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Gaming: Demo Round-Up

Some thoughts on demos I’ve played recently – Bayonetta, Dante’s Inferno and Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues.  Apart from Bayonetta all demos were only played on the PS3, simply because I have lots of space on my 80GB PS3 drive but almost none on the 20GB 360 drive:

Wikipedia fact: "Combat in Bayonetta, a single-player action game, resembles that in Hideki Kamiya's prior Devil May Cry. The player is encouraged to explore ways to dispatch enemies with as much flair as possible through the use of both melee and long ranged attacks, complex combo strings, and multiple weapons."

Bayonetta

Available for: 360 (download here), PlayStation 3 (both versions played)

Thoughts: As was clear from very early on in the game’s developments, Platinum Games weren’t ever aiming for subtlety with Bayonetta, they just set out to make a big, over-the-top game in the Devil May Cry style, and that really comes across in the demo. It’s all quite bonkers, Bayonetta blows kisses and sheds her clothes, fights a big monster with the head of a baby, and so on, with healthy doses of Japanese pop music.  It was fairly fun but not really my kind of game (I’m not keen on the Devil May Cry genre in general), and despite learning all the combos I quickly fell back on button mashing once the actual combat started.

Interestingly, when playing the PS3 version of the demo I didn’t really notice any obvious graphical issues or frame drops (I even had both running at the same time and switched channels to compare), but the PS3 version is supposed to be dramatically inferior, to the point that reviews are scoring the PS3 version much lower and there has been talk of Sony stepping in to try and make the full release a little better. Each version is slightly different though, with the two demos combined taking place over three levels – the falling clock tower, the city and a boss fight in some sort of church – but each system missing one of them.  The 360 demo has the first two levels but not the final one, while the PS3 skips the clock tower (which is supposed to run particularly badly on PS3), starting with the city but includes the latter boss fight.

Verdict: OkaySomething to get when cheap, especially as it’s getting a surprising number of high or ‘perfect’ scores.

Dante's Inferno

Wikipedia fact: "The game's primary protagonist, Dante is depicted as a knight of the crusades who has a red tapestry telling of his life sewn into his chest. Unlike how Dante is normally shown in the Divine Comedy as being weak and timid, even being horrified at the sight of demons or evil spirits, the Dante in this portrayal is depicted as being muscular and skilled in weaponry/magic."

Dante’s Inferno

Available for: 360 (download here), PlayStation 3 (version played)

Thoughts: As with my thoughts on Bayonetta, this isn’t my favourite genre. As such, Dante’s Inferno didn’t blow me away even though there was nothing particularly wrong with it. It seems like a good God of War imitator, although the main character wasn’t as memorable as somebody like Kratos.  There were hints of an interesting story there, which for me was probably more of a draw than the combat (which was fine). There were enough little bits in the boss fights (the first boss is one of those teleporting & flying bosses that grows steadily more annoying) and the wheel section (where a giant wheel is slowly rolling after you and will crush you if don’t kill all the enemies in time) to suggest it’s the kind of game that will repeatedly frustrate or annoy me in places, so I won’t be in any rush to play the full game.

Verdict: OkaySomething to get when cheap where there aren’t any other games I’m more interested in. Then again, I was similarly unimpressed with the Dead Space demo (as I mentioned here) but went on to really like the full game.

Wikipedia fact: "GameTrailers gave the game a score of 7.0, citing it as more repetitive than previous titles and criticizing a lack of online features to compliment the co-op and level editor modes. They also criticized the fact that half the game was based on 'the worst movie in the series'."

Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues

Available for: 360 (download here), PlayStation 3 (version played)

Thoughts:Having young family members around means I value games that are both suitable for that age group and are actually decent games in their own right.  While there are games like LittleBigPlanet doing a spectacular job every once in a while, Traveller’s Tales’ series of Lego games are by far the most prolific.  That’s partly because they have been content to use pretty much the same engine time after time, making only incremental improvements and focusing more on re-skinning it each time.  The first Indy game, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures was probably the weakest of all the Lego games and seemed like a big step back in content after the continuing escalation of the Star Wars titles (and Lego Batman, which immediately followed the first Indiana Jones, had more content, varied characters and abilities and was just a better game all around).

In some respects Lego Indy 2 almost seems like an attempt to make up for that.  The three first films will be back in the sequel but completely remade, there will be three sets of levels based around the newest film, The Crystal Skull (so doubling the content), and there will be a level editor included to make your own basic levels (though I don’t expect it will be anywhere close to being as fully featured as LittleBigPlanet‘s editor). The demo shows off some of the improvements to the game engine itself, all of which are for the better. There’s targeting for guns/whips now rather than having to rely on auto aim each time, better object handling (you don’t have to drop important items for one-shot throwing weapons), dynamic splitscreen co-op (which splits the single screen when players wander far enough from one another) to end those horrible camera issues, better vehicle controls, and some other things. It’s all more what you’d call refinement rather than a radical overhaul, but it really does help.

Verdict: GoodThis seems like there are plenty of improvements, which will make it a great game to play with my young relatives.

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