Poll: Dualing Exclusives: Killzone 2 vs. Halo Wars

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On Friday, February 5th, Sony will launch an exclusive Demo for the platform exclusive Killzone 2, available only on the Playstation 3, and downloadable from the Playstation Store. Microsoft, on the same day, will release via Xbox Live their demo for the console exclusive game Halo Wars. Who will pull in more downloads?

Ninja Blade Demo Impressions

I recently had a little hands on time with the Ninja Blade demo. Several other websites are all doing the same, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time before a demo comes to the united State Xbox Live Marketplace. I hope others get to try this game before they buy. I just wanted to provide a very short summary of what I found.

Graphically, the game is stunning. It uses concentrated camera angles, thus forcing much of the 360’s power into tight frames, making sure it looks good, and still plays smooth as silk. The combat engine makes the game a lot of fun. “Special moves” included, you can pull of some flashy looking combos with ease. The level design is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Some games like to bring in the “veritcal” aspect of levels, but none have done it in this scale. You literally RUN down the side of the building, pulling off movies that you would expct to see in a Jet Li movie!

The game flows seemlessly from one segment to another, and the voice acting is on par with some of the better titles lately. It might not be the best I’ve heard, but it certainly adds to the environment you’re placed in. It appears as though the story was actually given a bit of thought, as well. For me, that’s a make-or-break detail. The game is set in the not-too-distant future, in a time when the Japanese government has created a Ninja Strike force to combat some kind of mutant or alien menace. You are the best that team has to offer.

The game uses “the Simon system,” as I call it. A series of commands you need to mimic, as seen in countless games these days, from Indigo Prophecy to Spider-Man 3. I have a tendancy to shy away from those games, I’m frustrated by my own poor reaction time! But this game leaves response ample time, making it a bit mre enjoyable for someone like me!

Overall, it’s the kind of game that if I saw it in the store, I wouldn’t be buying it. Until I tried the demo. The demo for Ninja Blade is a fantastic selling point, and I sincerely hope they bring it to other marketplaces, so that others can try this game that they may be a bit hesitant to buy.

Preview: Turok demo

As the United States finally gets a chance to play The Club demo, WinBreak has finally obtained our demo version of Turok. We enjoyed this (very) brief look at the game, and here are our first impressions.

Let’s begin, as Lewis Carroll had said, at the beginning. The game gives you a paragraph of back story, then drops you into a cave. Essentially as meaningful as the plot I recall from the Nintendo 64 version of the game, putting you into a comic book, or a dream, or a bolt of lightning… okay, I admit, I’ve forgotten, over the years. Still, here in the demo, you get essentially nothing but game play – let’s hope the retail game is a little more interested in making you can and uderstand why you’re fighting both humans and dinosaurs.

The game has interesting play mechanics. It is, of course, the traditional first person shooter… but a bow and arrow can make you a deadly assassin. This powerful yet silent weapon is certainly to be feared, as you rampage through this level of caves and jungle, killing man and animal alike. Something that I noticed and was quite impressed by was how herbivores had a tendancy to leave you alone, unless provoked, and even the most docile animals will attack you if you destroy their eggs. Quaint details.

The weapons I have quickly gotten my hands on so far include a shotgun with an alternate fire of shooting flares, and an assault rifle of sorts, which includes a silencer. These can be dual wielded and assigned to either hand, for dominant-finger-trigger-domination. Fend off reptiles with the rapid-fire shotgun while long-shooting those mood-goggle wearing bad guys. Whoever they are.

The AI can be a little annoying. Wandering around, useless, then all of the sudden snapping to attention, and leading the way, like they’ve known where the exit was the whole time, and were really just kidding when they said they were affraid of the dark. Then, you’ll get to a point, and they’ll stop like the invisible wall infront of them just gave them a concussion, and it will be your turn to lead the way. But you have to get a good distance ahead before they’ll start following again – if you turn around, they might as well stare at you like a cocker spaniel. They won’t start walking again until you cross another invisible line. It’s a tad annoying, and very unrealistic – they should’ve called up Microsoft and asked about Gears of War, and believable squad AI.

The already well known Unreal 3 engine does not disappoint. Graphics are stunning, though, at times, a little lack luster. Creeping through grass, you get to watch blades and branches bend down infront of you. But they’re still very sprite based, and look the same from any angle. The textures on most objects are still amazing, but I think we can thank Epic studios for that. The sounds are impressive, and quite helpful… you can tell when an enemy soldier is splashing through the water. You will know enough to stand still behind the rock you’re using for cover. The voice acting (a pet peeve of mine) is neither awful nor superb, which already makes it far better than most games I’ve played.

So far, the demo seems kind of ho-hum, so-so. Like it’s been done before. But let me tell you where this game shines. Two points. First, melee combat. Creep up behind someone and do a silent kill with a knife. It’s always a good time! Give it up for… Native American Army Space Marine Combat Training! Or something. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I don’t need a story line, or cheap weapons, or a super fast shotgun… as long as I can slit the throats of every dinosaur that tries to sneak up on me. A quick dodge and a tap of the right trigger, BAM! A third person view of me, doing in a creature three times my size, with ease. It never gets old! And I can’t wait for others to get their hands on my game, so they can understand my “no dino too cute” policy. Knife’em all!

