Killzone Shadow Fall Review (PS4): “Taking a 30-Year Old War Closer to Home than Ever Before”

Killzone Shadow Fall Cover Logo

Killzone Shadow Fall is the linear continuation of the previous installments: Killzone, Killzone 2 and Killzone 3. It takes place 30 years after the events of Killzone 3 and the drastic war that had started then is still taking place now, with one exception. Instead of fighting across the planets Vekta and Helghan, the war is taking place solely on Vekta. A giant wall separates the two factions after Vekta offered refuge for the Helghans. You play as Lucas Kellan, a shadow marshal employed by the Vektan Security Agency (VSA). As you attempt to win the war for the Vektans you soon find that things aren’t always as they seem – and people are not always as they appear.

Story: 4/5

Killzone Shadow Fall takes a dramatic leap forward in time, in which many things have changed. The Vektans and Helghans now live side by side (again), Lady Visari has resumed control of the Helghan political party, and there is a new enemy – The Black Hand, a radical Helghan group bent on eliminating the Vektans completely. Your job as shadow marshal is to stop all of this and bring Vekta to victory.

Killzone Shadow Fall has a wonderful beginning to its story. It starts off showcasing the events of the past, how we got to where we are now, and begins right after the events of Killzone 3. You get a small, but impactful glimpse into how Lucas came to be what he is, and why he fights for the Vektans so passionately. With some summaries and an easy-to-follow time lapse, we arrive in present time, with Lucas doing whatever is necessary to protect his squad and his homeland. Lucas has allowed himself to be captured by the Helghans, and is about to be traded for a prisoner the VSA have, when someone opens fire and all hell breaks loose. Lucas quickly dispatches his Helghan escort and attempts to make it back to his armada, when the prisoner he was to be exchanged for pins him down. However, instead of killing Lucas, the prisoner decides to leave him and run back to safety. Little does Lucas know this prisoner will play a pivotal role in the events that are to follow.

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The campaign proceeds with Lucas following orders from Sinclair – his leader in command and father figure. Multiple missions pit him against the newly developed and highly-trained Helghan army. Lucas is ordered to cover up many tasks, including one very suspicious weapons research in space. Massar, a VSA scientist in charge of discovering new technology to fight the Helghans with, has been captured and Lucas must retrieve her for the VSA. However, things take an interesting turn and Lucas begins to see what no one could have anticipated. From this point on, it is up to Lucas to save the Vektan race.

Killzone Shadow Fall does a marvelous job at continuing the war torn story of the past titles. It beautifully displays the politics and underlying actions of two nations at war, and how everything affects not just the governments, but the people living in each country as well. With a few plot twists and clever planning to ensure validity to the series, it is a solid installment in what has already been put into place.

One of the best things about Shadow Fall’s campaign is the emotional connection it attempts to make with the player. This is done by highlighting the effects the war has had on the people and allowing Lucas Kellen to talk. It may seem like a silly notion for such a small detail to make a large difference, but it truly helps you to get inside the person’s head you’re playing as and become invested into the story. With some clever, subtle and outright ties to the past games, Shadow Fall is a must play for fans of the series. While those who are new to the story may not get as much out of it, they will certainly enjoy what it has to offer.

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Gameplay: 5/5

Killzone has always been known to have a unique feel to it; an inertia that the guns would have making it more realistic. However, that is no longer a part of the game and it now feels much like every other shooter. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is slightly disappointing to see something that was specific to the Killzone franchise omitted. Nonetheless, it has the same qualities as the past installments, with a few key differences. Instead of playing with a squad as you have in past games, you are now running solo – with a little help. You now get control over a small but powerful little robot, the OWL. The OWL acts as your companion throughout the game and is more valuable than any teammate could ever be. With a smooth and easy swipe on the PS4’s touchpad, you can assign the OWL different commands (attack/distract, stun, shield or zipline) and active it with L1. This process is very well integrated and makes for a welcomed addition into playing the campaign.

