The Most Epic Video Game Ever

So while I was cleaning myself up for work this evening, an idea hit me for a game that transitions between genres. In essence, it would be a game that has no defining genre. Imagine the following being shown at a demonstration at E3, the Tokyo Game Show, or some other conference.

The demonstration opens with what seems to be a futuristic racing game. Heavily armored jet-tanks (think Wipeout on steroids) barrel through a jungle landscape dotted with high tech ruins. An NPC portrait appears on the screen as the player speeds through the jungle, informing them via radio to pick up “abandoned weapon cores” laying around the environment. By running over one, players acquire high powered laser/missle weapons that anihilate the opposition when fired. The NPC urges the player to “hurry and beat that bastard to the checkpoint, the safety of the world depends upon it! Use any necessary force!”

The player immediately realizes that the message told the player to throw attack after attack at their opponent. After taking enough damage, the bad guy’s vehicle suddenly explodes, but it turns out that he ejected from the seat at the last moment! The NPC on the radio tells the player to “get the hell outside and stop him from getting away!”

The player gets out of their vehicle and gives chase, quickly catching up on foot. The bad guy feels their presence and turns around. He then indicates that, “You just don’t give up, do it? Fine, let’s settle this now. Like men.”

The camera transitions out to view the two men from a side view perspective as two bars appear at the top of the screen. And then it happens…..

Round one. Fight!!

The game goes from combat racing game to what seems like a full fledged fighter! The two characters go at it, performing combos, linking moves to form chains, performing breakers and parries.. And so forth. After two rounds of highly stylized fighting, the player wins.

As those watching expect a “(CHARACTER NAME) WINS!” message to flash up, they instead witness something else.

Victory! Mission Complete!

An experience bar appears as a score that is calculated basd on performance in the race and then the fight are converted into experience points. The bar fills. LEVEL UP!

The screen fades to black and the player receives a save prompt. After saving, a cutscene plays with the player character entering what looks to be a military operations base. The NPC who previously spoke to the player in their racer is here, revealing himself to be “the General” and the guy who tells the player what to do. The General informs the main character that they may have taken one one of the evil corporation’s main henchmen, but there are still several out there. The General brings up a map, pointing to an area of structures and saying “this is where we are, in this base.” He tells the player that they have to push northwest to a research station that likely holds some valuable information that they can use against the evil corporation. The main character tells the General that he can count on him and leaves the room… And then the game loads into what appears to be an RTS map. The player takes control of the base, building structures and training units to destroy the evil corporation’s defenses near the research station. The main character, as a unit, must survive and be the one to capture the station.

After capturing the research station, the main character enters and finds one of the evil corporation’s henchmen inside. He is waving a disc and saying, “looking for this?” he escapes in a racer. The player hops in one as well, and a sequence similar to the jungle race plays out. After the player fires enough power-ups into the bad guy, his ship will appear to start exploding. The bad guy laughs and says that he isn’t going to give up and… ESCAPES IN A POD INTO THE SKY! The General orders the player to pursue! With the press of a button in the racer’s console, it turns into a flying vehicle and flies into the sky!

The camera angle shifts to the side as the player gains control of the vehicle in the air. Reinforcements from the evil corporation arrive in the form of enemy aircrafts. The player, flying forward the entire time, must shoot them down and salvage their weapons before they explode. After destroying several waves, the player finds the bad guy in a giant robot that he retreived from the evil corporation’s base. Resembling a ship at least a dozen times larger than the player, the bad guy’s ship is capable of firing huge volleys of deadly projectiles. After getting in enough shots, the bad guy’s ship begins exploding. The General begins to congratulate the player when the bad guy cuts them off with, “NOT SO FAST! I’M TAKING YOU WITH ME!” The bad guy fires one last shot before exploding. The shot hits the player’s ship as the begin to spiral out of control. The General urges the player to land safely, but it is impossible. After spinning well of course, the player makes a light crash in an abandoned area.

The player crawls out of their ship to survey the damage and see where they are. As they are examining the hull of their ship, there is moaning… Shuffling feet… The player turns and looks back and there it is! A zombie!!

