skate (360) – Demo Impressions

I know that right now Tony Hawk’s skating games are trying to work their way back from the THUG and THAW titles, and Project 8 was pretty decent.  But at the end of the day, it’s still a Tony Hawk game and its very obvious that the usual methods aren’t going to go away soon — Project 8’s only major interesting addition was the create-a-trick aspect of skating but even then, that took a lot more work.

skate takes a different approach to the skate games.  The first major difference is that instead of pressing a button to ollie and jump or land a grind, you have to use the right thumbstick to initiate most of these.  A quick down and up flip gives a short ollie; a long movement gives a bigger jump , and depending which way you flick the stick back will give you a flip trick or the like.  Landing a grind is actually a matter of landing a jump onto a rail, instead of being 4 feet away from it and being rewarded for it.  Buttons, for what I’ve played in the demo, are mostly to build up speed (which includes which specific foot you use to do so).   It’s definitely different, but feels a bit more in control of your skateboarding.

The levels, within the demo, don’t feel as artificial as  many Tony Hawk levels.  I’ve yet to find an infinite grind line, for example.  Here’s a game where bloom looks like it helps as it takes the hard edge off everything.  Of course, the demo seems limited to the skate park, but the (UNQUITTABLE) movie when you quit the demo shows some pretty interesting other areas.

Eternal Sonata (360), Stranglehold (360), Bioshock (360) – Demo Impressions

Eternal Sonata

First off, this game is extremely beautiful – this is definitely the type of game that should take every advantage of the graphical power of the 360. From a standpoint of a typical JRPG .. ok, the combat system seems awesome, being a mix of turn based and action modes, but my only concern in this being brought to the 360 market is that all other usual features of a JRPG are there – minimal VA, the typical town searching, etc. For people that have played JRPGS, this is completely expected, but as this is either going to be the second or third JRPG for the 360 (after Enchanted Arms, which is highly deviant from usual JRPGs, and possibly Blue Dragon) the style of play may not appeal to all games. That’s not to say it won’t do well – this appears to have the potential to do for JRPGs as Final Fantasy VII did for them back 10 years ago.

Stranglehold

I like the concept of the game, as it brings to mind Max Payne to some degree, but two things put me off initially. First, the shortened perspectively feels really odd compared to other third person games, and I don’t yet see why that option was used , but we’ll see what comes from that. The other problem was that if you just walked against a waist-high flat surface, you’d butt-slide across it — I may be able to get used to that but the concept is so weird, I don’t think was a smart thing to make this an automatic move. However, I’ll have to see how it plays out in the full game. Also, demos that require you to see a movie before you can fully quit them are extremely annoying. I don’t mind one or two ad screens, but a 2 minute movie to quit out is way to excessive.

Bioshock

I haven’t played through the whole demo yet (as it came out last night, and I only had a brief time before work to try it), but I will say right now, it’s nailed down the environmental and the graphics perfectly.  I get a weird mix of System Shock 2, Starship Titantic, Myst, and “Metropolis” the movie and/or anime with how the architecture and mood are presented.  There’s one point where you have to run across a couple of bridges as they are filling with water (given that you’re in an underwater city and all), and man oh man the water effects are done beautifully.   Gameplay so far seems to have the feel of SS2, though as far as I’ve played, it’s similar to many other shooters, but again, I’ve only played like 15 minutes if that much.