Reviews: Super Robot Wars UX (8/10) Considering that the Super Robot Wars games started out on the GameBoy, their most natural state is generally on similar portable consoles. This has been proven time and time...
We will be reviewing the recently released Front Mission Evolved but we’ve been somewhat delayed with other things recently, which is why the review has been late in coming. In the meantime, enjoy the picture above (courtesy of Persona) where Chirico Cuvie is displaying the same kind of feelings we have towards the game (something that shouldn’t be too surprising if you’ve read our impressions from TGS).
We finally have a trailer for the upcoming fan made PC game Armored Core Limit Release, that’s using UDK in case you’re wondering. The trailer is more of a machinima affair rather than actual gameplay footage, but the final version will be apparently close to the Last Raven era of Armored Core games (despite the somewhat anachronistic presence of a vanguard over boost in the video). There’s a nice post by the game’s creators on how they’re planning to handle the controls as well as an Armored Core 2 era styled HUD mock-up. In any case, this is a pretty ambitious project for a small team like this and we wish them luck. The trailer is below.
At the PAX convention in Seattle, Red 5 Studios released a gameplay trailer of their upcoming free-to-play online team-based shooter, Firefall. Notably, the studio has staff who previously worked on World of Warcraft and Starsiege: Tribes, so it’s not just an online team-based shooter with an amazing gameplay trailer, it’s one by some of the people behind the world’s biggest online game and an online team-based shooter held by many to be a classic, respectively, so the sheer potential this game has is simply staggering.
More mecha related though are the player characters’ armor, which from all appearances seems to work like that of Tribes’, where a character’s role would be determined by the armor, weapons and equipment they had equipped, rather than by having specific classes. And again like Tribes, these are suits of powered armor that allow a limited form of flight through the use of jetpacks, replicating the kind of combat in the novel version of Starship Troopers. While the Starship Troopers movie, which had a radically different plot from the book, muddies this a bit, the original novel had a huge effect on both the mecha anime genre (more specifically, Real Robots) and the “space marine” trope that simply cannot be overstated–they wouldn’t exist in their present forms without it.
In the West, the “space marine” interpretation is obviously the most popular, while Japan adopted the mecha aspects of the novel’s powered armor as their own, but it has only been recently that we’ve started to see the two different genres, which share the same common ancestor, sharing ideas. Games like Lost Planet and Vanquish are starting to take elements from both sides and are creating something new and original, and Firefall seems to be a part of that trend, with even Gears of War getting a piece of robot action these days.
The Firefall armor, for instance, not only looks like the earlier Tribes’, but incorporates a number of features uncommon in the West but more common in Japan–the armor is in general more colorful rather than ultra-gritty gray and includes glowy verniers in addition to more standard thrusters, much like Japanese mecha of today, versus the “space marines” we see more often in the West which de-emphasize these mechanical aspects. The glowy verniers themselves seem to be inspired by Gundam 00′s GN Drives or perhaps some of Gurren Lagann‘s “spiral” imagery, and according to the little data we have available on Firefall, they might even share a few more similarities to them other than looks: they seem to be related to “repulsor technology” a bit like how GN particles (or UC Gundam’s Minovsky particles) could be used for shielding or improved movement. It seems like the powered armor can also use an ability similar to Armored Core: For Answer’s “Assault Armor” in the cinematic trailer (which also shows off deployable robot drones, and the most painful-looking asstacular female ‘armor’ seen to date). The gameplay trailer, with its ten minutes of awesome, follows:
Over at Comiket, Takara Tomy have unveiled the next set of Video Game Robotics gashapon that were meant for a June release (that are now scheduled for December instead). In total, the series will contain four mecha from four different games. They are the PDF-802 X-4+ from Power Dolls 2, a PC turnbased strategy game with mecha designed by none other than Hajime Katoki. Followed by the HIGH-MACS 12 from the original Gungriffon and then the V-MH GLORY from the super rare Metal Slader Glory adventure game on the Famicom (later ported to the Super Famicom). The last mecha, of the four, is apparently a new blast runner from the upcoming Border Break Air Burst. However, all this may sound and look wonderful but the last set of gashapon in the range were pretty awful and they cost 700 yen a piece, these new toys cost 400 yen each. Considering the poor quality of the previous set, reducing the price for the new one doesn’t exactly bode well really.
For the more observant of you this may seem awfully similar to Dracue’s Gunhound, which we do still intend to review. Like Gunhound though, Gigantic Army’s functional influences stem from the Assault Suits series, specifically Valken and Leynos II (not to mention VOTOMS, as many of the roller sound effects are lifted straight from the series!). With any luck this may even get an English translation but for the time being the game is more than playable in Japanese.
