For those who are unfamiliar with Earth Defense Force (EDF), let me paint a word-picture of what the series is like, at least as I am familiar with it from the previous two game that have released in North America. Imagine a third-person shooter with low-budget graphics, hilarious animation, and a laughable storyline. Combine that mental image with the concepts of infinite ammo, flying saucers, lasers, jet packs, destructible environments, giant robots, hundreds of giant ants, spiders, and other insects. Does that sound awesome? Then EDF 2017 and its direct sequel EDF 2025 might just be for you.
The events of the first game aren’t all that important. All you need to know is that aliens dubbed “The Ravagers” descended on Earth, and were defeated by the Earth Defense Force. Thought to be destroyed, the Ravagers suddenly reappear in 2025 stronger than ever, and the EDF must once more step up to stop the global threat.
Taking cues from a previous EDF title called Insect Armageddon, 2025 has four playable classes. The Air Raider can call down vehicle drops and functions as a support class, improving and working with other classes. The Ranger class is the most balanced and “normal” of the classes, able to roll out of danger. The third class is the mobile Wing Diver, who comes equipped with a jet pack and laser weapons. Playing as a Wing Diver was perhaps the most fun I had with a class in my hour with EDF 2025. The light weapons she uses are offset by her maneuverability in the air, in which she can fly almost indefinitely. Some of her weapons drain her jet pack energy, forcing an early landing if you aren’t careful, but there is no fall damage in EDF. Finally, the Fencer heavy weapons class can bring four weapons into a level instead of two and can switch between both load outs on the fly. Basically, the Fencer quadra-wields weapons. QUADRA. WIELDS. WEAPONS. Oh, and the Fencer has access to hyper-charged melee weapons like a gravity hammer that can be charged up and releases a gigantic shockwave.
The game was designed with splitscreen and online co-op in mind. Up to four people can play together online, while two people can play together locally in splitscreen. Some weapons can only be used in conjunction with other classes in multiplayer. The example I was shown involved the Air Raider and the Fencer. As the fencer, I had a weapon which fired a single, powerful guided-missile, while the Air Raider had a guiding laser which could be used to select the target for the missile.
Many features have stayed the same from 2017 to 2025. The goal of each mission is as simple as it ever was: Destroy all the enemies. There have been some slight graphical improvements and the frame rate no longer stutters when faced with hundreds of charging ants, spiders, flying saucers, giant robots, etc. However, the low-grade charm of 2017 remains intact. The multiple difficulty levels ranging from Easy to Inferno return, as well as better weapon rewards for completing higher difficulties. Previous EDF titles consisted of up to sixty missions. When I asked one of the developers about how many missions we could expect to see in 2025, she was unable to give the exact number of missions, but assured me that “the number will be much higher than sixty.” In 2017, buildings would crumble into rubble at the slightest touch of a rocket. While buildings no longer seems as if they are constructed of papier-mâché, they remain destructible. Another new aspect is that enemies can pick up your character and toss them around. While this might seem like it would be frustrating, players will be able to continue firing while grabbed. These attacks feature the use of new (and hilarious) ragdoll animations which also occur anytime your character is hit by an explosion.
The Earth Defense Force series holds a special place in my heart. With cheesy graphics, a laughable story, and hilarious scenarios, EDF has always been a great arcade experience to share with friends. By now it appears that 2025 will fill the shoes left by 2017. For every step taken to improve the experience, there is a half-step backward onto a banana peel, which is where Earth Defense Force truly shines. Mark my words, Earth Defense Force 2025 will be a cult classic for many years to come.
Earth Defense Force 2025 will release July 4, 2013 in Japan and February 4, 2014 in North America on Xbox 360 and PS3. There are currently no plans for a next-gen release.
Treyarch announced today that new DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops II titled Vengeance will be available on Xbox Live beginning July 2. This will be the third multiplayer DLC pack for the popular first-person shooter.
