NYCC 2012: Nintendo Land: Metroid Blast Hands-On

Nintendo had the Wii U on full display at New York Comic Con this year, and one of the most interesting titles there had to be Nintendo Land. We may have written the game off a bit when it was revealed at E3 2012, but one aspect of it that piqued our interest was the Metroid exhibit, one of the game’s twelve. It looked good at the Nintendo conference it was revealed at, so we were excited to give it a spin ourselves.

Glacier928 and I teamed up, brandishing our WiiMotes against our opponent and his Game Pad. After signing in, we found our Miis donning Samus’s Power Suit, while our opponent controlled her ship. We demoed the game’s Ground vs. Air mode, and after a brief training mission to get used to the point-and-shoot controls, we were placed in the arena, a circular, volcanic area with multiple platforms and catwalks to traverse. The map also contained several grapple points which Glacier and I were able to grab onto simply by shooting at them. The controls are extremely inuitive and simple; the analog stick moves the character in the four cardinal directions. Holding the A button lets the player rotate the camera and look around, while holding down the Z button puts the player in morph ball mode, providing a smaller target and slightly faster movement. Shooting is very simple as well, and is somewhat similar to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption’s controls: the WiiMote controls a crosshair on the screen, and the B trigger fires. The B trigger can also be held down to charge up and release an explosive shot, but this attack can hurt friends and foes alike, so it takes more caution to use properly.

Glancing over at our opponent, we saw that things looked a little different from his perspective; the touch screen on the Game Pad showed the ship looking down at the rest of the field, which he could move by tilting the Game Pad in the direction he wants it to go.

All players have a health bar (one above the ship and one on each ground player’s back), and players have a life count as well – after exhausting the life bar, the player loses a life, and once all lives are gone, the player is out. However, their teammate can pick up hearts spread throughout the arean to bring them back into the fight.

The gameplay itself consists mostly of moving around the arena on the ground and by utilizing grapple points, while also firing at the ship in the air. The ship pilot can do the same, but needs to manage two opponents instead of one. However, the pilot has the advantage of becoming momentarily invincible after taking a shot.

Given our experience with the WiiMote and other types of point-and-shoot games, the match was over pretty quickly, but it was a lot of fun and certainly helped to change our minds about Nintendo Land. While the idea of it being a full-featured game at a premium price is still debatable, buyers of the Wii U Deluxe version will have the game bundled and serves as a nice starting point for new owners. Like other games we’ve played, Nintendo Land offers a ton of great split-screen gameplay, something Nintendo has shown to be one of their focal points for the platform.

Check out GamersXtreme.org for much more of our New York Comic Con coverage, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @GamersXtreme for photos and video footage!

NYCC 2012: ZombiU Multiplayer Hands-On

Last June, I got the chance to try out ZombiU’s single-player mode, and it was incredibly impressive. This time around, I’m giving the head-to-head multiplayer mode a playthrough at Nintendo’s booth for New York Comic Con this year.

I may have gotten there early, but there was already a line ahead of me. I saw two players up front: one sporting the Wii U Pro Controller and another with the Game Pad. A large flat screen television showed a player fighting off hordes of zombies while trying to capture points. I figured the player next to her was using the Game Pad to feed her intel and work cooperatively, but as soon as I (and the girl behind me in line) walked up to the platform, we realized that the two players before us were actually competing against each other. The player with the Game Pad plays the game in a similar manner to a real-time strategy game, spawning several types of zombies around the map in an effort to take down the survivor and capture points themselves. Since I got the survivor’s experience last June, I offered the Pro Controller to my opponent while I took up the Game Pad.

The zombie “commander”‘s role is an interesting one; there are two resources for them to manage: zombie population and energy. The commander can spend energy to spawn zombies around the map (except inside obstacles and within a short radius of the survivor). There are three zombies to choose from initially, all with their own energy and population costs: the Grunt can capture points, the Guard stays within a short radius of where he’s spawned, and the Stalker always knows the survivor’s location and chases them relentlessly around the map. The commander can also earn experience and level up, at which point they can unlock even more zombie types.

