EGX Diaries: Bandai Namco Preview Day
In between the awesome madness that is EGX, CalmDownTom was invited by Namco to preview four of its upcoming games. Read on to see Stu and Mike’s opinions of Shadow Warriors, F1 2014, Project Cars and Pac-man and the Ghostly Adventures 2.
Mike says: Shadow Warrior is a re-imagining of the 3D Realms classic of the same name. We reviewed the game when it came out on PC last year. The version we got to spend some time with was the upcoming PS4 version. Again, the first thing to hit you is how beautiful the game is. The graphics and frame rate seemed to be on par with the PC version and allow you to get sucked into the world of Lo Wang. Shadow Warrior controls really well on the PS4. At no point was there any feeling of “I wish I had my mouse and keyboard”. Now that may be different for those who played the game on PC at first as you always tend to favour the first control scheme you use when playing a game. Shadow Warrior has not lost any of its juvenile humour and charm. It is a fun first person hack and slash that should find a new lease of life (and audience) on PS4 and Xbox One.
Stuart says: As funny as it was beautiful, Shadow Warrior was a surprise for me. Not expecting too much (as I prefer using mouse and keyboard) I found myself getting to grips with the PS4 controls pretty quickly. The mapping felt comfortable and fluid. However, I maintain that First Person games suit my play style better when using a keyboard and mouse. The game looked phenomenal, brilliant colours, nice graphics and the blood spatter as you slice an enemy in two were both gruesome and awesome. The game also had its humour, I do find myself enjoying games that have realistic responses. For example, when something other worldly happens or makes you question your beliefs, the natural response is to use many expletives to try and convince yourself that this is totally fine. No? Just me? Ok, well the amount of swearing and its in-game timing were perfect for me. Not really a fan of hack and slash, but still well versed in the genre I felt the enemies were just a tad too difficult when you are using the sword. Slicing demons for 10 seconds a piece while their buddies are trying to dine on your innards left me a little wanting.
Mike says: Codemasters have been working on the F1 games since the 2010 installment and it shows. All the cars and liveries are spot on making your Formula 1 experience as authentic as possible. Again, all the tracks have been polished up and the game is possibly one of the best racers you are going to see on Xbox 360 and PS3. The pit instructions now give you a bit more information on track conditions and lap times etc in comparison to F1 2012 – the last version I had played. During my time with F1 2014 I only got to play single races so am not too sure what improvements have been made to the career mode. All the usual assists are still present – Flashbacks and the Steering and Braking assists. The options available for customising your driving experience ensures that F1 2014 is a game suitable for all skill levels. F1 2014 does seem like a final huzzah for the last gen consoles. This is however it’s only negative point as well seeing as we will need to wait until 2015 before we get a Codemasters F1 game on PS4 and Xbox One.
Stuart says: Having played the F1 games since 2010, I felt that 2013 relied way too heavily on the nostalgia mode. I do feel that each iteration of the series could be a DLC, which could be said of any gaming series, but that is beside the point. F1 2014 is a return to form. Having to fight you way to the front in this seasons cars can be difficult, but it seemed more realistic. I opted to play as Bottas at the Chinese Gran Prix, and the battling with AI felt a true testament to the sport. The only downside, which can be said of all the F1 games, is that once you have finally passed an opponent they seem to give up. Yes they can usually keep up but they don’t ever seem to stick a move down the inside or try lucking a pass round the outside of a corner. The game looks sharp, and the sounds are a bit louder than I’d expect from this seasons ‘quiet’ engines. I will be getting F1 2014, but I am not entirely sure it’s because of my love for the sport or if the game is genuinely a sound buy.
Mike says: Of all the games at the preview Project Cars was the one that interested me the most. Being designed as a realistic driving simulator, Project Cars is hoping to compete with Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. And from the little we could see it is on the right track (see what I did there?). The preview version we saw was a supercar race at Brands Hatch. I also had the opportunity of racing in a different car and track at the demo units at EGX. Where the EGX demo was set at what felt like a beginner level, the game at Namco’s offices was set at a level to show off the simulation part of the game. Turning, braking and accelerating around corners had to be spot on or the car spun out. The driver AI also seemed ruthless to the point that they would “nudge” you out of the way to maintain the driving line. The forty minutes or so spent with the game was enjoyable but also very challenging at that difficulty level. The lower level experienced on the EGX show floor was just as enjoyable but a tad easy so here’s hoping there will be a happy medium for all player types. Graphically Project Cars is stunning. Not only do the tracks look on par with Gran Turismo and Forza, the various cockpit views blow them away. The attention to detail is phenomenal and actually caused a few crashes whilst I was admiring them. With the glut of racing games we have coming to PS4 and Xbox One this year, Project Cars had better be ready to fight for its place on your game shelf. It is the most simulation like out of the four games coming (The Crew, DriveClub and Forza Horizon 2 being the others) but with its immersive career mode it may be the one that will hold your attention the longest. Either way Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport better look out, there’s a new kid on the block.
Stuart says: This was one of the two games I was really looking forward to for the preview day. What made it all the better was that it started off with me using steering wheel and pedals in a racing chair, all on a huge TV screen. So my anticipation and giddyness were at an all time high. The game looks fantastic. It has always been one of the many racing games out this year that should be looked out for. I must say I am pretty good when it comes to racing simulators, and all racing games in general, but this was fantastic. The whole situation of being in a racing seat with Steering Wheel and pedals and a flappy paddles was mind blowing. The game itself was gritty, it had a decent amount of difficulty when it came to making a pass. However, the real difficulty was in trying to put the power, of which your car had an abundance of, down. A lot of the corners, especially in the rain, required absolute concentration or you would be end up going off track. There was no room for error, but after a few laps and getting used to using flappy paddle with no sound, I was able to get the max out of the car. This would be my pick of the racing games out this year, but not being able to compare it to The Crew at the time of writing, I may have to eat those words once I do.
Mike says: Pac-man and the ghostly adventures 2 is a kids game. It’s a generic puzzle platformer set across various stages that younger gamers will love. Although it was not my cup of tea, I have to admit that it is rather good at what it does. The stages are very colourful and the music is suitably cheerful. The difficulty was set at a level that expects players to learn as they go along and does not do the thing I hate – treat younger gamers as idiots. The only negative was some of the voice acting. Pac-man’s voice was voiced by a precocious child that drove me up the wall, but then the game is not aimed at me. If you have younger gamers in your life Pac-man and the ghostly adventures 2 looks like a game you can buy in confidence to keep them occupied with some good clean fun.
Stuart says: This was the game I was most looking forward to. It’s Namco’s addition to the Pac-Man series. The first being Namco’s best selling game of all time, which just so happens to have been released in 1980. So what has 34 years and todays technology gotten us? Well, it’s a heap load of fun in an aesthetically pleasing package. With power ups and some ghost gobling action this was by far my favourite game on preview. Not being tied down to just playing as Pac Man you get to play as some of his friends to defend their city from Ghosts. So it isn’t all about platforming action of which both 2D and 3D elements are used. The addition of the friends allows you to keep the game a tad fresher than an out and out platformer would have been. I know Mike mentioned the voice acting, but this is something that could ruin games. It has in my experience and Pac-man and the ghostly adventures 2 gets scarily(gettit?) close to that fine line. Pac-mans voice was grating but it can be overlooked. The way you can chain the attacks together and use certain power-ups to dispose of your enemies is smooth and grants you a bigger bonus. It felt like a lot of care went into the making of this rather than it being an attempt to clone something else.