Friday, February 3, 2012

PSN Demo Showcase (Part I for the week of 1/31)

This week's PSN Demo Showcase is a two parter as I will discuss the demos for Syndicate and Binary Domain. Twisted Metal and Starhawk will be on part two of this early next week. A shooter-heavy dose of stuff came out this week for PSN folks to try out since the Q1 game release season is starting to pick up now.

First up is an online co-op only demo for Syndicate, another EA published game and developed by Starbreeze. Demos having only online co-op is a tough thing to sell, but Starbreeze is hoping this release will do its job making people play that besides the main campaign on February 21. This is a modern/futuristic shooter at its core with some nice gadgets to mess around with when playing alone. When playing co-op though, it felt like shooter number 69 with a level progression system to get upgrades, conventional upgrades, and loadouts despite having little details to separate itself from the pack. This demo is four players and only one map as it could be old pretty quick, but your experience depends on being able to play as a team with other players online. The HUD is very futuristic with the ammo count being blasted in your face, but the small fonts with other things can be a problem as it is pretty microscopic at times. This is not the first time small fonts have an issue with games, but it is a recurring trend this console generation. Teamwork is a key part of the co-op as going in guns blazing will not get the job done, which is generally the case with games like this. Teammates might need help healing and rebooting when in trouble as its easy to do once you're near them. The shooting feels fine as I rocked the default assault rifle most of the time even though the action is very fast paced as if I don't know what the hell is going on sometimes letting my teammates do the work. The game looks okay too despite the fact it runs at 30 frames per second for a fast paced shooter. Despite that, Syndicate's co-op seems solid, but I'm more interested how the campaign will play out. At least talking about this demo gives me a reason to put up that Skrillex trailer again (wubwubwubwub).

The other shooter to discuss today I played is the Binary Domain demo, which I got from the Japanese Playstation Store (also on Japanese XBLM). Binary Domain is a third-person squad-based shooter by Sega and the Yakuza team. I think this is the Yakuza team's first non-Yakuza game and no surprise that is a shooter. It has the elements of a modern shooter these days with cover, over the shoulder aiming, and squad commands. Being that I got from Japanese PSN, the demo is definitely Japanese, so I didn't understand what in the world the characters were saying and some of the tutorial stuff at first. The squad commands can be also be done by a headset if you have one, which I do but I haven't tried it personally yet. You play as the squad leader and pick between your squadmates at the start of the level, which is for this demo are not long to beat (there are two levels to play through in this demo). Besides all of what I said so far, Binary Domain is yes, just another shooter in terms of control and options you have, but its made by the Japanese and the Japanese flair is there in terms of the enemies you face. The foot robot soldiers are unoriginal even though there are different types of them as the red ones are fast and tough to defeat. The bigger boss-like enemies though are a different beast from big normal looking robots to monkey-looking ones. Since its made by the Yakuza team, the game looks good, but very similar to those games as the environments can be pretty bland. Binary Domain definitely has some potential to be a decent Japanese third-person shooter and arguably better than that being the best one to come out from that country.

That is it for now as I need more time with the multiplayer demo of Twisted Metal and the public beta for Starhawk (had a code when I bought Uncharted 3), so expect impressions of those in the coming days.