Devil May Cry — 1Q2015 issue

Capcom’s instant action plat­form­ing classic

In pre­vi­ous install­ments of Otaku Cor­ner, I reviewed manga based on Capcom’s Devil May Cry. Ever since DMC’s arrival in 2001, it has grown from a crit­i­cally acclaimed series to writ­ten and visual adap­ta­tions in comics, writ­ten nov­els and other var­i­ous mer­chan­dise. Orig­i­nally set in the Res­i­dent Evil uni­verse, because of tech­nol­ogy restraints and an expand­ing reverse sto­ry­line from Res­i­dent Evil, the series was ported to the PlaySta­tion 2. Hav­ing enjoyed expe­ri­enc­ing the manga’s action, I won­dered if I would feel the same when I played the first DMC game? I was about to find out.

Devil May Cry has ele­ments that are sim­i­lar to Res­i­dent Evil; the only dif­fer­ence is that you will be deal­ing with super­nat­ural ene­mies instead of those who were cre­ated by uneth­i­cal sci­en­tific exper­i­ments. You assume the role of Dante, a demon hunter/investigator who uses his skills to exer­cise demons for profit and to avenge the loss of his fam­ily from said crea­tures. One night while work­ing, Dante is hired by a mys­te­ri­ous woman named Trish, who after a brief but amaz­ing test of Dante’s skill, hires him to go to an aban­doned cas­tle where Mundus, the demon who is respon­si­ble for the death of Dante’s fam­ily, is plan­ning a return from hell. Unknown to our badass hero, he has taken on a a job that starts out as an oppor­tu­nity for vengeance, but soon will unlock an ancient birthright and his true des­tiny as mankind’s newest pro­tec­tor against demonic forces.

Game­play in DMC is a com­plete 180 from Res­i­dent Evil as the bat­tle style is more melee com­bat that run­ning and hid­ing from zom­bies. I found the con­trols pretty easy to use, thanks to the ana­log sticks that allow plenty of free move­ment to jump and take full advan­tage of Dante’s sweet com­bat moves. You will love it when Dante gets to busi­ness imme­di­ately with use of his twin hand­guns that can infict dam­age rapid-fire style and his awsomely designed sword Alas­tor that can be upgraded to unlock new attacks. He also has a BIG trump card to really make the demons howl with the use of “Devil Trig­gers” (think Goku or Veg­eta going Super Saiyan with an arse­nal of weapons and being in god mode).

The graph­ics are beau­ti­ful as Cap­com devel­oped a great game engine and made great use of the PS2’s tech­no­log­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties to bring out the action with­out using the god-awful cam­era angles found in Res­i­dent Evil. I per­son­ally liked how each cutscene brought DMC’s sto­ry­line together with­out any over-the-top drama. The enemy vari­ety is good, too, rang­ing from demon mar­i­onettes to giant owls and other demonic crea­tures. I enjoyed the voice act­ing because it was not forced, flow­ing in sync with the game’s plot. I am proud to say that I would def­i­nitely replay this game when I’m feel­ing like I want to rip some demons apart.

Devil May Cry is a stand­out orig­i­nal game that is wor­thy of its praise from gam­ing crit­ics the world over. I find this another tes­ti­mony to the fact that Cap­com can do them­selves and their cus­tomers jus­tice by being true to their craft. I was pleased with my first DMC gam­ing expe­ri­ence and await more in future install­ments of this series.

Injustice: Gods Among Us — 4Q2014 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Polygon.com

Jus­tice takes a new form

There have been a few DC Comics fight­ing games that have taken advan­tage of its vari­able super­hero and metahu­man ros­ter. Jus­tice League Task Force and Mor­tal Kom­bat vs. DC Uni­verse are among those that come to mind. And because of MK vs. DC Uni­verse, brought to you pre-Midway implo­sion by the com­pany that cre­ated that step in the direc­tion of redemp­tion, DC was able to fore­see the fruits of mak­ing a decent game based on their prop­er­ties. Enter Injus­tice: Gods Among Us.

Let’s get straight to the point: Mar­vel has had the mar­ket cor­nered on fight­ing games involv­ing super­heroes for some time now, thanks to the resource­ful­ness and shady under­tones that are Cap­com. So, for Injus­tice to stand a chance in the sud­denly re-crowded fight­ing game arena, it had to be some­thing spe­cial. Thank­ing those gods among us, it is.

