News: Tokyo Game Show 2014 Report
First off, apologies for the lack of updates. Things have been pretty bizarre as of late and have only just started to somewhat calm down. In addition, there aren't that...
The much anticipated open beta for Hawken starts today. We’ve been playing the game since the closed test phases and it’s truly an impressive and fun mecha game. So there’s no excuse whatsoever to not check this game out, especially if you regard yourself as a discerning mecha gaming connoisseur. Make sure you have an account set-up for when the game goes live to the public later today. The new trailer below is a fair representation of what the game looks like when running, minus the dubstep and slow motion stuff obviously.
We’ve been meaning to post our impressions on Hawken since the NDA was lifted for the closed alpha and beta testers (of which we were one). As we’ve been quite busy, it took us a while to get around to this. Whilst we’ve had all manner of weird PR about the game trying to make out it isn’t a mecha game, the truth is that this is very much an old school hardcore mecha game (in the best possible sense). What follows are our impressions from playing the alpha and beta builds.
A gameplay walkthrough was uploaded for Lost Planet 3 pretty recently and we’ve linked it below. If we’re honest, it really doesn’t fill us with hope for this narrative prequel. It looks functionally very awkward and the QTE’s (or re-branded “struggle” moments) appear to be pretty damn tedious. Even the rig setup seems just a bit crap. Admittedly the final controls could assuage our worries but it doesn’t look like a fluid game. Comparing this to the bloody wonderful E.X. Troopers, where all the game videos looked super tight and that then being proved true with the recent demos, makes this new Lost Planet 3 footage come across as though the final game could very well be a bit pants. Anyway, we’ll know for sure once the game gets released.
Despite not covering the game all that much, Transformers Fall of Cybertron is released in the US today (and Europe at the end of the week). We actually quite enjoyed the first game and this looks at least as good. As a nice touch there will also be a G1 Retro Pack DLC too, which is a cool nod to the fact that this game effectively sets up the narrative arc for the G1 series anyway.
Finally relenting to the wailing of thousands of fans the world over, Double Fine announced that previously XBLA exclusive Iron Brigade would be coming to PC on the Steam digital distribution service. Effective August 13th, those of you without Xbox 360s now have no excuse to not play one of finest surprises in Western mecha game design. We talked a bit about the game back when it was still called Trenched, so those of you with a sense of deja vu can rest assured that you’re not going crazy–you already were when you imported those Super Robot Wars games despite not knowing a lick of Japanese.
Iron Brigade plays like a cross between a straight mecha action game and a tower defense title: a stream of enemy waves come through generators towards a target you need to defend, and all you have to hold your ground with are deployable turrets powered by super-science and a creaky WWI-era mecha with some truly fearsome heavy artillery haphazardly pasted on. These mecha (“mobile trenches”) don’t just hit the sweet spot between a lumbering machine and an agile player character avatar that all mecha games aspire to, but the fact that your ride is an absolute behemoth means the turrets make sense. Your mobile trench carries enough firepower to devastate a small country, but you can’t waste that firepower on small fry when you have an entire map to defend, so the game’s tactics are all about choosing where you need to get involved personally and when your automated turrets can handle things alone. Thus Iron Brigade neatly avoids the common tower defense trap of giving the player nothing to do once a wave begins, while the necessity for strategic turret placement means the player needs to keep track of the big picture rather than just aiming and shooting as necessary.
The loot system is well designed, with most pieces of new equipment not being straight increases in damage but rather tweaks to old weapons that make them feel new again, and Iron Brigade definitely has the trademark feel that Double Fine has become known for, with titles such as critics’ darling Psychonauts and unapologetically metal Brutal Legend demonstrating their ability to craft the creatively bizarre. Mecha series as of late have become entrenched (pun unintentional) in either Gundam clones which miss the mark of what made the original series special, or entire seasons of cute girls doing cute things in giant robots. Seeing something come out of left field like Iron Brigade, which is based on WWI-era futurism and 1940s men’s magazines, is a breath of fresh air. Any mecha game which challenges you to make no man’s land into Real Man’s land is an inherently noble endeavor and a fitting entry in a genre that practically invented badass.
The PC version will thankfully include the original XBLA’s DLC, “Rise of the Martian Bear,” because there’s simply nothing cooler than sending robots to Mars.
After a pretty long hiatus we now have a new Heavy Gear game to look forward to. Developed by the newly founded Stompy Bot, it will be apparently released on both PC and console. The studio is also focused on digital distribution, so it could likely go down the freemium/multiplayer route that’s all the rage at the moment. In any case, we’ve always had a healthy admiration for the Heavy Gear games and setting. If only for the fact that the creators openly referenced VOTOMS as an influence, something that makes very apparent functional sense when you see the scale of the mecha and the fact they have wheels in their feet. Unlike the rampant bell ends who ripped off swathes of classic mecha for Battle Tech, the Heavy Gear setup was always a lot classier in that regard; taking the functional and visual guide from VOTOMS and making something new with it. This is something that can equally be said for Hawken, as the team have happily cited the work of Kow Yokoyama as a similar influence on their mecha design. Regardless we’re just happy that a new Heavy Gear is on the way.
Here’s a new trailer for the forthcoming Hawken and it, looks at least, pretty big budget. If one of the chaps appears familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen him before in X-Men: First Class (specifically that of Edi Gathegi who played Darwin, also pictured above). The trailer does merge what appears to be game meshes into a live action-ish context, which is also pretty sweet. Anyway, it’s clear that this will have a pretty big marketing push the closer we get to the December release.
Over at 4Gamer there’s a new update for Mobile Suit Gundam Online regarding the third Alpha test. With a variety of new features, from a map of New York (shown below) as well as a new mobile suit that of the RGM-79F Land Combat Type GM. The latter is an interesting choice as it’s from M-MSV, the same line of designs that were used in Gundam Senki 0081. The game isn’t exactly a looker but it seems to be garnering quite a following already.
The forthcoming Mobile Suit Gundam Online is now in the throes of its third alpha test. The biggest changes they’ve made to the game are its graphical engine as well as how they’re handling battleships. For those that have managed to sign up for the alpha test, players will also be rewarded with a special wallpaper penned by Naochika Morishita. Still no word on a final release date or how much it will cost as yet.
Despite our double-take on the whole weird marketing for Hawken, the playthrough of the game now has us a bit more excited. Especially as the customisation options look to be pretty cogent. If that didn’t pretty squarely make Hawken a mecha game, then behold its own controller (shown above). Dubbed the slightly tragic “Mek-Fu”, the controller is actually a fully customisable USB device. So even after Hawken has been and gone you’ll still be able to use it quite happily on other games. Considering MechWarrior Online’s Artemis controller, this looks a lot more like the classic Steel Battalion setup we loved and adored. However, the price tag may end up being considerably more than the Steel Battalion one and that even included the game. Though at least you’ll be able to use it on other games, something the Steel Battalion controller wasn’t really able to do. If you want to see the playthrough we’ve linked it below.