Instead of going for the mega splash of blue strobe lights, thumping sound and a giant screen – Sony I’m looking at you. Japanese publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment opted for a “modest” approach and by modest, I mean they built a castle at GameStart 2015 to house all the awesome games they have on display- albeit it was more of foam boards and fabric than of mortar and stone.
The interior was not too shabby; they had a life sized statue of a Knight to promote Dark Souls 3, the newest addition to the Dark Souls franchise and a human sized Gundam to well…Promote the English version of Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force. They also have the latest build of Avalanche studio’s Just Cause 3 available; after seeing the two human sized statues, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t continue the trend of life sized statues by having a statue of Just Cause 3’s protagonist Rico Rodriguez, alas I digress.
Dark Souls III
The Souls series had always made be experience bouts of extreme frustration followed by pure joy when I finally learned how to duck under a giant boss or perfected the timing for a parry. The 4th iteration of the franchise did not stray far from the winning formula that brought it thus far but there were some minor tweaks that made it feel different from its predecessor. The level I played definitely had the thematic echo of the hallmarks that made Dark Souls what it is, traversing the tight never-ending corridors followed by a open arena which then forced me into fight in a tight claustrophobic room. All the while maintaining that slow methodical approach to combat; 1 mistimed roll and a quarter of your health could just disappear. Character movement in Dark Souls III have definitely improved, moving your character now feels faster and more responsive – though it hadn’t reached the agility of Bloodborne, it positively gave players more leeway when evading attacks. The game is challenging, constantly throwing you off with off camera enemies, environmental hazards and towering bosses but it never felt unfair, every death felt like it’s the fault of the player himself; it’s literally frustratingly addictive.
Just Cause 3
Fresh off disposing of a corrupt dictator in fictional South East Asia, despot disposal extraordinaire Rico Rodriguez returns for another round of dictator removal, this time he is in a fictional Mediterranean nation of Medici. Controlling Rico felt quick and smooth, I was able to quickly transition from a full sprint to a grappling shot with a single push of the trigger and take to the air with Rico’s signature parachute, all without missing a heartbeat. Jumping from a cliff, I deployed the new Wing suit before transitioning to the parachute before raining lead onto the helpless soldiers below me, not satisfied with the distinct lack of a boom, I proceeded to tether a incoming APC to a big red container and pulled them towards each other, needless to say there was a huge satisfying BOOM. The controls have been fine-tuned to allow me to create wanton destruction without needing to worry about ruining a perfectly bombastic (literally) by accidentally hitting the wrong face of a wall. Just Cause 3 was an exercise in creativity…the creativity of gratuitous mayhem.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force
Though not commonly known in the West, Gundam fighting games have been a staple in Japanese arcades for quite some time. It is the Marvel Vs Capcom of Gundams where giant robots from every Gundam series imaginable battle it out to see whose giant robot armed to the teeth bazooka/laser rifle/laser shooting drones etc will emerge victorious. Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force will be the first Gundam fighting game to be localised in English. Unlike traditional fighting games, Extreme VS Force is most commonly played in a two on two format with 4 players controlling a mobile suit of their choice, the mobile suits are controlled via a third person perspective however the camera would swap to a more dynamic perspective whenever a big attack is unleashed to give it the cinematic feel of the animes. Even though I had very little to no idea what I was doing half the time, I still had fun flying around and blasting the crap outta my opponents.
Overall its a good showing by Bandai Namco Entertainment and I do look forward to more exiciting games in 2016 from them!
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By Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2015