I haven’t been this excited about a game since… Kid Icarus Uprising? OK, not exactly a long time ago, but From Software seems to have taken Demon’s Souls and turned it into a Western-RPG slaughtering monster.
Promises include an open world without a decent map system (hoorah for exploration!), the same frighteningly accurate difficulty and a non-existent class-system forcing you to shape a character from scratch.
It’s also set to be released this year. In other words it’s GOTY. It just has to be.
I suddenly remembered I still had to download Limbo.
A one-and-a-half hours later I seem to have accumulated a score of ’70′, which for some reason my brain automatically interprets as a completion percentage. It might be right.
Whatever the case, Limbo is excellent. In a way it feels like it’s the sequel to Another World (or Out Of This World, if you prefer): you are constantly pushing the boundaries of your environment and skills, trying to figure out the way forward. Sometimes it even likes to take the way backward, leading to some very clever stuff indeed.
It also manages to not frustrate, which is rare for a game that seems hell-bent on making you suffer through endless trial-and-error sequences. Quick restarts after death and sensibly placed checkpoints, make the game work in ways that tickle the brain. Even more rare is how the game sensibly uses timing and pin-point accuracy as solutions without making you doubt your judgment.
There’s little to criticize here. Certain mechanics are repeated a few times, but it’s hard to be negative about those instances as they are used very cleverly yet again. The game’s price of 1200 MSP might be its biggest problem; it’s relatively high for something that acts and looks like a retro-game.
Hopefully people can look past that, but I fear most will forget about downloading Limbo altogether.
“This is not the greatest Metroid in the world. This is just a tribute.”
There's a hidden gold bar in this room, you know.
Shadow Complex for Xbox Live Arcade couldn’t be more of a love-letter to Nintendo’s venerable action-adventure even if it tried. From the moment you are handed the reins, it’s like you’re back in Super Metroid‘s Crateria area descending into a hidden base of unknown technology again. And for the most part, the game manages to keep that vibe strung throughout itself.
At the same time, it does become very apparent that developer Chair isn’t exactly the same team as Nintendo’s R&D1. As a matter of fact, my recent observations of Metroid Prime, seem to have found their logical conclusion in Shadow Complex. Start on normal and the amount of hand-holding becomes almost ridiculous, robbing the game of its maze-like intestine-structure. Instead, it becomes a game of trace-the-dots rather than connect-the-dots.
The Avatar editor for the Xbox 360 comes nowhere near the intricacies of the Mii Channel, but with some effort you can create a ‘North American’ version of yourself.
I had more fun discovering a few of the easter eggs while in the editor:
-Press the Right Stick to make your Avatar burp.
-Use the Right Stick to pull your Avatar’s head back then quickly flick it forward; your Avatar will ‘bump its head against the screen’.
Your Avatar will be momentarily dazed after the last action, allowing you to take a rather confused Gamerpic mugshot.
As for the rest of the NXE: it is very pretty and the open atmosphere it evokes is rather pleasant. Sadly, the crucial menus are in essence the same as in the old Blades interface. Also, getting access to your Game Library is buried too deep in my opinion. Especially when trying to play a game that’s not in your Recent Games list.
It also seems riddled with minor inconsistencies. The Triggers and Bumpers seem to switch function at random; use Right Trigger in the top menu and you will be zapped to the Spotlight menu, while the Bumpers are used to Page Up and Down through lists. However, when in certain detail menus (like your Game Library), the Triggers take over the Page Up and Down function.
Sadly, that gives the NXE a slightly ‘Vista-ish’ taste. Like the operating system, you are better off learning controls for individual menus, rather than learning an all encompassing set. Being able to access menus from multiple spots also wreaks havoc on your mind-map of the interface.
If Microsoft can fix those niggles and give a better sense of where you are in the menu at any given time, NXE can become an even stronger addition to the 360 experience.
Dwindling on the subject of Player-VS.-Player forms for MMO’s with a colleague last week, we took a look at some of the currently available forms.
One of the forms that stuck into my mind, was that of Chrome Hounds, a mecha game by From Software, that let players gain control of certain areas by scoring points during missions situated there as a freelancer. Being able to gain resources and shift alignment across a persistent three-way conflict proved very good, though the main game mechanics could not entice the common public.