Friday, July 24, 2009

Gallery: Demon's Souls

Hands-down, one of my favorite game developers ever is From Software. I've been a huge fan of their games for close to 15 years thanks to many unforgettable hours playing their King's Field series. While the US only saw four of the seven total games released to date, the combination of Western RPG aesthetics, challenging gameplay and interestingly doomed characters (the series has a rather NPC high mortality rate) made for memorable times indeed.

Between the mighty Armored Core franchise, Chromehounds, the two stellar Xbox Otogi games and one-shot brilliance of Kuon, there's a lot to love about From's games. That love also extends to From oddities such as Evergrace/Forever Kingdom, The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, Lost Kingdoms, Enchanted Arms, cool imports such as Spriggan: Lunar Verse, Frame Gride and Metal Wolf Chaos. Not to mention the underrated Echo Night games, Eternal Ring, Shadow Tower and Shadow Tower Abyss (one of those great import-only titles that would have been an excellent addition to the US PlayStation 2 library). Of course, not every developer can have a perfect track record. Between you and me, well... We'll kind of forget about a couple of those later Tenchu games. OK?

From's latest project headed to US shores is the Playstation 3 exclusive Action/RPG Demon's Souls and it's looking like one of the best reasons to own the console this year. The fine folks at longtime fan-favorite Atlus USA wisely snapped up the publication rights and is hard at work localizing the game. Although the import version has a multi-language option, it's not just about merely translating the manual and slapping on some new cover art at all.

Atlus has a team of dedicated folks that are spending time tweaking the gameplay and mashing a few bugs here and there in order to make this one of the go-to games for Sony's console whether you crave solo or online multiplayer action. From the screenshots below, you can see From has created quite a spectacular looking game, and from the developer diaries on Atlus' website, you can clearly see that the localization team is working on making this possibly the deepest, most thrilling time you can possibly have in a virtual medieval world packed with enemies trying very hard to make you extinct.

Although the game is a third-person experience, there's a great King's Field vibe in these shots that's quite striking. It's pretty obvious to that all that hard work in creating their first groundbreaking RPG series has led up to this new groundbreaking RPG. It also looks as if From was also inspired by games such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and a bit of Blizzard's Diablo games, resulting in a PS3 title with deep customization options, weapons crafting, brutal baddies and deathtraps that can wipe your adventurer out in no time flat and much more. As for the series part mentioned above, dear reader - that's all up to you. Given Atlus' long RPG pedigree and track record of delivering hit after hit, it looks as if Demon's Souls will be an unqualified success with hardcore RPG fans looking for more than just a quick fix.

October 6th is coming up sooner than you think and I, for one can't wait to see how it all turns out. Of course, with the tag team of From Software and Atlus, how can you go wrong? Especially with either the Regular or Deluxe edition of the game - no matter which one you get... get one, I say!

Gallery: Scribblenauts Screens + Trailer

One of the games I'm REALLY psyched about this year is Warner Bros. Interactive's Scribblenauts, the upcoming Nintendo DS game by the geniuses at 5TH Cell (Drawn to Life, Lock's Quest) set to hit stores on September 16. In case you've not yet heard of it, this is absolutely one of the most crazily original games on any platform to date. Thanks to innovative gameplay that's guaranteed to keep your brain and fingers on their toes as you input words which the game translates into usable on screen objects, I'm actually much more excited about my DS than I am my 360, PS3 and Wii combined.

If there's anyone out there who thinks the DS can't do anything other than cutesy kid games, squashed-down ports of console racers and more licensed games than you can shake a stylus at, they'd probably want to put a sock in it right about now. Maxwell's going to be tearing it up this fall and the Internet will probably explode from all the YouTube videos and such being uploaded.

Anyway, let me put a sock in it and post this game trailer, which is short, sweet and spectacular.

See what I mean? Here are a few screens as well:

As noted above, Scribblenauts looks as if it's going to be keeping a lot of folks very busy and I'm certainly going to be one of them. We'll be back with more updates as they come in and a full review once the game ships.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gallery: Calling

Hudson Soft is looking to join the well-packed "scary games" truck barreling at a breakneck pace towards Wii owners looking for more substantial and varied horror experiences. Calling is the company's upcoming horror adventure that draws inspiration from Japanese Horror films such as The Ring and Ju-on along with games like From Software's Echo Night series and the underrated PlayStation 2 mystery/adventure, Shadow of Destiny, among others. Well, that's how my fevered brain deciphered this press release:

“Players will be asked to use their wits and senses to survive the world of Calling,” said Mike Pepe, Director of Marketing of Hudson Entertainment. “It is a game that revolves around real people and real emotions – no chain saws or suits of armor. The game is traditional survival horror at its finest.”

In Calling, players begin by visiting a mysterious “Black Page” website with a simple number counter. Some say it is a bridge to something sinister; the counter indicating the number of people who have died after visiting the page. It is said that people who have visited the site and witness a certain event are drawn into a mysterious space compiled of the memories of the dead - the space between life and death. Someone or something is drawing the living there for a reason, and it is up to the player to discover the horrifying truth. In order to do so, players will use various equipment including flash lights, phones, and other items to navigate and escape the Calling.

Throughout the game players will visit various parts of the Calling world. Memories of houses, schools, hospitals and more bring players closer to either an escape or an untimely death. Players will solve puzzles, search and interact with objects, and ultimately try to avoid the inhabitants of this alternative existence.

Sounds like nicely unsettling stuff - check out these early screens:

Calling has no definite release date other than a nebulous "2010," according to Hudson's site. I'll press Hudson's PR guy into a corner and haunt him for more updates every now and then. Man, the things I do for you readers...

Gallery: IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey

505 Games has announced that its upcoming (and amazing looking) WWII flight combat game IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey will hit retail on September 15, 2009 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PSP and Nintendo DS. Here's a quick rundown of the game from the press release, followed by some screens and box art:

Developed by Gaijin Entertainment for Xbox 360 and PS3, DiP Interactive for Nintendo DS and SME Dynamic Systems Limited for PSP, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey features the greatest aerial battles of the Second World War, and boasts the most realistic landscapes and aircraft seen in any flight game.
Players participate in the most famous confrontations of the era piloting fighters, battle planes or heavy bombers across a range of daring and action-packed missions. There are six theaters of war in which to engage - The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Berlin, Sicily, the Battle of the Bulge and Korsun - representing the main airborne battles of World War II in Europe. Unlock more than 40 planes, all faithfully recreated in amazing detail, and pilot them in breathtaking air battles and daring bombing runs spread over 50 campaign missions and four multiplayer modes.

From what I've seen so far, the combination of beautifully modeled classic WWII birds and the truly stunning topography just might make this the best game of its type to date. If the controls are spot-on and the multiplayer is awesome, there just might be a lot more flyboys clogging up the skies over Xbox Live or PSN this fall.

I'm super interested in the seeing how the console versions have turned out, however, both portable versions have me really intrigued in terms of how they'll look and play. Hmmm... now I'll have to review them all, I suppose...