Monday, September 12, 2011

Looks Like I'm Hype for Skyward Sword Again... (plus 3DS Conference recap)

I have said on numerous occasions that I haven't been excited for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Then again, I still have my Wii around with not a lot of disc games left and at this rate I might as well get it on its November 20 release. A lot of new details are getting revealed in the coming weeks from the Game Informer cover story to tonight's Nintendo "3DS-heavy" conference (I'll recap it below). Shigeru Miyamoto comes in classic form busting out the Master Sword and Hylian Shield to hype fans up as he shows off new footage from Skyward Sword. I expressed my disappointments with Twlight Princess before and even though they're not doing changes to the core formula, it might be the little things that are making me hop on back to the hype train again. Nintendo just announced how this Zelda title will have crazy amounts of replay value (50 to 100 hours! Probably overblown comment for now) from the usual sidequests, a 2nd quest (haven't seen that in a Zelda game since OOT Master Quest), and a boss rush mode (which debuted in OOT 3D). We'll still see if I still get this game considering I'll be going H.A.M. in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (saving Skyrim for December and been on a blackout with that game not seeing any footage till the game releases), but Nintendo somehow always find a way to get me excited about their games again.

There isn't really much to say about Nintendo's Japanese 3DS conference last night other than Iwata "dropping the bomb" that is the Monster Hunter franchise. In case you don't know, Monster Hunter is pretty much Japan's "Call of Duty." I don't mean that its their shooter to play, but its basically Japan's most popular franchise right now which everyone plays as Call of Duty is stateside. After getting leaked last week in Japanese magazines, the dreaded second pad is coming with Monster Hunter Tri 3G in December. It will also support other games in the future such as Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D and the 3DS Kingdom Hearts game. Iwata's bombshell however is not just one Monster Hunter game but two games as it looks like Nintendo is able to get Capcom to announce Monster Hunter 4 for their handheld, which is pretty big for Japanese audiences. Who knows how exclusive it is on the 3DS, whether is fully to the platform or a timed exclusive eventually appearing on the Playstation Vita (we'll probably find out on SCEJ's conference tonight our time and whatever Vita goodies they have in store for fans). Nintendo did show off their first party lineup from Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Kid Icarus (delayed to 2012 now), and a new Animal Crossing game, but its pretty much them sticking to what works on handhelds than consoles which are those games with Kid Icarus being an exception (or in many people's view Sin & Punishment 3 with a playable Pit and tons of AR card support). A new Fire Emblem game was announced for the 3DS and other third parties like Square-Enix announced original IPs for the system, but fans pretty much expected new games and got them. At least at Japan, Nintendo's solution to make the 3DS not a failure as people have been claiming so far is bringing in the country's #1 franchise exclusive to their platform and that's basically what sums up this conference.

Another Beta Full of Stabbing Dudes... Hands-On with the Assassins Creed: Revelations MP Beta

Let's get this out of the way from the get go: I'm not really that into the Assassins Creed franchise, but I'm still glad it exists as it definitely has its fanbase. Another year means another game as Assassins Creed: Revelations is on track for a November 15 release, but like the last game, a multiplayer beta was released way before its release for people to try out. Brotherhood pretty much established the core concepts of the series' multiplayer modes as it was something unique for the time compared to your everyday first-person shooter. Usually stealth-based multiplayer games don't get the attention they deserve because of the fact you have to effectively use stealth to have a chance of winning. This was the case in another famed Ubisoft franchise, which is the Splinter Cell series as its multiplayer was unique in its time, but never got the attention it deserved because people rather play something like Halo. Brotherhood basically made stealth-based multiplayer cool again and Relevations hopes to improve its faults from last time to make it something that last a while competing with other multiplayer juggernauts that are this holiday season. Even though the beta period ended and I didn't have as much time as Playstation Plus owners had, Ubisoft released the beta to everyone on its last days and I still had a good time once I was able to get the basics down.

In case you're not familiar with the concept, if I had to sum it up in a nutshell, you're basically sneaking around killing your contracts while trying to avoid opposing players assassinating you. The more stealthy you are with these kills, the more points you'll score in a match. Since the game is more about score than just reaching a certain killcount within a time limit, it is all about killing effectively while preventing others from killing you. Most of the traits and tactics from the single player game apply in multiplayer where you get more points in a kill if you're unseen from your contract, using the crowd to your advantage, and so on. The maps in this beta are quite small and in the same setting, meaning more opportunities to kill your contracts. There are ways to avoid pursuers from killing you such as stunning them if they don't see you, otherwise you'll get a honorable death (some points as they get less points since it is a contested kill), or baiting them to kill civilians. In other words, its pretty much a game of hide and seek, but you're always in danger as someone can sneak up and kill you even from the air as they jump from rooftops.

The modes are your typical conventions seen in other multiplayer games with an Assassins Creed twist. Deathmatch is pretty self-explanatory, but the team modes are quite interesting takes on your standard modes. Manhunt is a round-based variant of team deathmatch as one team pursues the other and they switch off. Arifact hunt is their version of capture the flag, so that's self-explanatory as well. The team based games often have multiple contracts to kill, so your radar of finding them is easier compared to free for all deathmatch games. Also as expected in modern multiplayer games these days, there are loadouts and perks to mess around with catering to your playstyle and a leveling up system to unlock more of those goodies along with getting awards if certain tasks were done earning more experience points. At least you when first start out, you have to play a mandatory tutorial to get accustomed with the modes, which is a nice thing to have especially for newcomers like me.

Even though I'm not that good at the game, I enjoyed my short time with the Assassins Creed: Relevations multiplayer beta in the past several days. It feels refreshing to play a multiplayer game that requires different skill and mindsets unlike your everyday shooter. Patience pays off extraordinarily well in a game like this where it is all about effectively killing your opponents, or in other words, quality over quantity in this case. If you're into a different, methodically paced multiplayer game, Assassins Creed: Relevations is worth diving into and of course there's a lengthy campaign as well in which you continue the adventures of Ezio (maybe Altair too?) in the conclusion to his story arc.

Street Fighter X Tekken at TGS

A new cinematic trailer for Street Fighter X Tekken showed up on the interwebs this morning featuring Bob and newly confirmed to be playable Rufus. It was only a matter of time these two would become bitter rivals in one game considering they have similar qualities. Also likely confirmed to be another fighter in the game is Marshall Law since the clip takes place inside his restaurant. However, these two won't be playable at this week's Tokyo Game Show (another disappointing show as far as certain games being no shows are concerned), but characters revealed from teaser trailers that have been released for the past couple of weeks, mainly Rolento, Zangief, Lili, and Heihachi, will be there in some form.

UPDATE - Here's a montage of Rolento and Heihachi's super moves in action.

Expect more stuff from TGS later this week.