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News: Macross Trial Frontier Hands-On Impressions

Posted on : 12-10-2010 | By : | In : News

Hardware:

4

What with the Blu-Ray of the recent Macross Frontier movie released a few days ago, we’ve managed to have a play on the game packaged along with it. Entitled Macross Trial Frontier, it’s been developed by those wonderful people at Artdink and as you’d expect it plays almost identically to their last Macross PSP game, Macross Ultimate Frontier. It is also very clear that the “trial” in the title belies the fact that this is only a demo and that a full fledged PS3 game is very likely in the near(ish) future. In any case, the quality of this “demo” is impressive and to package it along with the movie was a shrewd move on the part of Bandai. For those that are curious, Trial Frontier also utterly walks all over the recent ACE:R and shows that Artdink really know what they’re doing when it comes to Macross. The impressions are after the jump…

If you’ve not played Macross Ultimate Frontier, then the following will be stuff you already know. As the game is not really a flight combat focused per se, as Artdink are coming at the controls from a mecha perspective (on account of their earlier Gundam Battle games experience and tech). This means that whilst you can fly around, the game expects you to lock-on to enemies (with R1) and then orbit around them in one of your variable fighters three modes.

Missiles still retain the same properties from Ultimate Frontier; so the lock colour/tracking efficiency linkage depends on your orientation to the enemy prior to firing. You also have multiple weapon types you can scroll through for the various variable fighters. From the anti-missile chaff setup to the basic handling, it’s all there from the PSP games but far prettier.

Upon completion of the initial selection of missions, harder versions are unlocked (though you can scroll between the two types by pressing L1 + R2 + Start). Whilst there aren’t that many missions, there are a fair few units for the main roster of mecha from the Frontier series and movie. With the added YF-25 Prophecy added in for good measure.

The only telling absence from Trial Frontier is the lack of ground based missions, as these were an important staple in the PSP games. So it’s pretty clear their animation or collision systems haven’t been written to handle terrain yet on the PS3. Considering the amount of content you’re getting for free alongside the movie though, this is somewhat of a moot issue.

There were only two real issues we had with the game really; like the PSP games the transformation is handled on the analogue stick (specifically the right stick now). This made transformation a little unwieldy as our muscle memory wasn’t used to the placement and we kept trying to transform by letting go of the directional/movement (left stick) input to transform (as this is what you do on the PSP versions). With practice this wasn’t that much of a real issue though. However, the messaging on missile and gun impacts was almost non-existent in places. Not that there wasn’t clear HUD cues for incoming missiles as well as enemy tracer fire, but the actual impact of shots (and subsequent damage incurred) wasn’t clear – to the extent that in some instances we were surprised by the amount of damage inflicted on our variable fighter.

These gripes aside, this is still a very impressive effort. As a small developer known for their recent PSP expertise have totally nailed the graphical benchmark for a PS3 game. To the extent it makes the recent ACE:R look pretty rough around the edges. It’s also obvious, from a sheer investment point of view, that this must be a portent for a full blown PS3 game later down the line or at the very least a new Artdink mecha game using the same tech. Either way, From Software et al now have their work cut out for them if they want to keep up.

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Take note: Trial Frontier doesn’t create save data, so once you’ve turned the console off you’ll lose your progress (not that this should be an issue as the game is pretty tiny anyway).

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Comments (4)

That’s cool to find out. I was expecting a whole PSP game on there with rezzed up art. Much better to know it’s more of a demo beforehand.
Looks nice though -looking forward to a full game.

That is fantastic news!

I hope that they follow through with this and develop a full blown PS3 title from this!

Out of curiosity, what units are selectable in this demo? Also: does the Macross DVD have english subtitles by any lucky chance?

I’d like a Macross game that covers all eras, has sandbox gameplay, and allows you to handle mecha like real vehicles rather than jerky arcadey models. The graphics here look nice but will they make you feel like piloting a transformable fighter jet-robot hybrid? This looks like another Japanese style-over-substance points grinder game where all you do is mash the same sequence of buttons several times until you reach the end. That’s how I blazed through Ace Frontier. And felt a sense of boredom afterwards.

Just imagine if you will: Liberty City or something like it encased in a gigantic spaceship shell and Niko Bellic or some other person hopping into a parked VF and taking off, flying past the outer space gate and floating off into deep space where everything else is. Wouldn’t that be such a great game idea if something close to that was implemented?

[…] ne sais pas si je peux vraiment considérer Macross Trial Frontier comme un jeu à part entière, étant donne qu’il s’agit de l’hybrid pack sorti […]

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