Injus­tice plays much like the 2011 reboot of Mor­tal Kom­bat. The com­bat sys­tem is a lot like it in tone and rhythm and the ani­ma­tion style and fram­ing is much like it as well. If you can play that incar­na­tion of MK, more than likely you’re going to be able to pick up Injus­tice and run with it in a few short hours. And much like the MK reboot, there’s much more under the pretty coat of nos­tal­gia. Injus­tice is deep, with plenty to keep the fight­ing game crowd com­ing back for more and just enough to pique the inter­est of casu­als who don’t know much about fight­ing games but want to see who would win in a Bat­man vs. Super­man battle.

That’s some­thing else that’s going to draw in even the unini­ti­ated: the name recog­ni­tion. Yes, lots of folks now know who the merry band of mutants are over at Mar­vel, but mil­lions more know the names Bat­man, Joker, Super­man, the Flash, Lex Luthor and Won­der Woman. That instant brand recog­ni­tion is what com­pels a cer­tain part of you to come back and learn more about what’s really a good game. While you might not know who Dooms­day is or why the Omega Sanc­tion is instantly fatal to most liv­ing beings, you know the names behind the main char­ac­ters for play, or at least most of them, by sight alone.

That brand recog­ni­tion plays a large part in why the game is suc­cess­ful in its mis­sion: The pack­age around it doesn’t have to be slick and beau­ti­ful, but it is. And it’s enough to make the price to play worth it. Tak­ing into account the work that Nether­Realm Stu­dios pre­vi­ously com­pleted, Injus­tice is quite the step up graph­i­cally. Every back­ground is gor­geous and lav­ish in the game that’s already beau­ti­ful from the out­set. The graph­ics step up from MK vs. DCU in a way that have to be seen to be believed. And while it doesn’t seem like the game could get any bet­ter look­ing, then there’s the char­ac­ter mod­els. Every char­ac­ter is accu­rate, down to the details from sto­ry­line arcs such as Cri­sis on Infi­nite Earths dif­fer­ences. How­ever, while the graph­ics wow, the music isn’t great. It’s not ter­ri­ble, either, but it’s not exactly turn-up-the-volume qual­ity. It’s just there, which is highly unusual for the team known for pro­duc­ing out­stand­ing sound­tracks in the MK series.

I may not be able to tell you exactly who would win in a fight between Dark­seid and Black Adam, but I can make the point that Injus­tice does the DC uni­verse quite a bit of, well, jus­tice when it comes to a qual­ity fight­ing game fea­tur­ing the Dark Knight, Boy Won­der and Man of Steel.

Which ver­sion to buy?

There are two ver­sions to choose from: reg­u­lar edi­tion and ulti­mate edi­tion. Ulti­mate edi­tion, while cost­ing con­sid­er­ably more, is the bet­ter bar­gain because it fea­tures all of the released DLC and char­ac­ter skins. It also comes with Mor­tal Kom­bat com­bat­ant and stal­wart Scor­pion as a playable character.

Titanfall — 3Q2014 issue

Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Shacknews.com

Pho­tos cour­tesy of GameSpot.com

Keep calm and pre­pare for Titanfall

Hello, pilots and wel­come to the Fron­tier. The long-anticipated Titan­fall is up for review

William Har­ri­son, GI con­tribut­ing editor

and let me tell you, I had a lot of fun with this one and so will you. It posts a few unique inno­va­tions as well as an online only style all of its own. And, of course, giant robots … every­thing is bet­ter with giant robots. The cam­paign mode is weird at first but it’s noth­ing that can’t be handled.

Titan­fall takes place in the dis­tant future and in another col­o­nized area of space. Two war­ring fac­tions, the IMC and the Fron­tier Mili­tia, are fight­ing for con­trol of their lit­tle pieces of space and the place they call home. Unfor­tu­nately, the IMC seem to be look­ing to con­trol the area under the flag of Ham­mond Indus­tries, a galac­tic wide­spread com­pany that has its hands in … well, pretty much every­thing. Then in comes the Fron­tier Mili­tia, who believe the peo­ple are bet­ter off with­out the watch­ful eye of the IMC and Ham­mond Indus­tries telling you what to do.

Titan­fall is a very impres­sive and beau­ti­fully ren­dered game. It’s cur­rently out for the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. I have it for Xbox One and it’s about the only first-person shooter that I cur­rently play. The game­play is pretty much like Call of Duty, but that’s to be expected when Infin­ity Ward closed its doors and reopened to a split in the com­pany not called Respawn Enter­tain­ment and Sledgham­mer Games. Respawn Enter­tain­ment is pretty much made up of the devel­op­ers that made the COD series sto­ries and games what they were.