Suddenly playing like Resident Evil 5, the player is tasked with getting the hell out of what appears to another research station where all hell broke loose. With each zombie killed, a “+1 XP” message flashes over the fallen corpse. Eventually the player gets to the end of the station. Just as they are about to leave, a huge zombie horde attacks! As all hope looks lost, suddenly two people burst in and push the zombies back. Allies from the command base! After defeating the zombies, they introduce themselves as Sergeant Brock and Captain Sharp. They agree to get the hell out of there with the player and then this message appears..

– BROCK AND SHARP HAVE JOINED THE PARTY –

The party then leaves. Victory! Mission Complete!

An experience bar appears once more as a score that is calculated basd on performance in the race and then the fight are converted into experience points. The bar fills. LEVEL UP!

An overworld map appears. The research station they were at is greyed out. Ahead is a sparse plain. The player selects it and enters. The game shifts to a location that looks and plays like the Archylte Steppe from Final Fantasy XIII. The player’s destination is marked on their map as they must traverse through the open wilds. If they are unfortunate enough to bump into one of the local critters, a dramatic battle transition occurs. Rather than going to an RPG battle screen, the fighting system from before returns! Brock and Sharp appear as what seems to be tag-team partners (think Marvel vs Capcom). The creatures that the player is fighting? A series of wolves! While the player has three characters to alternate between, each with diverse move sets and special attacks, the opposing force is made up of approximately twenty wolves. The player characters seem able to take about ten hits from a wolf before dying (though it would be more if they gained more levels), but each wolf can only appear to take about four or five hits. After defeating all the wolves, each character is awarded experience points based upon how much they were used and how beneficial they were in determining the outcome of the battle. The player then continues, trying to avoid as many fights as possible….

And that is as far as my imagination went. So, what did we include here?
Racing? Check.
Fighting? Check.
RTS? Check.
Retro shooter? Check.
Survival horror? Check.
RPG leveling mechanics? Check.

How would something like this be defined? What genre would it fit under? I had an idea to add in a sort of Civilization or Sim City element to this game idea as well. Would that have been overkill? No, the “playable sports league minigame/diversion from the main story” probably would be, though. Or maybe functional online multiplayer?

Okay, that’s enough. I’m stopping now, I promise.

Return to August 2010 Articles

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Tekken 6 (Review)

“Despite a few minor shortcomings, this is the best Tekken to date.”

So it has taken me half a year to finally cave and review Tekken 6. This is odd considering I picked this game up on launch and that I like it very much. This may be a good thing however, as I am reviewing Tekken 6 after clocking dozens of hours in it.

First off, what is Tekken? It is a fighting game series by Namco that has enjoyed considerable success and is, without a doubt, the most respected 3D fighter. Tekken may not be able to garner as much respect as Street Fighter, but it isn’t far off.

The Tekken games all revolve around the King of Iron Fist Tournament and the Mishima family members behind it. Originally started by Heihachi Mishima, control over the tournament and the Mishima Zaibatsu (the “family business” of sorts) has bounced around between himself, his son Kazuya Mishima, and his grandson Jin Kazama throughout the course of the series.

In Tekken 6, it is Jin Kazama who controls the Mishima Zaibatsu and is the one behind the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6. Typically the one behind the tournament is usually a bad guy, and given how Jin was the series protagonist from Tekken 3 onward, some may be confused as to why Jin is hosting the tournament in Tekken 6. Jin has his reasons for doing so, and I won’t get into them since they are quite spoiler heavy.

To find out what’s going on with Jin, players will have to play through the Scenario Campaign mode. This is a beat ’em up sort of game mode and plays like a heavily upgraded Tekken Force. In Scenario Campaign, players will play through a few dozen stages, fighting notable Tekken characters at the end of each stage as bosses and uncovering more about the game’s story after beating each stage boss.

Scenario Campaign primarily follows the adventure of two new characters, Alisa Bosconovitch and Lars Alexandersson. The game will encourage the player to use Lars as their character, though once you beat a stage boss they will become playable in Scenario Campaign. Lars then becomes sort of “optional” for Scenario Campaign, but all cutscenes will still feature him as well as Alisa.