The map pack will include four new places to compete against fellow gamers: Cove, Detour, Rush, and Uplink. Cove takes place on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean on which a smuggling plane has crash landed. Covering a destroyed suspension bridge, Detour pits players head to head in confined, close-quarters combat. The Rush map actually takes place on a paintball course, while Uplink is a remake of the much loved Summit map from Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Vengeance will also include a new zombie map called Buried that takes place in an subterranean mining town from the Old West. Players will meet up with old characters from previous zombie modes and have access to a new weapon called the Ray Gun Mark II.
Who else is ready to blast some zombies and celebrate freedom?
Teased during the pre-E3 Sony press conference, I was given a screening of the twelve-minute long real-time short film developed by Quantic Dream for the PlayStation 4.
The tech demo itself is very impressive. The plot revolves around an actor trying to do his best to act within a video game and each take getting ruined by glitches and faux pas. The entire thing was done in real-time. Real-time graphics are all produced by the game engine, not as pre-rendered cutscenes. For people who might not understand what that means, think of it as the difference between seeing a performance live, versus a movie version. To prove that the demo was actually in real-time, we were shown a live demonstration of the tech, with a free camera moving around the set seen in the short film as the goblin moved around and lighting and other settings were changed on the fly.
The character models in the demo were created using the same techniques that Hollywood uses for big budget special effects characters. The actors in the short film even performed on a stage together to get the most realistic and believable interactions possible. The team even went so far as to include details that you never see in the trailer. Zooming in close to one of the sorcerer’s eyes, the presenter pointed out that they had included blood vessels, eyelashes, and even a waterline between the eye and the eyelid. This amount of detailing is now possible, and even if you have no need of that minutia, this means you only need to create one character model during development instead of several for varying distances. If a game director wants to have the camera go right up to the eyeball, he can have that shot without creating drastically more work for the team. All this work on the character models occurs so that emotion can be conveyed in subtle ways, through facial expressions and body language instead of using words. Quantic dream has worked hard to eliminate imperfections and achieve what they call “true HD.” This means no jagged lines that appear upon close inspection of most current generation titles.
The presenter told us that despite how good The Dark Sorcerer looks, there is still a lot of room for improvement. He stated that on top of using unoptimized hardware, they were only making use of about half of the PS4’s memory capacity, using the same engine from Beyond: Two Souls, and were just using hi-res character models that they plugged into the system to see what would happen. In the future they will have optimized hardware, make full use of the internal memory, a new game engine specifically for PS4, and models made for those ideal hardware limits. Quantic Dream took only six months to create The Dark Sorcerer from scratch and it is exciting to imagine what they might come up with in a full production cycle with a dedicated team.
Much like Kara, which eventually became Beyond: Two Souls, The Dark Sorcerer is meant to show off the capabilities of the new hardware, not to be taken as a trailer for an actual game. That isn’t to say The Dark Sorcerer might not become something more in the future, but for now the developers assured me that they don’t have anything in the works for The Dark Sorcerer beyond the tech demo.
At E3 2013, Sony went out of its way to demonstrate its support of indie titles and developers, dedicating a large section of their booth area specifically to independent games. One of the games on display was Supergiant Games’ Transistor which I was able to play for a sizable chunk of time.
The demo of Transistor began with text, explaining that assassins had been silencing the important voices of Cloudbank one by one and that Red, one of the most famous and beloved singers in the city, was next. These assassins, who belong to a group known as “The Process,” fail to kill Red, but succeed in taking her voice. Red is saved by clutching onto the Transistor, a sword-like device that contains a sentient intelligence and can absorb other minds into its own. The Transistor whisks Red to safety on the other side of Cloudbank, where it explains to her what it is and who The Process are. Red sheds her impractical singer’s garb and takes off on the run from the homicidal machines of The Process.
As I progressed through the level, I encountered people who had recently died or were dying. The Transistor was able to communicate with them and convince their souls to come along on the adventure, absorbing them into itself. Each time this occurred, a new ability was unlocked to use in battle. After unlocking all the abilities in the demo, I was able to attack with a short-range shockwave, a long-range piercing laser, a devastating cluster bomb attack, and teleport dash through obstacles and enemies to use sneak attacks.