The rest of the campaign is played out as it has been in the past, relying heavily on gun fights to progress. While the cover system has lost some of its focus, it is still present and fairly fluid. An interesting addition to the game progression is the ability to choose multiple ways to deal with an objective. In many circumstances you are offered multiple paths, making progression seem less linear. In a page from Guerilla Cambridge’s earlier installment, Killzone: Mercenary, you may choose to move forward with guns blazing, or stealthily via ventilation shafts, overpasses or different routes. The amazing thing is that this theme is carried into multiplayer. Level design has never been so well done in a shooter – ever. Brutal melees make a pleasant return and even get an overhaul with new drop down melees and dual kill melees. Have two enemies within view? No problem – drop down and stab one in the back of the neck, then click R3 to throw your knife into the other enemies’ head! There’s nothing more satisfying than going on a stealth rampage, snapping necks and slitting throats.

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When you’re all done with single player you can make your way over to multiplayer, where a whole new experience is waiting for you. You will quickly learn that just about everything is automatically unlocked for you, which creates the argument of “why should I even play this then if there’s no real objective?” Well, hopefully because it’s fun; and to be honest, it is fun! You can still unlock a few weapon attachments such as flashlights, scopes and under-barrel attachments, but as far as new abilities go, what you start with is what you end with. Gameplay is largely based on teamwork, something often forgotten in the FPS world. Three distinct classes allow you to help your team how you want, though some classes feel a little forced. The scout will take care of enemies from a distance with its sniper rifles; the assault class will take care of everyone up close; and the support class will do everything else. Literally. Everything. Else. This is a large disappointment to series veterans as you are now forced to pick an ability you like and deal with whatever weapons are offered by that class. Gun variation is both large and small as different classes’ weapons vary dramatically, but within each class the guns are practically identical. Throw some terribly useless secondary weapons and some simple yet practical explosives into the mix and you’re basically just choosing an ability to run with, without much thought to anything else. Thankfully, Guerilla Games has finally appeared to balance the abilities out; giving usage and lifespan timers to everything – and finally getting spawn points right.

Nonetheless, Shadow Fall does offer a large teamwork feel but if you would like to run off on your own, you can certainly do so. As mentioned before, the level designs are impeccable, offering multiple ways to traverse through any map, largely diminishing camping and promoting strategic playing. Also, GG has seemingly done away with spawn camping. Most maps have at least 3 to 4 exit points, protective barriers and dangerously powerful turrets at each team’s spawn, meaning that if you’re getting spawn camped – it’s your fault. With a variety of game modes and a pleasant, yet underused game creation mode multiplayer, Shadow Fall is sure to stay fresh for a long time, especially considering the verification of plenty of DLC in the future.

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Graphics: 5/5

Since Killzone 2, GG has had a reputation for creating beautiful games and Shadow Fall is no exception. It certainly does help that it has always been designed for, and on the PS4, but if this is just the beginning, I cannot wait to see what lies in the wake of the next few years. Traversing through the game (in general, campaign and multiplayer are essentially equal in visual quality), you will notice rich and deep textures that continue on for as far as you can see. Detail is seemingly not lost at long distances and you will constantly be reminded of this every time you look down a scope. By far, the largest jump in graphical quality from the PS3 are the lighting effects. Flashlights intended to blind enemies are perfectly created, spotlights and small LED’s create realistic glares, and streaks in the night and the environmental effects are unprecedented. Even in multiplayer you will find yourself inhibited by the strong glow of the sun on a bright map – try not to stare at it in all of its beauty. While the rain and water effects could have been improved, this is truly a benchmark for future games on next-gen.

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Sound: 3/5

Let me get this out of the way: there is no more grenade beep. Instead, there is now a subtle and mechanical clicking noise. Never fear however, as the kill chirp and melon popping goodness from a headshot in multiplayer are still present! Though Shadow Fall has a plethora of different effects, none of them are really anything we haven’t seen or heard before. Weapons all make different sounds when firing or reloading; automata will make noises when being constructed, taken down or being activated, and the classic Helghan voice work is still present. While you will appreciate some nice petrusite effects, there isn’t much that really grabs you, with the exception of one thing: the music. Throughout the campaign, the music reflects what is going on and will help guide you to you current objective. If enemies are sounding an alarm, you’ll know from the heavy energetic music. If you’re sneaking through a corridor trying not get bombarded by Higs, the music will reflect that as well. All the while if your status changes, so will the music, making it a truly dynamic experience. While I wish I could reprimand the person responsible for passing the multiplayer objective announcer voiceovers (they are truly awful, both Higs and VSA), the rest of the game’s audio won’t blow you away. However, you will be content with what detail has been added, as it’s basically what you would expect after seeing the rest of the game’s quality.