I found Scenario Campaign to be very tedious. It wasn’t overly difficult (except for the optional secret stages) and I never died too many times. What made Scenario Campaign tedious was the fact that, overall, it wasn’t really a lot of fun. It didn’t do anything very interesting and the gameplay was mediocre at best. Despite the fact that your character controls exactly as they do in the standard fighting game modes, camera issues and hordes of AI enemies will make pulling off certain moves difficult. The only incentive to playing through Scenario Campaign, besides uncovering the story, is item collecting. At random, fallen foes will drop treasure chests which contain items for character customization. Beating stages will also grant you bonus currency that you an use to unlock new items.

Scenario Campaign really throws a lot of these items and coins at you, making it the best way to unlock items. While you may receive nearly 200,000 coins for beating a two or three minute stage in Scenario Campaign, a fight of any length outside of this game mode will regularly only net you between 2000 and 5000 coins. This makes fighting, the main focus of the Tekken games, become an unviable way to unlock game content.

Speaking of the actual fighting, I think that I should move on and talk about that. Simply put, it’s great. Tekken 6 has the best fighting mechanics in the entire series. Juggles have become more lethal, health bars have been extended, and “rage” power-up has been introduced when players are almost defeated. The changes to the juggle system, as well as bouncing becoming more prominent, has led to many people criticizing Tekken 6 and saying that all players have to do to win is juggle the opponent, since they last longer and inflict more damage now. This is just nonsense spouted by people who took the game’s features out of context. You will so rarely have trouble avoiding being juggled or beaten senseless that it isn’t an issue. I’ve had a few rounds with friends that have been a little unexplainably one sided, but this happens so rarely that it just doesn’t impact the enjoyment that we get out of this game.

Before I forget, Tekken 6 introduces an impressive six new characters to the roster, bringing the total number of selectable characters in Tekken 6 to an amazing forty characters, a huge number for a fighting game.

The new characters are probably the best crew of newcomers since Tekken 3, which was notable for introducing Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu, Hwoarang, and Eddy Gordo to the series. Tekken 6 does an equally impressive job with it’s cast of fighting misfits. Alisa, Bob, Lars, Leo, Miguel, and Zafina make up the cast of newcomers.

Alisa, mentioned earlier, is a cyborg creation made by Doctor Bosconvitch and created in the image of his daughter. Alisa is a very speedy character with several bizarre attacks which make her very unpredictable to fight against.

Bob is an overweight American who likes to fight. He is essentially a fat version of Paul in that regard, though he plays entirely different from his fellow countryman. Bob is surprisingly fast and graceful, and is sure to beat down players who underestimate him simply because of his appearance.

Lars is apparently the new poster boy for Tekken, acting as the main protagonist in this game. Lars is Heihachi’s illegitimate son who rebels against the Mishima family, intending to bring it down. He plays like a standard Mishima, but with much more flair.

Leo looks like a gender confused Rock Howard from King of Fighters. Leo is called both female and male ingame, so this can make things a little confusing. However, after using Leo once, you will be able to draw your own conclusions as to which gender this character is. Fortunately, Leo is quite beginner friendly and can kick quite a bit of ass.

Miguel is a Spanish brawler with no defined fighting style, instead opting to just beat his opponents until they can’t move any longer. Miguel is probably my favourite new character. He has a very badass look and his moves look just plain painful as he smashes opponents in really brutal ways. Stick with Miguel and learn his moves, and you will be rewarded greatly.

Zafina is weird. I could just leave it at that, but I’ll explain a little. Zafina is Tekken’s new sex appeal icon, quickly (and thankfully) demoting Lili who was introduced in Dark Resurrection. She is a Middle Eastern (or perhaps North African) assassin who fights using animal themed stances such as Mantis and Tarantula, as well as a third stance called Scarecrow. In these stances, particularly Tarantula, Zafina will bend her body in very peculiar ways and become incredibly unpredictable. I haven’t been so confused by a character since Eddy Gordo’s floppy introduction in Tekken 3.

So Tekken 6 is a great game, but what are it’s flaws? There are four, and I’m going to go over them.

Flaw #1. Character rankings work the same in Tekken 6 as they did in the previous game, meaning you will start at beginner before progressing through the kyu ranks until you hit 1st dan. Unlike Tekken 5, this is the highest rank you can reach offline. If you want to progress through the rest of the dan ranks and go even higher, you will have to play online.