Much like Supergiant Games’ critically acclaimed Bastion, combat occurs in real-time. However, players can now freeze time and plan out their next few moves in advance before executing them in quick succession. This adds a very enjoyable layer of strategy to engaging enemies in combat. Players won’t be able to use this ability continuously. A bar at the top of the screen depletes after each usage, and players will need to wait until it fills back up again to unleash their strategic fury upon their foes. There are light RPG elements to the combat, as well. You can see how much life enemies have and how much damage you do to them. After a combo done in strategic mode, a small message will appear next to an enemy which tells you how well you did against it. I actually laughed out loud after I unleashed a flurry of attacks against a boss creature and the message progressed from “Great!” to “Overkill” to “Seriously, can’t you read?”
Transistor felt really at home on the PS4. The Supergiant team did a great job mapping the controls to appropriate and natural feeling buttons and creating a pretty self-explanatory HUD. Each attack was mapped to one of the controller’s face buttons, while R2 controlled the time freeze ability. There was just something intangibly satisfying about destroying enemies in both real-time and in the lightning strikes following the time freeze.
Given that Red has lost her voice, the Transistor becomes her voice. It talks constantly, explaining the world and monologue-ing about the state of affairs in which the two find themselves. The demo ends with the Transistor urging her to escape, but Red silently riding her motorcycle back into the heart of Cloudbank with the amazed Transistor in tow. I honestly couldn't wait to see what happened next and how abilities would be expanded and improved further along in the game.
Visually and audibly, Transistor impressed me. I even heard that someone (i.e. me) put the trailer for Supergiant Games’ next hit on loop in a YouTube playlist, just to hear its music and see the visuals. But don’t just take my word for it. You can watch the trailer below:
Transistor will release in early 2014 on PS4 and PC.
As many people know, Jonathan Blow, the creator of the highly acclaimed indie game Braid, has been working on his next game called The Witness. However, details on the project are incredibly scarce.
What many people do not know is that a while ago there was a call for people to submit art that could become a poster for The Witness. It turns out that the art poster was (very) briefly featured in this PS4 promotional spot at about 0:57. You can now download the hi-res image from their website. From there, Jonathan Blow says that, "If you like it, feel free to use it as a desktop image, or whatever!"
I know think I know what will be going up on my walls sometime soon!
The fine folks at CD Projekt RED were kind enough to show us a nearly hour long gameplay demo of the upcoming high-fantasy RPG blockbuster, as well as answer some of our nagging questions. Here is what we took away from what we saw.
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is set several years after the events of The Witcher 2, meaning that there are few direct connections to previous games in the series. The decision was made to distance the third title from the previous two so that the team could step away from the political intrigue of the previous titles and focus on Geralt’s personal journey. In The Witcher 3, Geralt is in pursuit of a terrifying and deadly group of spectral warriors known as the Wild Hunt. In the game world, witchers were originally monster hunters and that aspect of the game world will become the central focus of the story.
There are several new features being added into The Witcher 3:
Trading and Bartering: the new system will make it profitable to travel around the world buying and selling items to locations that might have them in short supply to earn a profit. For example, fish will be cheap in coastal towns, while towns farther inland or far from bodies of water will pay well for fish.
Transportation: With the dramatically increased scope of the world, the team at CD Projekt RED wanted to make it easy to traverse the world. To this end, they included abilities and vehicles like swimming climbing, sailing, riding, and fast travel. These means of transportation are not without their hazards however. We were cautioned that sailing into a storm, could result in a ship wreck and having to swim to shore and that swimming comes with its own dangers, like freezing from ice water.
A Day/Night Cycle: You will be able to rest and change the time of day. This will have various effects on the monsters you hunt and how you hunt them. The example we were given was that if you were to fight werewolves, you would be better off fighting them in daylight, rather than under the light of a full-moon.