After getting familiar with the Game Pad and the rules, I wished my opponent luck and offered to go easy on her – it was her first game of ZombiU, after all.

My radar showed me an overhead view of the entire map as well as the survivor’s location, heading, and health at all times. There were three points on the map to capture, so I immediately placed a Guard and Grunt down at the first one to begin taking the lead. The survivor found the location shortly after that and had to try to fend them off, but I had a plan; I planted a Stalker behind her (and just out of her field of vision), who immediately gave chase. Between the Guard and Stalker, she had her hands full and needed to retreat. After falling back to a defensible spot, she had the upper hand against my growing horde of Stalkers, but was eventually taken down, giving me the opening to spawn another Grunt to capture the second point. She had to wait a short while – roughly 10 seconds – before she could respawn.

By this point, I realized I had reached level 2, so I opened the upgrade panel and had a choice of three new zombie types to select. One was a sort of upgraded Stalker, but I decided to go with the Spitter to supplement my melee army. I spawned one near my opponent’s position, and once she was set upon by the Stalkers, the Spitter got into range and lobbed a glob of vomit at her, momentarily blurring her vision and leaving her wide open for my Stalker swarm. She tried to fight them off, but was ultimately taken down again. I tried to slow down a bit, but there was just so much to check out.

This pattern continued for another few minutes – my opponent held her own but ultimately, anyone would have a hard time focusing on capturing points while fending off a zombie army like one I had accumulated. After another couple of minutes, my Grunts captured the third and last point and won the game for me. My focus was mainly on my own screen, but glancing up at the TV gave me a glimpse into the survivor’s perspective. The map was dark and gloomy, with plenty of walls and wide-open spaces. Several dead ends reduce the chance of getting surrounded, but also eliminates the chance for the survivor to flee, so it’s a trade-off that more confident players may want to try.

All-in-all, I was extremely impressed by what I saw in the multiplayer demo. ZombiU, and the other games we’ve had the chance to preview so far, are really bringing back the magic of old-school split-screen play to a modern platform. If there was one criticism I could draw about the multiplayer mode, it’s that the zombie commander has a bit too much leeway in spawning zombies. It was very easy for me to spawn a group of Stalkers behind the survivor in the blink of an eye – perhaps a cooldown or a restriction in where to spawn zombies would make the game more balanced and strategic.

ZombiU is set for release the same day as the WiiU on November 18th, and it’s definitely looking like a prime launch title and a great first choice.

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P.S. Sorry Serenity! I didn’t know my zombies’ own strengths. Hope you enjoyed the game, and the rest of Comic Con, though!

NYCC 2012: God of War: Ascension Multiplayer Hands-On

Sony had plenty to show off at their booth at this year’s New York Comic Con, and one of the most highly-anticipated demos there has to be God of War: Ascension. Sony had plenty of demo stations set up, complete with a Spartan-inspired decor and a Kratos statue just outside. Ascension’s multiplayer demo was on full display, and Glacier928 and I took our place among six players who could participate in a single match together.

The demo starts with each player choosing their hero’s loadout, complete with armor and weapon type, and their choice of magic. Lighter armor grants better magical resistance, while heavy armor protects against physical blows. The two weapon choices, the Blade of Ares and the Hammer of Ares, both had their strengths but mainly determined the character’s style of combat. While the Blade favors vicious slashing attacks, the Hammer allows players to literally maul and stun their enemies.

Once everyone was locked in, the game showed a quick fly-by of our battlefield: the giant Titan Polyphemus has been chained down, and the Spartans and Romans are fighting to be the force to take it down and earn the favor of the Gods. The map consisted of a multi-level system of platforms, complete with teleporters, capture points, and special weapons and items. Once the intro ended, we hopped a zipline into the main arena and began fighting for the map’s capture points. The camera is fixed at a low isometric perspective that Diablo fans will no doubt be familiar with, but others may have a hard time adjusting; it’s easy to see allies and enemies in the distance behind you, but you can be easily ambushed by enemies in front of you, just out of the camera’s sight.

