I have no idea if this will be a regular thing. Depends on how many demos come out on a weekly basis. In any case, enjoy this roundup of recent demos.
SKATE – Jay tells me I’m not allowed to like this one because its name is SKATE. Also it is by EA. I don’t really give a damn. If you want to bury Tony Hawk into the ground, this is the way to do it. SKATE opts for a more realistic skating experience, without being too realistic. One joystick manages your body, the other the skatebaord itself. Most moves involve simple flicks of the joystick in various directions, in some facsimile of the motions for performing that trick on a real board. Grinds will vary depending on what angle you approach a rail from. Manuals require very gentle application of the stick. Execution is also critical – press X to gain speed, but press X hard and with a rhythm to gain even more speed. Performing a trick depends largely on how clean you can execute it.
All in all, SKATE takes some getting used to, and you are going to watch many a gruesome bail. But once you starting pulling off good lines, the game becomes miles more satisfying than THPS’ million point silliness. Toss in the ability to make your own skate vids, and there is a lot of potential here.
It’s curious – SKATE and Rock Band both seem to take the “more realistic, but not ultra realistic” approach to their genres, while Neversoft seems content to be as cartoony as possible with THPS and Guitar Hero. I’m wondering how long they’ll be able to keep up the crap.
Medal of Honor: Airborne – Silly me to trust EA with this one. I thought they might have had the MoH franchise on the right track again. Yeah, right. Airborne’s sole interesting concept – that you parachute into any part of the level – looks like it could be ruined by boring, confusing level design. It will then get ruined further by poor visuals, brain dead team AI that waits for you to clear out an area, and controls that are almost Call of Duty without actually being Call of Duty, making them confusing in the process. I expected so much better than this, though why I am not certain. The only redeeming thing about this demo was that it took place in Italy, a rarity in WW2 games.
Stuntman Ignition – A great concept that lacks in execution. I guess this is a bigger and better version of the original Stuntman. I really like the idea of driving through a ridiculous movie scene racking up points and watching a beautifully done replay of my work. It’s just a little too obsessive compulsive. Beating a stunt on a first run is nearly impossible – by the time the director tells you what to do, it might be too late. You can also get so worried about landing the highlighted stunts that you neglect to focus on the other things going on in the level, such as lava or falling cars.
Obviously, the game is meant to be continuously restarted and replayed until you get it right, but I’m not sure the payoff is there. The levels are big and crazy and beautiful, with enough going on from beginning to end that you don’t seem to get bored with the first chunk of a level as you struggle to complete the rest. Stuntman Ignition is a game that has scripted sequences and Disney ride antics because it has to (you are filming a movie after all), and somehow it works better than many other games, both racing or otherwise. I just don’t think this play style is for me anymore.
That’s it for this one folks. Next feature you can look forward to opinions on Stranglehold, Timeshift and Beautiful Katamari.