Well, we’ve had a brief overview of the games I saw at EGX2014. I think it’s time to go over the games that I spent some serious time playing, and thought were actually pretty darn good.
Blood Borne had the longest queue of any of the games in the PlayStation tents – and with good reason. As the successor to Demon’s Souls, the PlayStation exclusive predecessor to the Dark Souls series, it has a lot of hype surrounding it. The world is certainly a different one to the ones shows in Dark Souls and Demons Souls – where they had a definite medieval vibe, Bloodborne has a more Nightmare Creatures, Victorian London aesthetic. In its basics, Bloodborne is very Demon’s Souls. The triggers to attack, a dodge move, items readied with the dpad; but its the details that the game introduces a lot of differences.
I chose to play the ‘normal’ class of character, armed with a blunderbuss and what amounts to an an over-sized barber’s razor. The gun had limited ammo and short range, but had decent stopping power. The razor could be used folded and unfolded; there is a button (L1) dedicated to primary weapon transformation, so I guess all weapons will have some manner of dual form. In its compact form, the razor gave short, quick slashes – unfolded it became slower, longer and more deadly. The transformation could also be used mid combo, allowing you to deliver a few quick hits before unfolding the razor. Enemies fitted into the usual categories of low level shambling zombie-folk, dogs and one big bastard that I probably shouldn’t have messed with.
Graphically the game looks detail-heavy. It could really do with some anti-aliasing to help some of the sharper edges in all that detail, though the focus should remain on getting the game to run smoother. From what I could tell it seems to be running at an unlocked frame-rate, going somewhere between 25-35 – not too dissimilar to Demon’s Souls, which would also slow down on physics heavy moments. Bloodborne is definitely a successor to the Demon’s Souls legacy, and I look forward to its release.
The Order 1886
The Order had a decidedly shorter queue to Bloodborne (about 90% shorter) most people seemed to be quite content with having seen it in action at E3 and GamesCOM. Getting hands on with it, I can definitely say The Order is the best looking next-gen game. The smoothness of the edges, the visual effects, the detail of the faces (and moustaches) was all top end stuff. The flow from cutscene to gameplay is superb as well.
However – and this is a big however – the demo presents a very tightly scripted bit of action. You control Galahad with his unique weapon which fires a flammable gas with the primary function, and ignites it with the secondary. You sit in cover, spray the weapon and kill a few bad guys; then you sprint forward and use your pistol to take out a few bad guys as you try to extract a wounded team mate. The demo could have done with more gameplay and less cutscene, and the weapon is not particularly satisfying when taking out enemies. Tight, scripted gameplay need not be a terrible thing. Gears of War 3 didn’t open up too much, but it was a still a very fun game to play through, backed up by a story that hit the tone just right. Order’s ability to hold interest in its gameplay over the course of the game remains to be seen, but I’d almost say the graphics and setting are worth the entry fee alone (maybe not at full release price though!) Suffice to say it would be best to wait for reviews on this one.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
I watched a fair bit of Shadow of Mordor’s demo while waiting for my turn. The person in front of me made the game look average; he failed his attempts at sneak kills, didn’t counter much and hacked away with the square button. These were the quick notes I jotted down while waiting “Sharp textures. Kind of ugly. Good frame rate. Open. Assassin’s creed x Batman.” The game looked okay, but nothing special – the combat looked like EA’s LOTR Two Tower’s game (that’s to say pretty poor) and had the obligatory Batman style Triangle to dodge prompt. Then I went hands on with the game.
Graphically the game is good, but not great. Detailed textures, and good framerate are matched by a rather bland faced main character and designs that feel all-too familiar. Does every ranger really need to look like Aragorn? The landscape is also a mixed affair with areas of good detail and others with very straight edged rocks. The game remains smooth, even when surrounded by lots of enemies, and for an action game, that is paramount.
The combat definitely takes a huge slice of inspiration from Batman, and it is just as satisfying. You have takedowns, parries, special moves and stealth kills. The sound for the flurry attacks is perfect as well, adding to the visceral thrill of slaughtering the uruk hordes. You have a huge Viking: Battle for Asgard style map that you can wander around doing missions. The climbing and stealth kills are very Assassin’s Creed, especially the way in which your ranger chap scales incredibly high surfaces with ease. I admit, I’m probably using too many comparisons here – but that’s kind of what this game feels like. I mean that in a good way. The ideas are very much from other games, but they add up to a whole that feels very fun indeed. Shadow of Mordor went from a “might check out in the future” to a “must buy”
And those were the good – next post will cover the stinkers of EGX2014. There’s only two of them….but they really stink!