Combat plays out very similarly to the rest of the God of War series, allowing you to run, jump, throw grappling chains at your foes, and bash them into submission with your weapon of choice. However, several items are scattered around the map, such as a giant club that can be used to maul and stun your opponents, or the Boots of Hermes, which allow you to run faster for a limited time and even perform a sliding charge attack against your foes.

The main draw of the multiplayer mode, however, is the combat – and anyone who’s played God of War will pick up on the combat system quickly. Square allows you to do a series of quick attacks, triangle performs a charge-up attack, and square unleashes a brutal strike that leaves you open. You can also hold L1 to block as well as open up another set of attacks (when combined with the face buttons), R1 allows you to grapple an enemy to bring them into the fray or prevent them from fleeing, the right analog stick allows you to dodge, and L2 performs an interesting function – it allows you to evade attacks while recovering health, though this ability comes with a cooldown, so it’s best saved for those times when an opponent is preparing to finish you off.

For my part, the controls took some getting used to, as the demo throws a lot of instructions in your face at once. However, upon death, the game also shows helpful hints and instructions on the bottom of the screen, giving you a recap. After just a few minutes of trial and error, I was throwing down with the most elite God of War veteran.

If there’s one thing the demo does well, it’s that it really sucks you in. The combat is fast-paced, visceral, and has a lot of depth, and rewards careful attack uses and strategic movements. If you defeat an opponent here, it usually won’t be because of dumb luck. Knowing when to dodge and block and when your opponent leaves himself open will give you a huge advantage.

This is especially true when locked in combat with another opponent – at times, the fight will descend into a button-mashing mini-game not unlike the Lancer duels from Gear of War. The victor will stun their opponent and unleash a series of heavy strikes against him. While the attacker is completely invulnerable during this sequence, they also can’t perform any actions until it finishes. This turned into a huge liability in our game, as one of our teammates was being pummeled by an enemy, only to be surrounded by the rest of our team, ready to wreck our opponent when he finished with our teammate. He didn’t stand a chance, and his nervous laughter showed he knew it.

The game continues in this fashion for a time, until the Spear of Olympus descends from the sky. A crucial element of the match, the Spear is the victory condition that allows either team to secure the win. A player needs to run to retrieve it while fending off the opposing team, then rapidly press the Circle button to take Polyphemus down. During this time, he’s completely vulnerable, so teamwork is essential.

All in all, the demo felt extremely solid – in fact, the only bug we noticed is that the victory screens at the end of the match were inconsistent. While my screen told me the opposing Romans won, Glacier928’s stated that the Spartans secured the win. We were on the same team, so it wasn’t a context issue. However, I’m sure Sony will easily squash this bug in no time, and for a demo so far ahead of the game’s release, it’s rock-solid.

God of War: Ascension is being developed by Sony Computer Entertainment’s Santa Monica Studio, and is slated for release in North America on March 12, 2013.

Check out more gameplay footage live from the NYCC showroom floor below, and follow Gamers Xtreme for everything Comic Con!

NYCC 2012: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition Hands-On

While Nintendo had a great showing at their booth at NYCC this year, it was clear that developers were embracing the Wii U as well. Namco was present to show the Wii U edition of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and we were lucky enough to get out hands on a Game Pad to try it.

Tekken Tag II on the Wii U is presented as an enhanced version of the already-beloved fighting hit, with plenty of Nintendo-themed extras thrown in, such as the Link costume seen above. However, our experience mostly showed off the game’s technical achievements. Tekken Tag 2 looks great on the Wii U, with a constant 60 FPS rate and sharp, beautiful graphics. Namco didn’t stop there, however – they’ve completely embraced the use of the Wii U Game Pad. Specifically, the touch screen served two functions: showing a list of moves and how to perform them (though being in Japanese, we had a hard time following them), and also duplicating the display on the main TV screen. Even on the smaller touch screen, the game looks sharp, and shouldn’t be considered a downgrade except for the staunchest videophiles. The controls are laid out extremely well, with punches assigned to the X and Y buttons and kicks to A and B. Tekken’s combo system is incredibly interesting, involving linking left (Y and B) and right (X and A) strikes together to form chains. Having the triggers and shoulder buttons within easy reach on the Game Pad make modifying these combos very easy.

