Games to come

  • Technology
  • Monday, 01 Oct 2012

COLOURFUL DISPLAY: A visitor at TGS 2012 looking at the new PS Vita colour options.

StarBytz walks the Tokyo Game Show floor to catch the highlights of the gaming world. By TAN KIT HOONG

This year’s Tokyo Game Show (TGS) featured a line up of games from various Japanese publishers that are more likely to be of interest to gamers not just in, but outside of Japan.

The reason being that many of the games have English localisation planned and will be released internationally in the next year or so.

Amongst these are Sony Computer Entertainment/Marvelous AQL’s Soul Sacrifice for the PlayStation Vita, Platinum Games and Kojima Productions’ Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for the PS3, NetherRealm Studios’ Injustice: Gods Among Us and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.

Konami also had a playable version of the classic PlayStation2 mech game, Zone of Enders, now up scaled and renamed Zone of Enders HD for the PS3.

Companies like Capcom and Level 5 showed off games on various platforms.

Most notably, everyone’s favourite defence lawyer, Phoenix Wright, will be back in not one but two games in the near future, with Capcom producing Ace Attorney 5 and Level 5 collaborating with Capcom on Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney.

Capcom’s largest and probably most popular booth, however, has to be the Monster Hunter 4. It had a playable demo of the game available on the Nintendo 3DS and gamers lined up for 40 minutes to an hour to play.

Talking about hardware, there were quite a few interesting announcements, mostly from Sony, showing off the new “Super Slim” PlayStation3 and two new colours for the PS Vita.

Although Nintendo does not participate at TGS, publishers like Namco Bandai had the Nintendo Wii U console available for users to try games like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Tank! Tank! Tank!.

Here are a few interesting tidbits from our time at TGS.

Cross Play

With many announcements from major console makers about second screen technology (Microsoft with Xbox SmartGlass, Nintendo with the Wii U) it’s easy to forget that Sony has had a similar technology inherent in the PlayStation3 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) (and now the PS Vita) for some time.

However, with the PSP, the feature was under-promoted and under-utilised by third-party developers.

“The problem with a feature like Remote Play on the PSP was that the resolution and single analogue stick of the PSP was not really suitable for playing a PS3 game remotely,” said Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer’s Worldwide Studios.

With PS Vita’s increased resolution, hardware performance and dual analogue sticks, the concept of having the PS3 and the handheld console working together is now more feasible.

Upcoming games from Sony will have Cross Play features that will allow the PS Vita to work together with the PS3 in a number of interesting ways, not limited to just running a compatible PS3 game on the PS Vita to play on the go.

Yoshida envisions a number of new concepts for the PS Vita, such as Cross Goods, Cross Buy and Cross Controller in addition to the Remote Play feature established in the PSP.

At a press event, Yoshida showed off what can be done with the upcoming Cross Controller feature for owners of Little Big Planet 2 (a game that also allows you to buy it once and play on either PS3 or PS Vita).

Little Big Planet 2’s Cross Controller feature allows a second player to use the PS Vita to assist the player using the PS3.

The player using the PS Vita is able to follow along with the action and see dangers hidden from the other player and has to verbally guide him or her. Sony is set to release five game titles next year which will take advantage of Cross Play or Remote Play feature, such as Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, Xbox 360)

Journalists were also treated to a look at Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

With this offshoot of the Metal Gear series, Platinum Games went for a much more action-oriented game with the cyborg Raiden as the protagonist.

In the demo, Platinum Games representatives showed off a few interesting new moves apart from the sword slicing game mechanic that was established when the game was announced earlier.

One of the features is a so-called Ninja Run, where the player only needs to push the analogue stick forward and Raiden will automatically jump over obstacles and other objects.

The demo also showed off an AR Mode display, similar to that found in Batman: Arkham City where the player can turn on Raiden’s AR Mode to highlight enemies and obstacles to find the best way to attack.

Rising also sees a departure from normal Metal Gear Solid games in that stealth is not as important a component in the game, according to Atsushi Inaba, producer and executive director of Platinum Games.

Injustice: Gods Among Us(PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U)

NetherRealm Studios, the developers of the Mortal Kombat series, also had a new game to show off at TGS, namely Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game featuring many DC Comics characters.