Witcher Senses: the visualization of Geralt’s years of training. You’ll be able to see the important investigative markers that will help you track monsters. These clues will lead you to monsters or give you clues regarding how to best defeat them.
The scale of The Witcher 3 has increased dramatically. For the purposes of the demo, we were only shown one island, but we were told that island was bigger than all of The Witcher 2. In fact, the entire world is 35x larger than the previous Witcher games and it is entirely open world. The team at CD Projekt RED designed the world to be large, but also dense, so there will always be something new to explore and see just over the next hill or behind the next tree.
We were shown a portion of the main quest, which revolves around Geralt’s mission to destroy the Wild Hunt, a ghastly, deadly, and evil collection of spectral warriors. In the gameplay segment, Geralt was searching for Bjorn, the sole survivor of a raid by the Hunt. Traveling to the small village in which Bjorn has gone to stay with relatives, the demonstrator steered us toward some intriguing ruins on the top of a hill. He explained to us that the team has worked very hard to make such areas appealing so that players will want to diverge from the beaten path and explore. In the ruins, we discovered a hulking creature known as a fiend. Looking like a cross between a stag and a rhinoceros, the fiend charged Geralt and we were given the chance to see the titular witcher in combat. More dodge moves have been added since The Witcher 2, increasing maneuverability within combat scenarios. Geralt can also do minor magic, like shooting sparks and flames from his hands. These spells will have different effects on monsters, like lighting them on fire which can then spread elsewhere.
As the fight with the fiend progressed, it demonstrated how important it is to know your adversary in The Witcher 3. When you discover what kind of a beast you are going to be facing, it is best to consult the Bestiary, a compendium of Geralt’s lifetime of monster hunting and adventuring. This will give players insight into how best to tackle the creature. With the fiend, he can cast a spell of darkness and shroud itself in shadow, the only visible thing remaining is a singular red eye on its forehead. It can use this opportunity to either attack or escape, making an unprepared attack on the fiend a very poor idea.
For prospective players who are just hearing about this series now or who are intrigued, we were assured that players won’t have had to play the The Witcher and The Witcher 2 in order to understand what is happening. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in early 2014.
In the midst of the insanity that made up E3 2013, I encountered a game called Pinstripe at the IndieCade booth. What followed was akin to a descent into surreal madness of the sort one might expect from a more malign Alice in Wonderland.
With little introduction, I was thrust into the role of James Weaks, an absurdly wealthy man who is aboard a train with his wife. After being asked to retrieve my wife’s scarf, I was able to explore the various compartments of the train using the W, A, S, and D keys to move. As I moved through the train cars, I came into contact with various other passengers who chatted about their goals in life, before I was able to proceed. Once I obtained the scarf from several cars farther forward, I encountered what appeared to be a demonic cat. With some cryptic words, the cat vanished and the train wrecked itself in a snowy land.
The haunting melodies of Pinstripe’s soundtrack played as I tried to get my bearings. Donning my wife’s scarf against the cold, I soldiered on through the ice. Soon I began to meet other survivors from the wreck, but all of them seemed different, obsessed with their desires. One of the first people I encountered was an alcoholic from the train, who was now obsessed with drinking the honey from black beehives. After retrieving a hive for him to eat, he allowed me through his shelter and I found a blunderbuss. With this weapon I was able to sever ropes and fight the enemies that had appeared; odd tear drop creatures with propellers that dropped oozing bombs. It became clear that not everything was right in the world.
Pressing onward, I solved more problems from people who had been on the train and I met what seemed to be a dog from my childhood. I saw the fleeting image of my wife, running in the distance. Shortly after, I was told by the demonic cat that my wife was waiting at the hotel, a building off in the distance. To reach the hotel, I needed to take a boat across a lake. In a scene that brought to mind the crossing of the river Styx from Greek mythology, I was propelled on the boat by a lanky, oozing, black creature with a singular red eye for a head. Upon reaching the far shore, I disembarked (hoping never to see that monster again) and made my way into the nearby hotel where I was greeted by the demonic feline. At this point, my demonic guide revealed that the world was no longer the mortal world, but “a place where the selfish become more selfish” before vanishing into a puff of smoke.