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Overall Score: 17/20 = 8.5 out of 10

Killzone Shadow Fall offers a tremendously enjoyable experience for a launch title on the PS4, and gives justice to the past installments by continuing the war we have come to know, which is especially enjoyable to series veterans. While the multiplayer has its quirks, many things have been improved upon, making for an enjoyable, and hopefully long lasting, experience overall. The attention to graphical detail is unprecedented and even though the audio throughout the game isn’t extraordinary, it will satisfy your thirst for quality (just don’t pay attention to the multiplayer commanding voiceovers). Killzone Shadow Fall definitely sets the bar for future next-gen games and should not be ignored if you’re looking for something that plays just a little differently from other shooters.

PROS:

+ Amazing graphics

+ Continues with a well-grounded story

+ Seriously impressive level design

+ “Play how you want” MP – team/solo

CONS:

– Multiplayer mostly completed for you upon start

– Awful voice acting in multiplayer commanders

Killzone Shadow Fall was purchased by the reviewer for the PlayStation 4 system.

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Driveclub Officially Delayed to Spring 2014

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This week already started off with two next-gen titles (Watch_Dogs and The Crew) being delayed to 2014, and now another will continue the trend. Driveclub, Evolution Studios next big racing title, has been confirmed to be delayed until Spring 2014. The decision was made to give just a little but more time for the developer to fine tune the game to the utmost vision they’re aiming for.

Now Driveclub was also going to have a PS+ Edition day one for the PS4. Those who were eager to download this for free at launch will have to wait until Spring 2014 alongside the retail version. In place of this, Sony is offering another indie for free at launch called Contrast.

What are your thoughts on this? Sound off in the comments below!

[Source – PlayStation Blog]

Soul Sacrifice Review (PS Vita): “A Mage Infested Murder Party”

Soul Sacrifice Wallpaper

Soul Sacrifice is a new IP that places you at the (lack of) mercy of an evil sorcerer. With only a magical book to guide you in your journey to becoming a sorcerer you must build your repertoire of spells in order to save yourself and the world. Complete quests by yourself or with others online in order to become strong enough to defeat the sorcerer, and while you’re doing that – be weary of what sacrifices your actions may bring.

Story: 5/5

Soul sacrifice is an action RPG that has a very unique and riveting story line. You start off a nameless nobody in a cell ready to be sacrificed by the evil sorcerer Magusar. The world has come to an end and there seems to be no hope left to be found. However, a magical book by the name of Librom finds his way to you and begins to tell you a tale of Magusar’s beginnings in hopes that by finishing the story, you will acquire information on how to defeat him and return the world to its natural order. Librom has you relive the stories within the book as Magusar’s companion, another sorcerer whom you gain control over. You venture through several chapters of the book, gaining different spells, passive abilities and all the while unlocking the secrets of how to save the world. None of this would be useful if kept in a book however, so Librom explains that everything you learn as the sorcerer in the book, you will gain knowledge to in real life. Essentially, Librom is turning you into the one person who can save the entire world.

The general plot line of soul sacrifice is reminiscent of various sci-fi movies and books. It’s filled with betrayal, difficult choices, internal and external struggles and some wild theories and claims about how the world of sorcerers works. But as you make your way through the story… you’ll find that it works. Instead of being confused or bothered by the outlandish theories the game brings about, you will find that everything seems to make sense and suddenly you understand events, emotions, and actions that took place earlier in the story. The developers took a risk at how far out from normal they could go, and it paid off with a brilliantly told and quite gripping story. You can really feel yourself being connected to the characters in the game (albeit how few there are), pushing you to finish the story before you do anything else.

One of the key successes of the story is actually how it is told. Soul Sacrifice makes an interesting move by not showing many cut scenes and replacing usual story progression with the pages of the book, being read by an eerie voice portraying your character. If you have the patience to listen to each line being read within the story, you will certainly gain more understanding of the weight of the situations, and be able to grasp a lot of the feelings coming from the story.

Sadly, soul sacrifice’s main story can be completed in one day, provided you understand the tactics and mechanics of the game for some of the later missions. Even though it is short, the story leaves nothing to be desired. There are two endings which both properly lead to a sequel and really grasp the gravity of the entire build up, forcing you to reach deep into your soul to pry out what you feel would be the best way to conclude the epic journey you have uncovered.