In a guided playthrough of Injustice, Shaun Himmerick, vice-president of NetherRealm Studios, talked about how the company wanted to give the game a cinematic feel by having destructible background environments that allowed fighting to move to different areas.

“One of the things we wanted to have is background interactivity. For example, when characters damage power cables in the environment, the exposed live cables can be a danger zone where characters can be thrown into to deal more damage, or for characters to avoid,” said Himmerick.

There’s also a lot of fan service for DC fans — for example, in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, you can see various items from Superman’s history, such as the rocket ship that transported him to Earth as a baby.

Of course, like all fighting games, each character has different abilities and different moves depending on character type — for example, Batman is a gadget user and can throw exploding batarangs, while The Flash is focused on speed and quick attacks.

According to Himmerick, NetherRealm Studios wants to include over-the-top super moves which can be executed once a character builds up a power meter.

In the example that Himmerick showed off, The Flash’s super move literally had the Scarlet Speedster run around the world to build up momentum for his super punch, which raised a laugh from the audience.

The fighting itself is intentionally kept much simpler than a traditional fighting game, to make it more fun and accessible to casual players.

As for what DC characters will be in the game, Himmerick said that there are currently more than 20, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash, but there will be “some characters that people won’t expect.”

Gods Among Us is slated to be released in April next year.

Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita)

Keiji Inafune is no stranger to gamers — he is well known for co-creating and producing such famous games as Megaman and the Dead Rising series.

At TGS, Inafune was talking up his latest game, Soul Sacrifice, which is a co-production between SCE Japan Studio and Marvelous AQL.

Soul Sacrifice, which will be an exclusive title for the PS Vita, puts players in a fantasy world where sorcerers hunt monsters of all kinds.

Yes, it sounds like a certain other monster hunting series on another platform, but Inafune assured us that the gameplay and concept will be quite different.

Chief amongst the differences is the idea of “sacrificing” or “salvaging” not just the monsters that you fight but also team members or even your own character (this game allows for up to four PS Vita owners to play co-operatively).

For example, monsters that you defeat can be sacrificed to increase magic attacks or they can be “salvaged” to build up energy.

Things get interesting in that players can also choose to sacrifice themselves or their teammates as well to increase the team’s magical attacks to defeat certain difficult bosses.

Once a teammate dies, he will remain dead for the duration of the mission and exist only as a spirit.

However, although they are spirits, teammates can still influence the game by acting as scouts or by touching opponents to temporarily lower their defences.

Soul Sacrifice is due to be released in Japan in the Spring of 2013 for the PS Vita. Although there has been no concrete word on whether there will be an English localisation for the game, Inafune says he’s confident that there will be one at some point.

The Last of Us (PS3)

TGS wasn’t only about Japanese games. At a press conference, journalists were also treated to a walkthrough of The Last of Us.

For those who don’t know, The Last of Us is a PS3 exclusive title from developer Naughty Dog, the famed developer of the Uncharted series.

The game is a twist on the zombie genre, which follows protagonist Joel as he escorts a young girl named Ellie out of a country ravaged by a fungus that takes over the brains (and consequently the behaviour) of the infected.

According to Arne Meyer, community strategist at Naughty Dog, the developers intended to make a game that was at once beautiful and yet brutal in the way that the protagonists in the game have to react to survive.

While the demo that Meyer showed off at TGS was essentially the same one that we saw at E3, we did get a few interesting tidbits of information.

One of the features of the game is a scavenging system where the player will be able to pick up various items and use them individually or combine them to turn them into weapons or other useful items.

For example, a bottle of fuel and a piece of cloth can be turned into a molotov cocktail, or if needed, the cloth can be used as a bandage.

“We aren’t done with the scavenging system yet — right now you can already pick up a variety of items including guns, pipes and other items, but we are still playing around with just what types of items you can pick up and combine,” said Meyer.

One thing that struck us was how truly beautiful the environments in the game are.

Although it is essentially based on the same Naughty Dog engine as used in the company’s Uncharted series, Meyer said that there were numerous tweaks and enhancements that the The Last of Us team made to customise it for the game, such as in the area of sound, lighting and the ability to pick up and combine items.

From the playthrough that we saw at TGS, we have to say that The Last of Us is looking really good.

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