This cross-promotion seems to be in addition to an already announced cross-promotion between the two games, where items unlocked in Peace Walker will be available in Front Mission Evolved, and/or vice versa. Considering the very different nature of the two games’ mecha, I’m wondering how this will actually work; if it’s robot-to-robot part swapping it could look awkward, albeit possibly interesting. The mecha in Peace Walker are heavy tank-like walkers and reworked versions of Metal Gear Solid 3′s Shagohod, while Front Mission Evolved’s mecha conform more to the Real Robot standard of quick-moving humanoid weapons, equipped with thrusters and ground rollers.
I wouldn’t mind the big secret being a face-off against the venerable Metal Gear REX from the original Metal Gear Solid. I’ve been waiting years to go mano-a-mano (well, mecha-to-mecha) against that monster without support from an insane cyborg ninja. Getting help from an insane cyborg ninja always felt like cheating.
As a series, Transformers often gets a bum deal when it comes to gaming. In recent history at least, the majority of the games made using the license have been functionally atrocious. However, much of this was down to the games being lead by the nose by the original intellectual property and, for the last few games, down to idiotic schedules on account of them being film tie-ins. Thankfully, games like Batman: Arkham Asylum have shown that if you use the framework of the IP to build a game at its own pace you can end up with something decent.
Activision did just that and between film releases decided to fund a dedicated Transformers game which wasn’t stringently bound to the narrative idiosyncrasies of a series that’s, to be fair, pretty mongrel at the best of times. High Moon have managed to tackle the challenge with a remarkable level of craftsmanship and for the first time in a long while I’ve been able to play a refreshingly good Transformers game.
What with this year’s BotCon having finished over the weekend, the peeps over at TFORMERS.com have uploaded a rather interesting Q&A session with some of the team members who worked on the recently released War for Cybertron. Both Matt Tieger and Aaron Archer talked a fair bit about various aspects of the game but some of the more curious tidbits where the mention of future games that were either to be RPG orientated or even a Twisted Metal-type racer. Bear in mind that these comments were more of the “wishlist” variety and by no means binding, but at the very least it’s a refreshing take and one that does break out of the overtly standardised genre types.
As for the game itself, we’ll be reviewing it very shortly and overall we were very impressed with High Moon’s effort. Considering that the Transformers series often gets a bum deal with games, it’s a great relief to finally play one that doesn’t suck horribly.
The wondrous news of a MBV-04-G Temjin toy on the way has finally manifested itself via an official site from Bandai. Despite specifying both the release date for October this year and the price of 5,040 yen, the site also sports the “theme tune” of sorts for Temjin (or more accurately the stage music where you face Temjin in the original Virtual On). Called In The Blue Sky it’s been a recurring anthem of sorts for the series as a whole. The site also shows a curious lighting effect for the beam sword, whether this is a photoshop special (most likely) or an actual feature remains to be seen. In addition to the site going live there’s also an interesting interview with Juro Watari (effectively the “creator” of Virtual On) over at the official Virtual On site about this new toy.
The swirling chaos that is E3 is almost over, and while it will be some time before anyone can make sense of what this raw data pulse from the games industry actually means, there have been a few mecha-related sightings and announcements for the observant mechanical fanatic.
One of the biggest surprises of the show came in this trailer for the campaign of Halo: Reach, which revealed the presence of space fighter combat. While a lot of FPS fans were shocked by the news, Halo has always had an emphasis on using vehicles, so this is really just an extreme extension of that. More interesting to mecha gaming fans, perhaps, is how Real Robot the Spartan designs now look. While we have talked about the Spartan design and its similarities to Yutaka Izubuchi’s work before, specifically the GM Sniper II and GM Command, the comparison to Japanese Real Robot design is even more pronounced now. The squad of Spartans we see all have different kinds of equipment, and therefore distinct visual looks, which describe their role type on the battlefield. This is something that mecha games have been doing for years and now more mainstream games are finally catching up. Some of the interviews and information being leaked out talk about being able to customize your player character Spartan with different weapons, equipment and aesthetic features, making the character more like a human wearing powered armor and less like a generic guy with guns (something we talked a bit about last week with Vanquish).
Speaking of Vanquish, there’s a gameplay video from the E3 floor which shows the protagonist hopping on and controlling what reminds me of the Regult battle pod from Macross. Vanquish continues to look as amazing as ever and the interesting mixture of Western and Japanese game ideas will hopefully inject some much-needed lifeblood into the ‘third person shooter’ genre.
And more directly mecha related, I was happy to see in the new Warhammer 40,000 MMO trailer some of the massive robotic weapons the Warhammer 40k universe has to offer. While actual details on the game are currently light, and no one seems to be able to tell us whether we will control some of these mechanical monstrosities or if they’re just the 40k MMO equivalent to World of Warcraft’s raid bosses, it does seem as if the developer is trying to incorporate some of the more epic-scaled elements of the 40k universe rather than just making the WoW clone that everyone else is trying to make. I refuse to believe there can be anything bad about a fictional universe that agrees with Mobile Suit Gundam’s assertion that vehicles painted red go faster, at any rate.