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Gameplay: 4/5

Soul Sacrifice is basically a combination of Monster Hunter and Dragon Age. It utilizes different spells or offerings as your main form of taking down monsters. As you progress through the game, you will unlock hundreds of different spells. Some give you handheld weapons, others may send a streaking path of fire towards your enemies, while others yet may summon a huge golem to do your bidding. You will be able to upgrade spells through a simple fusion option, or combine new spells in a clearly laid out manner. With all the different spells at your disposal one would think taking down enemies would be easy. Well that’s where the game takes a very interestingly fun turn. Out of the hundreds of different spells you may unlock, you can only bring 6 into a quest. There are essentially two types of quests: kill multiple monsters of lower tier (mobs), or kill one large boss monster. Each boss monster has a specific strategy, technique or weakness which can aid in its defeat, and must be utilized for an easier kill. Upon killing any monster, you’re given a choice: to save or sacrifice their soul. This is essentially a karma system in which you are rewarded more defense for saving, or more attack for sacrificing. You gain levels for saving or sacrificing which can give you different passive abilities called sigils, and are accessed via essences collected from defeated monsters after being saved or sacrificed. This is really a well thought-out system as you can change your level balance at any time, allowing you to play the game exactly how you want.

Nonetheless, the sad reality is that the repetitive process of enter quest, kill, repeat can get kind of… well… repetitive. In the end, you only need to do the quests in which you need certain spells for. However, Soul Sacrifice attempts to remedy this by having you farm different quests for different spells. Instead of assigning different spells to a single monster, the game gives you multiple options of quests to complete in order to acquire the spells you want. While this doesn’t completely rid of grinding certain quests, it does help smoothen out the process by picking quests you like. And don’t worry about there being a shortage of quests either; there are literally chapters within chapters within chapters of quests.

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As the quests increase in difficulty, you may need to borrow the help of others via online or ad hoc play with up to 3 other players. The online for Soul Sacrifice is probably one of the best and most stable in a Vita game yet, allowing you to party up and tackle quests that may have given you some trouble on your own. Just in case the aid of others isn’t enough to defeat a monster, the developers of Soul Sacrifice have added one final trick to help you along. If you get beat on enough in a quest to come close to death, you will be given the option to cast a Black Rite spell. There are 5 Black Rites in total, each allowing for massive damage on a single or multiple enemies. However, in order to use them, you must sacrifice something…really bringing out the nature of the game. For instance, activating one Black Rite will set you on fire, causing a massive Ifrit to destroy the battlefield – however, without your skin, your defense is halved! That is until you can reverse the process via an in-game currency collected by playtime called Lacrima. This extra ability, along with the factors that go into a properly prepared sorcerer for each quest, really bring out a strong sense of strategy when playing by yourself or with others, and is often neglected in other games, resorting to a “hack and slash” mentality.

With so many quests to complete, spells to collect and upgrade, and costumes to unlock, there is easily an extremely large replay value thrown in with Soul Sacrifice. You never truly get that feeling of accomplishment until you fully upgrade a spell and begin to dominate with it, only to realize there are hundreds of other spells that could use the same treatment. The ability to team up with others wherever you are is truly a blessing and also prolongs the value of the game. While you may find that certain things are just not worth grinding for, there are at least a solid 50 hours of gameplay in which you can accomplish maxing out your character, completing most quests and maybe maxing a few spells. However, the real value is that Soul Sacrifice can be played anywhere on your Vita. Most quests will not take longer than just a few minutes, allowing you to accomplish small goals on-the-go, making this game to be one of the most practical games on the Vita yet.

Although the gameplay doesn’t change a whole lot from start to finish, you’ll find yourself enjoying newly unlocked spells and working with others to be quite enjoyable, all the while becoming the most badass sorcerer you can be.

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Graphics: 3/5

Many Vita games have seemed to fall short in the graphics department. And while Soul Sacrifice does have some of the best consistent graphics to date, it doesn’t really show it off. Each quest is filled with very vibrant and dynamic environments. Your character’s colors will pop out and the monster details are glorious. But as soon as you exit a quest and return to your homely book, you remember that most of the game just isn’t capturing its potential. This is partly due to the way the story is told, lacking cut-scenes and relying on the pages of the book to express what is going on.

There is one nicely done cut-scene at the end of the game that reminds you of how great the quality of the graphics are, but other than that, you’re really going to have to appreciate the details in the hectic and concentrated gameplay portion of the game. Nevertheless, the game is crisp and colorfully vivacious when it needs to be, and the constant barrage of spells at your disposal really reminds you of this with exciting animations beautifully displayed across your screen.

