I went to Microsoft’s X11 Toronto Event on August 18th. When I pulled my greedy self away from the open bar and free food, I played as many games as I could. Unfortunately, no matter how quickly I played, I was not able to get to every booth. Games like Batman: Arkham City and Skyrim I particularly regret not getting a crack at. Despite that fact, I am still able to provide a few previews for all the faithful Lusi-sprites reading.
Gears of War 3
There was an entire room dedicated to Gears of War 3. As far as I could tell, none of the stations featured a campaign mode. Instead, Epic Games appeared to be focusing on the new Beast mode. It is essentially Gears of War 2‘s Horde Mode, except now the user plays as a locust fighting off waves of humans. My companions were very quickly bored and found a way to instead access the actual Horde Mode.
We did not play for long, but I was actually intrigued. Instead of just more Nazi Zombie-esque wave-based gameplay, “Horde 2.0” is far more strategic. There are outposts scattered across the map which – once captured – unlock a wide array of defense options in the immediate area.
At the end of the day, however, Gears of War 3 struck me as just more Gears of War. Fans will dig it, but people with a general apathy for the series will not give it a second glance.
Mass Effect 3
I got to the event early to ensure that I could play this game. The demo was very action-oriented. I blasted enemies in the face, gave my party members – including Liara – commands in battle and it all ran smoothly and felt nice. That was not what I was looking for, however. I was far more curious about finding out if the game’s RPG mechanics were still watered down from the first title.
Luckily, I found a few clues. At first glance, the leveling-up screen appeared to have a few more options than in Mass Effect 2. I did not get more than a first glance, however, so I am taking that observation with a grain of salt.
A more concrete clue, however, was the weapon-modding station. The feature was not fully implemented, but the Bioware representative was quick to point out that the team put it in the demo very intentionally. He cited it as one of the steps taken to put more customization back into the series, and the developers wanted critics of Mass Effect 2‘s watered-down mechanics to take notice.
It has yet to be seen if this is an empty promise, but I was encouraged at the very least.
The only other new information I gathered was confirmation of the removal of the hacking mini-games. I – for one – am disappointed.
Final Fantasy XIII-2
I got stuck at an underwhelming Assassin’s Creed: Revelations demo and thus got less time with Final Fantasy XIII-2 than I wanted, but let me cut to the chase.
I talked to more NPCs in my 6 minutes with the demo than I did during my entire 60+ hour experience with the original game.
Although the demo took place in a linear dungeon, it had more branching paths than 90% of Cocoon’s dungeons.
Quick Time Events are never, ever fun. Ever.
Two steps forward and one step back it would seem from my brief time with the game. The menu was locked, unfortunately, so I was not able to tinker.
I was also not able to hear the music properly, but the Square Enix representative says that it already has audiences torn. The OST apparently consists of largely rap and rock music. My guess is that the soundtrack is another failed attempt to connect to Western gamers, and only fans with an appreciation for kitsch-value will enjoy the music.
Still, the game looks promising despite the OST and Quick Time Events. To drive that sentiment home, I did not see Snow once.
It looks fantastic and plays like a dream. This should be news to nobody.
What a pleasant surprise. Rayman Origins is a sidescroller with an incredibly appealing art style, but that was not what was surprising as I already knew that information from trailers. What did surprise me was that the game controlled as well as a Nintendo platformer, but held far more depth and challenge than of all them with the exception of the very difficult Donkey Kong Returns.
Approximately 5 of 50 levels were shown in the demo, and they exhibited varied environments, beautiful animation, and top-notch level design.
I was able to blast through the first level, and so the rep took me to the most difficult level in the demo, and we proceeded to die many, many times before finally beating it; without finding all three secret areas hidden in every level, mind you.
The deaths were not frustrating, however. They were fun, and I gained experience and skill each time. Even casual fans of platformers should have their eyes peeled for this one.
At the end of the day
While I had positive impressions of a number of games, the only game that I am truly excited for that is an exclusive to Xbox 360 is Forza 4. In short, the event made me excited for a number of games, but it did nothing to make me want to turn on my Xbox again.
What about you, Lusi-sprites? Do any of these games interest you? Do my impressions line-up with your expectations? Comment away!