E3 2011: Namco Booth Tour
This year, Namco has quite the collection of unique titles that I’ve had the opportunity to fudge around with. But, did they impress?
Think of Inversion, seen above, as Mass Effect 2 but with an emphasis on gravity instead of RPG elements. As far as I could tell, the only unique aspect involved with ‘gravity’ was the ability to walk on walls and ceilings while maintaining a right side up view. Why I say it’s like ME2 is the fact that you can find cover while getting trigger happy. And if you want to get crazy, you can turn on your ‘High-G’ power to unleash shockwaves or use ‘Low-G’ to levitate and snag items, enemies, objects and even balls of lava. With the small amount of time I had, I wasn’t able to adjust to the aiming sensitivity. Every button has a use and it was difficult to keep track of what does what when you’re being force fed a barrage of enemy fire (and their own gravity attacks). Also, the camera movements were very awkward due to the high sensitivity of the right analog stick. Being that it was a demo, I was unable to modify the sensitivity, though Namco’s exhibitors, who were obviously more familiar with the game, fared much better. Not much of the story was revealed by the developers, only that you’re at war with another race who enslaves humans in a setting that can either be perceived as another planet, dimension, or future Earth. In short, it just seemed like a lot of familiar ground, only without accessible camera features to guide you through the chaos. Hopefully the final release will allow players to fine-tune the controls to their preferences.
I admit that I’ve never played Demon Souls, but seeing the preview pics of bosses, including an armored warthog, piqued my interest. From research, and playing the Dark Souls demo, it would appear that there’s little difference between this title and its predecessor, including the online features of bloodstains, and leaving behind notes. The only major difference would be choosing amongst multiple character classes, each with their own abilities. I chose the Dark Knight and was looking forward to an interval of medieval ass kicking. However, the stage only offered meager skeletons and starving peasants to unleash my fury upon. I did, however, meet the warthog boss but being that it can kill you in a few seconds, even the exhibitor told me to not bother. I then tried the Dark Knight’s ability to invade a random player’s sessions, and kill said random player. I was pumped and ready to smite an unsuspecting clod… only to watch him get shot down by arrows, prompting me to return to my game. Originally, I found it difficult to doubt the potential of Dark Souls, but the bare boned demo stage and limited online interaction has caused me to begin feeling otherwise.
Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions
This is the first game I’ve played for the 3DS, and the first time using the 3DS in general. While the title contains a bundle of classic Pac-Man and Galaga titles it also includes the all new Galaga 3D Impact and Pac-Man Tilt.
I was very impressed with the new Galaga, as it greatly utilized the 3DS’s unique visual components. The game is played in a first-person view from your craft’s cockpit, so think of it as being akin to Star Fox. You tilt the 3DS to aim as you soar through 3 dimensional canyons and valleys. The 3D effects are used well, propelling the classic bug aliens at the player. The classic Galaga had these buggers move in curved patterns, now imagine them ganging up and spiraling towards you in 3D. The game also features boss fights and the ability to charge up and fire a tractor beam at your enemies for firing at point blank and stealing their energy.
Pac-Man Tilt is an example of a game that barely scratches the surface of the 3DS’s potential. The game is a platformer with pinball elements, requiring players to tilt the system in rolling Pac-Man through stages (and munching pellets and fruit, of course). Despite being a 3DS title, nothing jumped out at me, and that’s probably because the same can be said for its mundane gameplay. Overall, I’m not sure why there was a need to include Pac-Man. I would’ve been fine if it was just a Gallaga compilation.