Second, the game can, at times, give you a genuine sense of helplessness and panic. While the caves never made me feel claustrophobic (more just lost in the dark), I was actually more impressed with the flood of raptors that happened at one point. I was in a large circular clearing in the jungle. The problem with that large clearing? Dinosaurs could come from any angle. And they did. After killing them all off, I still sat in the center, pivoting, and spinning, unsure if more would come out of the tall grass. Was that a gentle breeze, or a scaled killing machine? You turn in circles, wondering what will come next, and a genine sense of fear may rush over you. It’s quite fun!

So, there’s a little of what to expect, if the game does come to the U.S. Hopefully you get a chance to experience it before it launches, though. If nothing else, the exit screen of the game says you should be able to get busy decimating dinosaurs as early as February 5th.

Preview: The Club demo

A while ago, we shared with you that the demo for The Club had been delivered to Microsoft. Little did we know that the game would be released to many other countries before we got it. Well, according to ads on the marketplace, in the next three days the demo should launch in the United States, if not all of North America.

I was able to get my hands on the demo a couple of days ago and have been playing it. I have been looking forward to this game the first video I saw of fast paced shoot’em up.

The game reminded me of playing Doom all over again. I mean, the original. I couldn’t wait to play The Club, because it looked just like the rapid pace first person shooters used to have. Suddenly you were able to play through the game at a rapid pace, beat a level in a matter of seconds, 2 minutes tops.

The Club brings this feeling back. As we all know, there is a point system, which rewards you for fast paced killing, as well as finesse. Headshots, shots from great distances, well timed shots, shots after dodging or rolling. The only playable character in the single player demo is Renwick (the cop). A good all ’round character, and well balanced. The game puts you into the setting of the Newhaven Prison Cells (one of eight locations where you’ll be able to take the fight). You are then presented with two of the in game missions available for that level. One is a simple ‘sprint’ objective, entitled “Escape from Newhaven.” The goal here is to achieve a target score (among 4 different difficulties, Casual, Reckless, Insane, and Real) of 61,000 to 6,000,000. The other event is Time Attack (called “Doin’ Time”). With this you have a target score of 35,000 to 6,100,000.

Timed Mode, here, gives you a set course, where you have to do a specified number of laps before the timer runs out, killing all the way. If you fail to do so, “the micro explosives you have been injected with will detonate” in rather anti-climactic fashion. The clock starts with 30 seconds and you can add time by killing (3 seconds), and collecting five second time bonuses throughout the map.

Multiplayer, as exciting as it sounds in the marketplace advertisement, is limited to local split screen multiplayer. The the in game menu tells that play over Xbox Live and systemlink will both be allowed.

The multiplayer game mode is Hunter-Hunted. We gave it a shakedown here at WinBreak Central Command. The game play is very interesting. Much like oddball, Hunter-Hunted mode is a game where the first person to make a kill becomes “the hunted.” The hunted achieves a point counter on his or her screen. This point counter increases rapidly until one player achieves 15,000 points. The hunters each want to kill the hunted for their share of the points. First to 15,000 wins. After thoroughly getting my butt handed to my by our resident console-hater, I called it a night and went back to writing.

All in all, I’m very excited for this game. Game play (so far) seems pretty bug free, but that’s a hard thing to determine, as I found out wit Blacksite: Area 51, a game I thought would turn out to be way better, until launch day when I paid for it.

Graphically The Club is very pleasing. Framerates never stutter, which is key to the atmosphere this game is setting up. The environments are well detailed and little extras, such as furniutre in rooms that can be knocked over when running by, are nice little details. The sound is nothing spectacular, but it doesn’t detract from the game either, save for the Quake III Arena announcer voice.

While the bottom of the screen constantly reminds you that it is a “work in progress and should not be considered as representative of the quality of the final product” I wouldn’t worry too much about it getting worse. If nothing else, the game will be long. If each of the eight locations has six events, and each of those has four difficulty settings… and you want to play through with all eight characters. It could be the only game you have to buy in 2008.

So, this is what you can expect in the demo coming in the next few days, and let’s hope it’s a fair representation of the final game. It might not be on everyone’s must have list, just yet, but I have a feeling that fast paced addiction is going to take a lot of gamers by surprise.

The Club demo coming to XBLM, soon!

One of my most anticipated games this year, The Club, has pushed their demo out to Microsoft, and is pretty much just waiting on them to officially put it on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

I have hoped this game would be as exciting as it looks, this will be our chance to see if it’s really worth dropping the cash. I love when demos hit before the games go retail!

The launch of The Club will also be a very proud achievement for the Bizarre boys… they will have successfully launched a game in yet another genre, as if casual games, rhythm games, and racing games weren’t enough! They are really turning into one well rounded studio, and have certainly done everything right by the fans so far. Let’s hope The Club is no exception!