More than a little disturbed, I made my way to the top of the hotel, encountering fantastical creatures, like a strange spore-spider creature the size of an entire room. In the process of solving puzzles, I ran across a newspaper with a headline proclaiming the suicide of a certain Mr. James Weaks and a scrap of paper hinting that the pinstripe man might know of a way out of this world. More and more perplexed, I made my way to the room in which the cat had told me my wife would be, only to find a mannequin and the black cat, taunting me for my foolishness and condemning me to spend eternity within the room. Seemingly doomed to spend the rest of existence trapped and alone with my dog, I explored my prison. After fiddling with a singular mirror, a portal to another world was opened and I stepped though with my trusty dog companion.
On the other side of the mirror, a crystalline wall arose and would not open, unless someone stood on a certain spot. Gently, my dog explained that it had been my loyal friend its entire life, and it would not stop being so now. Urging me to go on, it stood on the switch and allowed me to proceed – leaving him behind. It was a poignant moment and one that was followed by the conclusion of my time with Pinstripe.
At its heart, Pinstripe is a 2D point-and-click adventure game with some light puzzle, action, and platforming elements. Overall, the impression I walked away from Pinstripe with was good. The surreal insanity of the world really engaged me and kept me wondering where the story would bring me next. The sound design and music are worth noting as well, given how well they blended with the simple and understated visuals. The actual gameplay was frankly a bit bland, but it was serviceable and it didn’t really need to be interesting given the intriguing aesthetic, sounds, music, and story.
Pinstripe is being developed by one-man team Thomas Brush and will continue development until it is done, aiming for a release on PC sometime in 2013.
One of the indie titles on display at the Sony E3 booth was a game called Outlast. I stopped by to play Red Barrels’ heart-pounding descent into horror on the PS4.
While waiting to play the game I took the opportunity to chat with a couple of the Outlast developers. With their goal being to “make the game as scary as possible,” I was told that Outlast relies heavily on paranoia, drawing upon the hair-raising Amnesia: The Dark Descent for inspiration. I was also told that they designed the game with somewhat unpredictable AI. Even while playtesting the game multiple times, enemies would do the unexpected and create organic scares. This means that few of the moments in Outlast are predetermined, scripted events. Scenarios employ an “ease in, ease out” where a scripted sequence will introduce a new enemy and their motivation, then concluding with another scripted sequence. In between these two segments, the AI will take over and direct the enemy’s actions for the majority of the gameplay segment.
In Outlast, players take on the mantle of independent journalist Miles Upshur as he breaks into a remote asylum for the criminally insane in Colorado. Miles is on the trail of a compelling news story after receiving an anonymous tip that something was happening at the asylum. This is the situation in which I assumed control of Miles and began playing. Being a journalist, Miles’ constant companion throughout the game will be his trusty camera, through which he views almost all of the horrific events taking place within the asylum. The camera is his only tool, allowing him and the player to see in the darkness. The downside of this is that the camera runs on batteries. If you run out of batteries, your ability to see in the dark is drastically reduced and you are left very vulnerable. One of the hooks of Outlast is that there is no combat. You cannot fight the enemies, you can only run, hide, and pray that they don’t find you.
After checking the front door of the asylum and finding it locked, Miles decides it would be a great idea to break in through an old set of scaffolding which leads up to a window. Upon entering, he sees blood all over the floor. For some suicidal reason he is undeterred and pushes on, despite seeing bodies and obvious signs that something has gone horribly wrong. By the time Miles figures out that the asylum is one of the worst places on earth it is too late and he is trapped in the depths of the asylum with some of the worst and most twisted criminal minds on the loose.
Not all of the enemies will want to kill Miles immediately. This trades on the paranoia that Red Barrels wants to provide. Some of the inmates will have different reactions toward Miles ranging from benevolence to apathy to murderous hatred.