The addi­tion of the Titans (25– to 30-foot-tall robots) and the abil­ity to either pilot or have the AI con­trol it makes for a new num­ber of things that can be done. There is a cam­paign mode but it is multiplayer-based, mean­ing that the story is con­trolled by the out­come of the win­ning team in some mis­sions. It only allows for 6v6 (12v12, if you include hav­ing the AI-controlled Titans on the map as well) so that the games can remain as lag free as pos­si­ble. Don’t want to ride inside your own Titan, well hop out and switch your Titan to either guard or fol­low to help hold a posi­tion or for a lit­tle backup. I must admit that I am rarely rid­ing inside my Titan when I play. They have a nice selec­tion of weapons for the pilots but only about six for the Titans them­selves, which is fine by me.

The mul­ti­player is done really well, but right now there are only seven play modes, with the sev­enth as a mash-up vari­ety pack that con­sists of all play modes on all maps ran­domly select­ing both. I believe the Xbox 360 ver­sion is miss­ing a mode or two.

Here is how I see it: Titan­fall is one of those games you hear about and think it would be awe­some if they can pull it off right. Respawn did their home­work and came up with a game that is fun and immer­sive. Unfor­tu­nately, it kind of hin­dered itself by being online only, and although the down­load needed to play it on Xbox 360 isn’t as mas­sive as the GTAV down­load (1.3 GB ver­sus 7.9 GB), it’s still a bit annoy­ing. How­ever, you don’t have to delete data to play. A match­mak­ing option that puts you with peo­ple in the same skill level would be a nice idea, too. If you haven’t played it, then you should def­i­nitely “Pre­pare for Titanfall.”

Metroid Prime — 2Q2014 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of GameSpot.com

The return of Samus after 8 years is welcome

As a long­time fan of the Metroid fran­chise, I sup­pose I could be for­given for not mak­ing the imme­di­ate leap onto the Prime band­wagon. After all, Super Metroid is my bea­con of hope still shin­ing for 2D games, a sym­bol of the pin­na­cle that the genre reached. I mean, I plan to name my first­born daugh­ter Samus. That’s how much I love Metroid. So, when Prime hit the shelves, I was duly skep­ti­cal. It had been eight long years with­out so much as of a whiff of Samus’ scent in the mar­ket of solo games and I was starv­ing. Enter Prime.

Prime isn’t so much a pure Metroid game as it is a com­bi­na­tion of Metroid and first–per­son shoot­ers of the day. What you need to know to under­stand Prime is that it’s set between Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus, and it’s the first real game in the series to start putting the pieces of the Metroid saga together. Samus roams around Tal­lon IV to uncover the past of the Chozo (her care­tak­ers after the death of her par­ents in a Space Pirate raid), and takes on the vil­lain­ous group, who are con­duct­ing bio­log­i­cal exper­i­ments on the planet. That’s the meat of the story essen­tially, but it mostly means that you’re going to do some explor­ing. This being Metroid and all.

The first-person con­trols could have been haz­ardous to the game’s health but they aren’t. They’re actu­ally sim­ple to use and sur­pris­ingly easy to get used to even if you’re inti­mately famil­iar with Super Metroid’s setup. My main con­cern was how does Samus’ action trans­late to the first-person mold? Can she still move around flu­idly? And, how is the action han­dled when she has to switch to Morph Ball mode? All of these ques­tions were imme­di­ately answered with a sim­ple playthrough. Action is fluid and move­ment is clean and paced well. There are no prob­lems with switch­ing modes, and I rather liked how that is han­dled. It’s almost as if some­one on the devel­op­ment team at Retro Stu­dios remem­bered what it was like to imag­ine you were Samus in the Varia Suit.

I appre­ci­ated the atmos­phere of Prime, con­sid­er­ing that if a game is to be called Metroid in any way, it must have the “Metroid atmos­phere.” I cer­tainly got that as I mean­dered through maze-like cav­erns with fore­bod­ing music play­ing gen­tly in the back­ground. What I appre­ci­ated about the sound­track mostly was the use of old themes to tie the games together. You can tell you’re play­ing a Metroid game if you lis­ten hard enough, and I liked that the issue wasn’t thrown in my face con­stantly. I didn’t need to be hit over the head repeat­edly that this is a Metroid tale, and the music was polite about remind­ing me.

My only prob­lem with Prime is that while it feels like a Metroid game should, I wasn’t that immersed in the tale. Every Metroid game released up to this point, I played through and was engaged thor­oughly. Prime? I really couldn’t get into the story that much, and I didn’t really care all that much about the Chozo. I real­ized that because of the way Metroid ends, Samus can’t really go back to the Mother Brain issue. How­ever, Prime just struck me as boring.

Prime was the start of a good thing, obvi­ously, since there are two sequels and a host of spin­off games. What I was most pleased with, how­ever, was the fact that Samus returned in top form. It was about time. Eight years was way too long to go with­out using some ver­sion of the “Metroid instinct.”