Flaw #2. The second player cannot use custom costumes made in the character customization. In offline versus and team match, this can be a little annoying and, when player two selects and uses a default costumed character only to face off against player one’s Eddy Gordo with an afro and pink clothes, they just might feel a little left out. I count this as a very significant flaw because it only favours the first player and shows that Namco neglected putting much effort into local multiplayer, instead opting to make online fighting the main draw.

Flaw #3. The final boss, Azazel, is borderline ridiculous. I really enjoy difficult bosses, but only when they are legitimately difficult. Azazel’s abilities and tactics are questionable at best, and if you fight the beast without using boring and cheap tactics, then you’ll likely find yourself becoming frustrated.

Flaw #4. The graphics. Tekken 6 was originally released in arcades a whooping two years before seeing a console release. In this time span, Tekken 6 went from being a visually amazing fighter to, well, a mediocre looking one. To Tekken 6’s credit, the game does look great in motion due to the animations and stage lighting being absolutely fantastic, but the graphics are overall on the dated side.

These four flaws are actually fairly small. Character rankings really don’t even matter, the lack of 2P customization is nearly forgotten after extensive play sessions, Azazel is rarely fought, and the graphics never dip below average.

Overall, it’s an incredibly solid package and definitely my favourite fighter this generation. There’s lots to do and plenty of unlockables, and the fighting is so intense and rewarding that it never gets old. Tekken 6 is as good as the series gets, making other noteworthy entries in the franchise appear average. Tekken 6 is a Tekken like no other. If you have any interest in Tekken, then this game is a must purchase.

Final Score

9.4/10

Super Street Fighter IV (Review)

“The best Street Fighter game. Ever.”

Let me just start by saying that Street Fighter isn’t my favourite fighting game series (that honour goes to Tekken) and I’ve never been “good” at it, just kind of passably average. Just because I would be crushed in a real life or online tournament does not mean that my opinion of the game is not valid though. I may not be Daigo Umehara, but I still know the game.

Super Street Fighter IV is, of course, the upgraded version of the original vanilla SF4. Super takes the original and rebalances a few characters while adding many new features, such as ten new characters, four additional stages, the return of bonus stages, and several online features.

For the uneducated, Super Street Fighter IV is fully 3D but played on a 2D plane. People like to call this 2.5D, but I prefer to just call it 3D. If it’s rendered in 3D, then it’s 3D to me.

I am not going to get into what the original SF4 added to the series, because this review is all about what Super adds. If you want to know what focus attacks are or who Crimson Viper is, then go to 1UP or IGN since I am assuming that you already played the original SF4.

First off, Super Street Fighter IV bolsters the original roster (which I found slightly lacking) by adding ten new characters, four from Street Fighter 3, two from the Street Fighter 2 series, and then two from the Alpha series. For the curious (and making my review appear longer) the new characters are Adon, Cody, Dee Jay, Dudley, Guy, Ibuki, Juri, Hakan, Makoto, and T. Hawk.

As a casual Street Fighter fan, I found that the controls in SSF4 were better, and specials were easier to pull off. Zangief’s ultra even became fairly easy for me to pull off when it had been next to impossible in the original SF4.

Trials were also made easier, and I found myself plowing through a few of them fairly easily and enjoying it, which is a sharp contrast to how much I hated the trials in the original SF4.

Sound effects aren’t anything special, nor are they anything that you haven’t heard before. The only thing that is well above average are a few voices. Hakan’s English voice actor steals the show for me, but I still like the English voices of Cammy and Zangief the most while Chun Li’s Japanese voice fits her character perfectly.

Super Street Fighter IV looks pretty good, and the new stages are a step ahead of anything in the original SF4. Solar Eclipse has proven to be a huge hit, as a lot of people opt to go to that stage online rather than selecting random.

Overall, SSF4 is basically the same package that we received last year, only more content has been added. It almost feels like an entirely new game in the franchise with the new additions, which is hardly a bad thing. It just goes to show you that the fourth game in the series is going to age very well. If you’re a Street Fighter fan or even just a fighting game fan in general, then you should definitely check this one out.

Final Score

8.8/10