said, I went back and rewatched that original Overstrike announcement trailer, and the general look wasn't that different from the version Insomniac presented. The humor was a bit subtler than what the trailer offered, but it honestly wasn't that far off from what I saw from Fuse.

It's a good thing, too, because Fuse looks great with its brand-new engine driving all the action. This is a game that deserves a distinct personality, and it doesn't seem that Insomniac has forgotten that personality is something it does quite well. Fuse is schedule for release sometime in 2013.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Xbox 360 | Insomniac Shows What It Does Best With Fuse" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 12 Sep 2012 06:45:09 -0700
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Xbox 360 | Putting Player Choices to the Test in Epic Mickey 2 E-mail
Written by Munk   

How a joke led to Warren Spector learning something new about his own game.

 

"In the first game, we did what I call Choice and Consequence Lite," says Warren Spector as he demos Epic Mickey 2's newly announced Fort Wasteland level. "We didn't want to scare 'normal' people, so we lightened up a little bit. This time we're not doing that."

Fort Wasteland is an oddly appropriate place to demonstrate what Warren Spector promises to be a more lasting style of player choice. This part of the game is a dark and gloomy take on Frontierland, the Old West-inspired chunk of Disneyland where saloons, steamboats, and simulated wilderness dominate the landscape.

If during your platforming adventures you see a high point you want to reach and no way to get there, you can cut down a tree and use it as a ramp to easily walk up to that previously inaccessible point. The only problem? That tree is down for good. Make a habit of this and you're effectively clear-cutting the American West. You've become your own Disney villain, and no amount of leaving that level and coming back to it will change things.

"We didn't do that in the first game," says Spector. "We didn't ever say, 'You can't undo this.' We let you get all the thinner rewards, and then you could go back and get all the paint rewards in the same place."

This gets me wondering: How do you stress-test a system like this? How do you ensure these permanent choices don't eventually break the game?

"Brutal testing!" Spector responds. "What you do is test the extreme cases. In Deus Ex, I made people play through without ever using a weapon. I made them play through and kill absolutely everything that moved. Or get through the game without ever using a skill, or an augmentation. If you do that, you can be pretty certain that anything in the middle is gonna work."

"Publishers hate that," jokes Spector. "It's really scary, but people are going to figure out how to do things that are impossible. In Deus Ex, we had so many people figuring out how to get outside of the gameworld that we had to put crates and ladders outside the maps so they could get back in."

Back on the subject of Epic Mickey 2, Spector remarks, "You can literally get through the game without ever using paint. Or, without ever using thinner."

Half-jokingly, I immediately respond with, "How about both? Can you get through without using paint or thinner?"

"I don't think you can," Spector responds. But he sounds uncertain. It's a crazy idea, when you think about it. Paint and thinner are the yin and yang of Epic Mickey, your two most central tools for reshaping the Wasteland as you see fit. Sure, you can get through the game without using one. But both?

This is exactly when Irvin Chavira chimes in. As a QA tester on Epic Mickey 2, Chavira has to break the game so that it can be fixed. If there's anyone who knows the boundaries of practicality in Epic Mickey 2, it's him.

"You can," Chavira counters, matter-of-factly.

"Are you serious?!" Spector exclaims from across the table, practically spitting out the sandwich he's been working on in between discussions about the game.

"It won't be 100 percent, because if you want to get 100 percent you have to make certain decisions [involving paint and thinner]. But I think you can get through the core path without using either paint or thinner," says Chavira.

"That's the beauty of this stuff!" remarks Specter, beaming from ear to ear. "When games are open-ended enough that the people who work on them don't know if something's possible, that's pretty magical."

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Xbox 360 | Putting Player Choices to the Test in Epic Mickey 2" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 05 Sep 2012 15:26:14 -0700
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