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Sound: 3/5

With the end of the world upon us in Soul Sacrifice, there is this large feeling of gloom about, and the game’s audio really reflects the eeriness about it. The most capturing thing about the story is how perfectly performed the voice acting is. The emotions are wonderfully captured within every read page and at the end of the readings, you’re rewarded with a most elegant, yet dark and despaired opera, which underlines most of the menus in the book. Sadly, those are the most memorable sounds as the rest of the game’s audio is often blurred by the action.

Within every quest is a wonderful score that captures the battles you are about to undertake, portraying the mood vividly. However, this is turned down and overrun by the epic sounds of your spells being cast and bosses apparently drowning in their own word vomit. While the spells are wonderfully displayed for all to hear and know exactly what is going on, a lot of the ambience is lost in the process, really bringing about a relief when you return to the calm menus.

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Overall Score: 15/20 = 7.5 out of 10

As one of the most versatile games on the Vita, allowing you to enjoy playing in short bursts or for extended periods, Soul Sacrifice really makes an impression into the Vita library. Over a plethora of quests, you will unlock and build of hundreds of spells by which you can take down a variety of different monsters to build yourself as a divine or evil sorcerer. You can be accompanied by 3 others in online or ad hoc play, all the while being coaxed along by the smooth, dark and sultry sounds of the menus, and invigorated by the montage-like soundtrack of murdering in quests; or by its rather impressive, yet under-utilized graphics. While the game can get repetitive, it does hold some stature for attempting to mix things up for you. In the end, Soul Sacrifice stands out for its ingenuity in creating an addictive, albeit repetitive, mage infested murder party that could have used a little more attention to the finesse of the game.

Pros:

+ Compelling story

+ Strong voice acting

+ Lots of replay value (quests, spells etc)

+ Strong and stable online

Cons: 

– Repetitive in nature

– Audio in quest can be too “busy” at times

Copy purchased by reviewer (@VengefulTorture) for review purposes.

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Developer Interview with Different Tuna About “Derrick the Deathfin”

Earlier this week, I had the chance to review PSN’s latest indie title, Derrick the Deathfin, developed by the two person studio, Different Tuna. Today, I had the great opportunity to interview one of the developer’s from the two man team, Gordon (who’s the “Head of Fresh Produce” at Different Tuna).

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to allow us to interview you about your studio’s new game, Derrick the Deathfin. What exactly sparked the idea of making the world’s “first underwater papercraft” game?

Gordon: No problem, we will do literally anything for free publicity.

The idea for the gameplay came first as a result of a mildly inebriated conversation about the relative merits of Mega Drive games Sonic & Ecco, at which point the genius module of my brain finally engaged for a few seconds to come up with the idea of combining the two. The 3d papercraft look and feel only came about at a later date when artistic genius Ronzo (http://ronzo.co.uk) came on board the project.

Marcello: The game’s visuals are stunning to say the least. How much of a challenge was it to develop this art style for the game?

Gordon: Thank-you very much! It was a challenge for sure, and the look is all the work of Ronzo. We wanted to come up with something very fresh and new & I think we’ve done that. If you take a look at some of our making of shots – http://derrickthedeathfin.com/art.html – you will see that we built most of the objects in the game out of paper first. Then we photographed them and had our talented friends at http://www.ten24.info/ model & animate them for us. So quite a convoluted process, but worth it!

Marcello: How did you guys come up with Derrick as a character?

Gordon: I had the name Derrick the Deathfin even before the project kicked off. I assumed at some point somebody would tell me that calling a shark Derrick was ridiculous and that we simply had to change it. Nobody ever did so it stuck. The character of Derrick is all Ronzo’s work though, I love him! Interestingly enough, and in direct contrast to Ronzo himself, the character is extremely popular with young females.

Marcello: How long did it take you guys to develop the game?

Gordon: 2 years! It was a lot of hard work for sure, but nearly always good fun, and Ron & I were determined to make the best game possible.

Marcello: How did the game come about as a PSN exclusive? Did Sony approach you guys or did you approach them about it?

Gordon: We knew Derrick was to be a console game, so we approached Sony with the concept in the first instance and they loved it. The rest, as they say, is history. Or at least the rest is stuff that happened in the past.