The question most survival horror fans must be pondering: Is Outlast scary? Horror, like humor, is a subjective thing. However, in my time with Outlast I physically jumped, was unnerved, and made involuntary noises. The atmosphere is taut and nails the feeling of being in an abandoned building full of lunatics. As for the lunatics in question they were incredibly effective as nightmare material. In my estimation: Yes. Outlast is very scary and you can look forward to being terrified and entertained.
Outlast will debut on PC at the end of summer, while the PS4 version will release in early 2014. Currently there are no plans to bring the title to Xbox One.
During E3, I stopped by the independent developer portion of the Sony booth to see the titles that the publisher has been attracting to the PS4. One of the titles on display was Ray’s the Dead, a humorous take on the zombie apocalypse. Like any zombie-loving individual, I felt the tug of intrigue and went in for a closer look.
One of the first things that struck me about Ray’s The Dead was the art style, which is vaguely reminiscent of Plants vs. Zombies, but with its own flair and a 3D- background with which the 2D character models contrast nicely separating it from anything else that I've played before. The game is set during the 80s and little touches can be seen throughout the demo like the Pac-Man ghosts and the Double Deuce bar from the ’89 film Road House.
I played through the first level of the game which began with Ray, the titular zombie character, arising from the grave. After scaring some of the local hillbilly inhabitants, Ray learns that he can raise and command zombies by using the light bulb that is inexplicably implanted into his skull. After raising a few of the dead in the graveyard, Ray and his friends encountered a number of farmers who yelled things like “ERHMERGERD!” at the sight of a pack of approaching zombies. This was when I learned that I could give the zombies orders to attack specific locations and targets, much like the gameplay found in Nintendo's Pikmin titles. After killing a human, you can resurrect them to become part of your growing zombie army.
In the final area of the graveyard, I encountered a fist-fighting redneck and engaged him in one-on-one combat (which ended with Ray cartoonishly devouring his brains). Ray can perform finishing moves on stunned opponents that increase his health by 25% in addition to his normal melee attacks.
After the graveyard, I led my burgeoning zombie apocalypse into the town proper where it just so happened to be Halloween. With the kids walking around in costumes, the pack of zombies didn’t look out of place and no one was any the wiser. I was told by the developers that there would be a recurring theme throughout the game of people being unable to recognize the zombies as a real threat or writing them off for various (and possibly ridiculous) reasons. This part of the level relied on being sneaky, not killing anyone, and avoiding police dogs who could sniff out the decaying flesh of the undead. After making it through the sniffing dog section (which is a phrase I would have never expected to write), I encountered a wall that needed ten zombies to knock over, but only had seven following me. The solution? Hide zombies in bushes to gnaw on random pedestrians! After welcoming the new brainless to the flock, I pushed forward to the next part of our journey.
In the next segment, Ray encountered zombie dogs. The devs told us that these were just one of many different types of zombies that would have special effects. While ordering a normal zombie to attack results in the zombie shambling over to the target, zombie dogs will dash towards their enemies and stun them briefly, giving you a safe opening to send in the rest of your zombie army. After mastering these handy tools of the zombie trade, the zombie army made its way toward the final confrontation with the now alerted local law enforcement of the sleepy southern town.
The final area was the main street of the town where cops had converged to stop the zombie menace from spreading. This section of the demo proved particularly challenging and, much to my chagrin, I was unable to complete it. The build I saw was in pre-Alpha, so not all of the kinks were worked out, but this game shows a lot of potential.
Keep an eye out for it in early 2014 when it releases on PC, Mac, Linux, and PS4.
One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat.
The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation.
Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture.
Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan.
As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life.
It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game.
As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice.
Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014.
During the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD portion of Nintendo's pre-E3 conference, the company revealed some key aspects of the upcoming revamp to the classic GameCube title. Changes include some light integration of motion controls, like aiming bows or grappling hooks with the GamePad, some improved pacing changes, and fast travel has been added to the sea-faring portions of Wind Waker.