Our demo consisted mostly of an Arcade Mode demo, and unfortunately didn’t show off any of the included extras with the Wii U edition of the game. However, the character roster is expansive, and the combat feels solid. Any fan of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, or even the past games in the series, will find no issue with the Wii U edition. Some of the planned included features include character costumes of prominent Nintendo characters (such as the Mario Bros. Link, Captain Falcon and many more), a Mushroom Battle mode where players can collect Mushrooms to increase in size and power, while avoiding Poison Mushrooms that do the opposite, and the return of Tekken Ball, a game mode not unlike Volleyball where fighters strike a ball in a tug-of-war struggle. The Wii U edition will also include all DLC characters and stages released for PS3 and Xbox 360 by the Wii U edition’s release.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition is slated to be a day-one release game, going on sale on November 18th.

Check out our gameplay footage straight from New York Comic Con’s showroom floor below, and stay tuned to Gamers Xtreme for even more NYCC coverage!

NYCC 2012: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Hands-On

Sony had plenty on display at their New York Comic Con booth this year, and Assassin’s Creed Liberation was just one of the many Vita titles they were showcasing. We got to try out its demo briefly at the event, and from the looks of it, it’s sure to bring a legitimate Assassin’s Creed experience to the handheld format.

The demo began with lead character Aveline de Grandpré following her contact down the Bayou in canoes. This immediately showcased the game’s use of the Vita’s rear touchpad; the player can make Aveline move the canoe’s paddle by swiping forward or back on the left or right side of the touch pad. Players can also steer the canoe using the left analog stick. This took a little getting used to, but felt natural after about a minute of play.

Soon after, Aveline makes ground on the riverbank near a live alligator, which the player needs to wrestle and subdue. This plays out in a quick-time event and left me a bit off-guard – however the result threw me off even more, as the animation for Aveline fighting to free her leg from the alligator’s jaws looked like something out of an internet .gif – wacky and exaggerated. However, I took the opportunity to fight back, pressing the correct button sequences to move to the alligator’s back and subdue it with a quick stab. And as Aveline’s partner was quick to point out, all she got for her trouble is a stinking alligator egg. Worthwhile to her, perhaps, but I was ready to move on to the next challenge.

Soon enough, Aveline and her contact agree to split up and rendezvous later while she tackles her target’s camp. This portion of the game showed off the way the player can scale the natural environment (we’ve seen this in scores of Assassin’s Creed III footage), and for me, it began with scaling a downed wooden log up to a series of tree branches. Moving along the network of trees feels natural and incredibly fluid – moving the control stick allows Aveline to move slowly and carefully, but holding down the R button will cause her to briskly run from branch to branch, even making leaps over gaps effortlessly. Assassinating targets is just as effortless – if you get close without being noticed. I got lucky with my first target, sneaking around a tent to subdue him quietly. However, my other opponents spotted me, and combat quickly fell back into the traditional format AC fans will be familiar with. After finishing an enemy with a musket, I was then able to take it off his corpse and fire an opening shot at two others with the Triangle button. The firearm takes a long time to reload, however, so I decided to put the bayonet on the end to good use and kill off the last enemy with it.

There was another level to the demo, but at that point I decided to hand the system off to the person waiting behind me. The game feels solid, and brings an authentic Assassin’s Creed experience to the Vita. See our recorded footage for yourself below!

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is set for release at the same time as Assassin’s Creed III on October 30th.

Stay tuned to GamersXtreme.org as we continue to cover everything New York Comic Con has to offer!

Street Fighter X Tekken Swap Costume Sale

More SFXT news coming out of Capcom from NYCC ’12: They will be holding a sale on all “Swap” costumes from October 23rd to November 6th for PlayStation 3 owners, in order to celebrate the upcoming release of the game on the PlayStation Vita.

For the unfamiliar, Swap costumes allow characters from the Street Fighter and Tekken franchises to dress up similarly to characters from their rival franchise. So if you’ve wanted to dress Ken like Lars or see Xiaoyu in Chun Li’s outfit, this is the time to buy, as all applicable costumes will be 50% off during the sale period.