Friday, June 17, 2011

El Shaddai, A Monster Hunter Podcast, and Alice: Madness Returns  


Games: I just tried the El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron demo available on Xbox Live.

Although I've been hearing about the game for quite some time and seen loads of screenshots, seeing the game in motion is something else entirely.

From the little bit I played through, I was pretty impressed with the art direction. It reminded me quite a bit of Killer 7 with the vibrant colors, abstract usage of space and minimalist detail. The concept of minimalism seems to be applied to the combat, as well. With one button for attacks, one button for blocks, and one button for jump, the controls are quite streamlined.

I'm definitely more interested in it now that I've played the demo, though I'm wondering how well the game will hold up with what basically amounts to one-button combat -- worst-case scenario is that it ends up as a flashy eyecatcher with boring-after-an-hour fights.

Regardless, it's been bumped up a few notches on the list of games I'm looking forward to checking out.


The great guys over at the Monster Hunter Podcast were kind enough to invite me on their show and we taped both audio and video of some quests that we did together.

In the episode we taped, we kill this thing.
Even though I've spent (collectively) somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 hours or thereabouts on the various MH games, it was still a little humbling to go hunting with a group of guys who were obviously equipped with way better gear than I had. The bulk of my playtime has been solo, so I haven't had much opportunity to take on the highest-level quests to earn some of the coolest stuff. Hopefully that will change in the near future, but for today's recording I had to make do with the middling items I had on hand.

… Needless to say, those guys did most of the work when it came to putting the beasties down.

In addition to my thanks for having me on the program, they also earn kudos for being willing to take my son on a quick quest to rank up before the recording started. Thanks to their helping hands, we knocked out one of the hardest missions in the game (dual Tigrex) in a little over five minutes. If you aren't familiar with that particular mission, that's basically the equivalent of scoring a hundred touchdowns and flat-out winning the Super Bowl halfway through the first quarter.

Once again, props to the MHP crew, and I'll post a link here when the recording goes live.


So, as I mentioned in the last post, I just started playing Alice: Madness Returns (360) for review.

I haven't had a lot of time to actually sit down and jam through it, but I was able to complete the first section and my impressions were mostly positive. The visuals were pleasantly trippy and I'm definitely a fan of the art style. I also have a soft spot for the various incarnations of Alice in Wonderland anyway, so that was also a tick in the plus column.

However, like I said, I'm still way early in the game. Although I'm looking forward to getting back to it, I have to admit that I'm already starting to get a few warning signs.

Essentially, I'm a concerned that the bulk of play is going to adhere to some of the old-school choices that were on display right from the start -- things like breaking open containers to earn money, flipping switches to open doors and dealing with a surprising amount of platform jumping. There's nothing wrong with any of that stuff in general, but the way it comes together here gives the impression that the design philosophy is a little (a lot?) outdated.

Although Alice’s status as Bayonetta junior kicking ass in a creepy nightmare world is clicking with me so far, if the story doesn't come through, I suspect that the gameplay might start to wear on me -- doubly so if reports that the game runs somewhere in the twenty-hour range are true. I really can’t imagine a game of this type justifying a completion time of that length, so I'm hoping that things turn out for the best here.

We’ll see…


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