The much anticipated Armored Core 5 has been officially delayed until next year. This is something that was intimated at this year’s TGS by the fact the game was noticeably absent. Ultimately this is good news though as the last thing a fresh reboot of the series needs is to be rushed to release. That said, From Software have started the early aspects of their marketing push by firing up their fan supporter setup, so expect more news on the game in the coming weeks.
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.
Proving that cool robots fly away from explosions, G.rev have announced a new XBLA shooter by the name of Seisou Kouki Strania. Interestingly, the protagonist craft is that of a sprightly bi-pedal mecha. From the somewhat radiant sword-esque beam sabre it wields to the multi lock-on attacks, a few comparisons with Treasure’s much loved Radiant Silvergun have already been made. Considering that G.rev and Treasure have quite a close relationship, in terms of sharing their staff, this is hardly surprising. Though considering that Radiant Silvergun is already getting an XBLA port, G.rev’s timing is a little unfortunate maybe. Along with 2 player offline play, the game also boasts the same setup online too – which is pretty impressive for a game of this scope and with such a small team behind it (as G.rev isn’t exactly brimming with staff to begin with). In addition, to weapon switching between three main weapons the game will also have an “Over Dose” (or O/D) setup, that gives the player limited invulnerability for a short time as well as act as a score multiplier. Strania is set for a release late next year and no word on whether it will be a global release as yet, but considering the nature of XBLA this is pretty likely. We’ve linked the promo video below and 4Gamer has some nice screenshots of the game too.
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).
When the Xbox Live Indie Games service was first announced, it was hoped that lowering the normally draconian barrier of entry for developing on a console would allow small, independent teams to create an explosion of creativity not bound down by the corporate world. Despite the initial optimism, the XBLIG section proved to be as much of a curse as it was a blessing, because for each title that was genuinely worth taking a look at, there were nine titles that were either shoddily put together by amateurs or simple, exploitative cash-ins on other creative concepts or even just sex appeal, and the only users who browsed the XBLIGs were the truly adventurous, willing to wade through a cesspool of human waste to get the rare nugget of gold.
Appropriate then that Explosionade is a game where you find gold hidden in sewers, because it is one of the few games that justify the continued existence of XBLIGs. The principle behind the indie games movement was that developers not chained to the high stakes world of initial public offerings and demographics research would be able to create innovative games that users would want to play, rather than what users had proven in the past that they would be willing to play, and finally there is a mecha game on the XBLIG service that proves the indie movement right, because Explosionade is a love letter to the great 2D SNES mecha sidescrollers that adds just enough new gameplay mechanics to make it its own beast.
It’s also only 80 Microsoft Points, which translates to $1 in Real World American Currency, which also makes it the cheapest mecha game you can buy. I don’t know how some of the other authors on the Indie Games service sleep at nights knowing that Mommy’s Best Games’ Explosionade is both better and cheaper than their shovelware, but it likely involves soft beds made out of money. Should you buy Explosionade? It would probably cost you more money to keep yourself alive while reading this review than it would to go and purchase the game immediately, so “Yes.” You can still read the review, though. I worked awful hard on it.
4Gamer has some nice new shots of Gundam Musou 3, showing off its nice cel shading amongst other things. The post also talks more about the new features in the game, though these were also present at TGS (you can read our impressions here). Specifically, the partner system and how that different units you select will do different things. From the XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero spewing beams of localised death, to the beefier MRX-009 Psycho Gundam decimating an entire area. Some fields will also have extra properties if you capture them, such as a catapult being able to instantly transport you to other fields in the level. Finally, the game will be building on its dashing system in a manner partially similar to the “next” dash in the Gundam Versus games. Allowing the player to evade enemy attacks more easily. The game is still scheduled for its Japanese released on December 16th for 7,800 yen. You can pre-order the (region free) PS3 version here. Whilst there is a 360 version as well, we can’t verify it’s regioning status but if you have a Japanese console you can also pre-order it here.
Over at this year’s All Japan Plamodel Hobby Show (photo report here) amongst the panoply of various kits Hasegawa have finally revealed their kit for the fully transformable Myzr Delta VR from Virtual On Force and Marz. This was a continuation of the Viper and Cypher series, so it was an excellent airborne unit as a consequence. GAGraphic also has some nice shots of the kit and the video below (around the 3 minute mark) has some lovely footage it as well, we’ve linked the full video below anyway though. In addition to the Myzr Delta kit Kotobukiya also had their upcoming SAV-07-D Belgdor kit on show too.
What with the release of Virtual On Force around the corner, SEGA have finally released an HD (720p) trailer of the game running – along with its various new features. The video is pretty comprehensive though and does show the accuracy of the port, which is probably the game’s weakest point really (as it looks visually dated and suffers from the functional legacy issues of the arcade original). If you want to know more about the game, then read our hands-on impressions from TGS as well as our extensive feature on the series as a whole..
4Gamer has the breakdown on Virtual On Force’s pretty epic “Memorial Box” set. From a CD soundtrack, containing most of the music from the original game, Oratan, Marz as well as Force (somewhat rendering the rather lovely and now quite expensive Marsinal set a tad moot), the other big addition is that of a 140 page booklet chronicling the 15 years of the series’ history. From lovely artwork for each game as well as interviews with both Juro Watari and Hajime Katoki. In terms of the latter Katoki has also penned some new box-art for the Memorial Box version, something he hasn’t done for the series since the Dreamcast port of Oratan back in 1998. As if all that wasn’t enough, there will also be two Tangram super balls thrown in with the set.
It’s also become apparent that the reasoning behind taking Force to a boxed format, rather than digital download as they recently did with Oratan, was specifically because SEGA wanted to do a 15th Anniversary collector’s set for the fans. Though, SEGA are charging a premium for all this fanservice; at 10,290 yen the Memorial Box isn’t exactly cheap. If you have money to burn though, you can pre-order it here.