Marcello: The game reminds me a bit of SEGA’s “Ecco the Dolphin”. Was that an inspiration for you guys?

Gordon: Ah yes it was. Specifically the intention was to capture the feeling in the original Ecco when you jump out of the water for the first time. There are many many other influences in the gameplay, Sonic being a prominent one, but also Mario Galaxy, Joe Danger…

Marcello: Derrick is definitely a very likable character. How does the future look for our favorite papercrafted shark? Do you guys plan on releasing a sequel to Derrick the Deathfin or possibly even DLC?

Gordon: We are a 2 man team, so the only thing planned for the immediate future is sleep and perhaps some excessive marshmallow consumption. There is no DLC planned at all. And as for a sequel, well a lot more people will need to pick the game up than currently are for that to happen…

Marcello: Now there’s one thing that really struck me while playing the game…this would be perfectly suited as a PS Vita game! It has a great pickup-and-play feel to it that would be perfect on-the-go. Have you guys considered bringing this title to the PS Vita?

Gordon: We get that comment a lot, but we are a PlayStation 3 exclusive at the moment. In the future though anything could happen, with the possible exception of time travel because then of course we would know about it already.

Marcello: Thanks again for your time Gordon!

Gordon: Thanks for the questions & review again!

As I had stated in my recent review, Derrick the Deathfin is a very good game that I encourage anyone who’s ever played “Ecco the Dolphin” or just loves indie games to give a shot. Derrick the Deathfin is available now on the PSN for $7.99.

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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!

PlayStation Store Receives a Massive Restructuring; Goes Live October 23rd in NA

Sony just revealed this morning at the London press event that the PS3’s store will not only get new features, but also an entirely new and sleeker design. The design will be pushing for better publicity of titles utilizing the “Hero” concept, allowing certain titles to highlight on the store’s front page. Due to new technology, the store’s design will automatically scale to a variety of sizes and resolutions, giving everyone the optimal experience.

In terms of functionality, the search feature has been dramatically enhanced from the spotty one that’s currently in place. Thanks to the “smart” system, the new search feature will predict what it is you’re looking for as you type. Sony stated that the search feature will get better over time, allowing for misspellings and abbreviations to register for the content you’re looking for.

Aside from the search enhancements, categorizing how to browse content has also been upgraded. If you want to browse for a racing game that utilizes the PS Move peripheral for less than $19.99, you can do that thanks to arranging content by peripheral, genre and price. Lastly, when you access a specific game on the store, the page will not only display the game you’re interested in, but also all the content associated with it. This will allow for a much more streamlined approach and easier method of access to everything the game contains.

The PlayStation Store’s redesign is set for launch on October 17th in Europe and October 23rd in North America. What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments below!

[via Push Square]

“ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus” Producer Leaves Sony; Involvement with “The Last Guardian” Still Unknown

In a strange twist of events, the producer of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, Kenji Kaido, has left Sony and Team ICO behind. In a Twitter discussion with the acclaimed creator of Super Smash Bros., here’s what the conversation translated as:

Kaido: “I have some news. This August, I left Sony Computer Entertainment. My plans for the future are undecided as of now, but for the time being I’m going to continue my summer vacation.”

Sakurai: “Wha…what? Thanks for all of your hard work. I look forward to hearing about your new ventures.”

Kaido: “Thank you very much, I’m also excited about whatever I’m going to be doing next.”

While there’s no confirmation on whether or not Kaido was working on The Last Guardian, it surely doesn’t help the game’s image seeing as how two of the team’s visionaries have left the company within the last 12 months. Kaido was known for designing Cameltry and Sonic Blast Man for the game publisher Taito, prior to his work at Sony.

What do you guys think? Will this impact Team ICO in finishing up The Last Guardian or have no impact at all? Sound off in the comments below!

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault “GamesCom 2012” Trailer

At GamesCom 2012, Sony and Insomniac Games had the opportunity to showcase their first trailer for the upcoming title, Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault (“R&C: Q-Force” in EU). Check out the trailer below!


Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault is set for release later this Fall for the PS3 and PS Vita. As an added bonus, the game will be amongst the first set of games to receive the “Cross Buy” treatment where when you purchase the PS3 version, you’ll get the PS Vita version for free!

Excited for a new R&C? How about the fact that it will have the “Cross Buy” treatment? Sound off in the comments below!