News: Gundam Side Stories Ez8 DLC Released
Following on from the somewhat improved set of DLC for Gundam Side Stories, there's now a new mobile suit out. Specifically that of the mighty RX-79[G]Ez-8 Gundam Ez8...
One of the most renowned mecha series in gaming has to be that of Front Mission, as it has endured the test of time and indelibly made its mark on the genre. It’s practically a beloved heirloom these days and Square Enix had the right idea, or at least the semblance of one, when they tried to bring the saga into the present day. On paper, you’d think that hiring a Western developer to helm a standard third-person-shooter would be a no brainer but Front Mission, like any mecha based gaming series, isn’t one that can slot neatly into a functionally standardised niche.
Ignoring the functional and cultural heritage of mecha is going to get you into trouble when you deal with a series like Front Mission and unsurprisingly that’s where Double Helix have landed themselves; up trouble creek without a wanzer to help them out.
F.E.A.R. 3, the next game in a line of first person shooters about high technology and the supernatural combining to create a general mess of things, has had its power armors, imaginatively named the Power Armor and the Enhanced Power Armor, revealed. The two battlesuits previously appeared in F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and the EPA was in fact pilotable in F.E.A.R. 2, but the trailer they’ve sent out implies a lot more mobility on their part this time around, making their existence part of what I see as a kind of renewal in Starship Troopers type power armor, where the “power” component to their power armor wasn’t just a heavier load of armor and munitions, but also thrusters which allowed a single infantryman to move quickly across miles of territory. The typical “space marines” of today, for all their glitzy tech, still find themselves cowering behind crates just like any other human but it seems the industry may be moving in a more interesting direction.
The designs of the PA and the EPA remind me a bit of the Tau’s Stealth Suits and Crisis Battlesuits from Warhammer 40,000, which could make it a rare example of a game adding more mecha-like elements by being inspired by a Western design, rather than a Japanese one.
Worth pointing out is that the mechs here seem designed to incorporate the general FPS feel of the rest of the game rather than to merely add a “vehicle mode”; the game still visible looks, and seems to play, like an FPS while unmistakably incorporating the functions granted by the mecha. Obstacles and cover that would hinder a regular human fall easily before your robot’s might, expanding your tactical options, but the player’s point of view stays the same, stopping the player from dissociating from the “closeness” of the action. This was a problem with the EPA in F.E.A.R. 2, where the mech sections, while fun, seemed to be at odds with the game’s main trick of being a horror FPS.
Hopefully the developers, Day 1 Studios, will be able to produce something that will make us forgive them for MechAssault.
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.