After playing around with the game shortly after the pre-E3 show, I can confirm that the changes are in place and blend very well with the rest of the game. One of the three items available in the demo was the bow and arrow, which are now aimed with the GamePad. Admittedly, it takes some time to acclimate to lining up shots using motion controls. To make the game seem more smooth and natural, almost all pausing was worked out of the game. Inventory and equipment management has all been moved to the GamePad. Finally, it is still unclear how faster traveling will be implemented in Wind Waker HD. You might need a special item or have it from the first time you step aboard Link's magical, talking vessel.
One feature from the original game, the Tingle Tuner, won't be reappearing in Wind Waker HD. Instead, Tingle Bottles replace the Game Boy Advance attachment item and provide all the same functionality. Players will also be able to send each other messages through the Miiverse. The feature to receive messages can block spoilers, block non-friend messages, or block all messages entirely.
The most obvious way in which the title has been improved is in the graphical department. Brighter lighting, smoother lines, and bolder outlines all contribute to an update to a classic that many thought had aged well. Let me put it this way, the old Wind Waker looked great when it came out over a decade ago and many maintained that the cell-shaded art style would render it timeless. While it certainly has shown some slight signs of aging, the GameCube title still looks fantastic. With the Wind Waker HD looking noticeably better in many respects, it is incredibly hard to imagine a future version of the title looking any better than it does on the Wii U.
For those worried that any significant changes might have been made to the story, characters, or world, I was assured by multiple Nintendo reps that, other than the Tingle Tuner, everything is the same as the GameCube version.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will be available sometime in October 2013.
After the last minute pre-E3 presentation by Nintendo yesterday morning, the company allowed the gathered journalists to play every game that they had talked about (with the exception of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS). I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to sit down and play A Link Between Worlds without distractions for 10 minutes. The goal of the demo was to make your way through a dungeon to the boss at the top of the tower.
The first thing that I noticed is that the familiar control scheme of previous handheld Legend of Zelda entries has been altered slightly. The most notable change is that movement now occurs with the 3DS joystick rather than the D-pad. This small alteration actually changes the game quite a bit. You can now face in any number of angles as opposed to only facing up, down, left, right, and diagonal variations on those directions.
On first loading up the game, you can immediately discern the unique graphical style that sets A Link Between Worlds apart from other top-down Zelda titles. The visuals draw from older depictions of Link found in early game manuals and combine that look with some light cell-shading elements from Zelda titles like Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. The 3D was on in full effect for the entire duration of my play, even though I normally leave it off or only slightly active. I found that the 3D added significantly to the experience, especially within the multi-floor dungeon that I played through.
Starting out in the dungeon, I was equipped with a magic hammer capable of squashing springs for a certain amount of time and Link can use the squashed spring to propel himself to higher floors. The 3D capabilities of the system allowed me to see higher areas to which I could be sprung. However, within the first room I learned that the emphasis of the demo would be on Link’s new ability to meld into walls as a 2D drawing.
At first, I thought that the wall melding trick would just be a gimmick used once to highlight its potential in the demo and then never be touched on again, but I was wrong. Many of the most creative puzzles revolved entirely around being able to read Link's environment and knowing when to become 2D and when to stay a normal shape. A great example of how this ability promotes outside-the-box kinds of thinking was at the point where I had reached the top of how far I could go within the tower. With no way out, I flailed around for a few seconds before noticing a grated window. Having exhausted all other options, I decided to try and go through the grate as 2D Link, and low and behold I went through the bars to discover that the second half of the dungeon was using the wall meld ability to navigate the outside of the dungeon. Being several floors up above the ground, stuck in a wall (which drains mana), and desperate to find a platform to emerge upon was a tense, fun experience.
In my time with the demo dungeon, I managed to reach floor 9, which I was told was right before the dungeon boss. I found it to be a classic Zelda-style game with little improvements and tweaks that add depth to the game and create new and exciting puzzles to be solved.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be coming sometime soon to 3DS.