August 21, 2011

The Last Word on X’11

X 11
As you may have noticed from the slew of hands-on posts, Sugar went to X’11 and played a bunch of delicious games—and we’re not done talking about them quite yet.

In addition to Binary Domain, Rise of Nightmares, and Dead Island, I had the opportunity to get my hands on a whole mess of other games—titles like Space Marine, and some other little indie games you might not have heard of, like Mass Effect 3 and Rage. If these are the sorts of things that interest you, you may click onward to unfurl my parchment of mighty gaming tales.

Warhammer 40000 Space Marine
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

Space Marine’s claim to fame, of course, is the seamless transition between hack-and-slash brawling and third-person shooting. Notably, Space Marine eschews a cover system in favor of faster, more in-the-thick-of-it gameplay, where the main character has a regenerating shield on top of a health bar that, by contrast, doesn’t rebound when diminished.

The demo largely involved ridiculous numbers of Orks charging at me with axes and hammers. They came in large waves, using sheer numbers to overwhelm me as I tried to thin their ranks with my assault rifle. It’s at this time that melee combat factors in, and fortunately switching between ranged and melee combat is simple and instantaneous.

Melee combat mixes heavy and light strikes to make combos or stun enemies, followed by finishing grabs to restore health—however, I wasn’t able to explore the depth of the combo system, so it remains to be seen how elaborate melee combat can be.

There’s an interesting novelty to switching on a whim between a shooting or brawling approach, and while I can’t say whether Space Marine will hold up under greater scrutiny, it entertained me for the ten minutes I played it—which is a good start.

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3

The demo at X’11 appeared to be an updated build of that shown at E3, and thus I can offer little insight that hasn’t been provided elsewhere since that event.

Still, I took the opportunity to peruse the skill-tree, a feature which has seen little clear discussion since the announcement of the game (almost certainly due to the shifting nature of development). What I saw suggested that the power evolution of the previous game has been taken to the next level; the particular stats of each power can now be customized within the progression system, allowing the effects of attacks to be fine tuned.

I also took note that one of my squadmates, Liara, possessed a consumable-based power called “Lift Orb” that had already been expended—meaning I could not try it for myself. The Bioware-man at my flank suggested it was some kind of “biotic grenade.”

The cover system has been extensively expanded, giving Commander Shepard an enhanced suite of actions from cover. I found that I sometimes moved in between cover in ways I did not intend, but this is probably a function of the fact that I’ve played with ME2’s cover system for over a hundred hours, and am not accustomed to the new features.

Mass Effect 3 looks to be growing quite nicely on the foundation of the previous game, while bringing back some of the more in-depth RPG elements that players may have missed from the first game in the series. We’ll see how it pans out when the game hits in March.


The first thing I noticed on this title was the bobblehead of the classic “Doomguy” on the dashboard of a vehicle as the demo began. The Bethesda gentleman at my side expressed relief that I did not mistake the Doomguy for the Master Chief, as apparently several others had.

I didn’t spend much time with Rage, but let me tell you what I noticed: this game runs well. Not “Oh wow, Crysis 2 actually runs on my Xbox” well, but locked at 60 frames well. Whatever wizardry they’re doing at id, they’re pretty good at it.

The game, of course, employs driving and first-person shooting in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and feels a lot like 2009’s Borderlands. One point of interest is the ability to use secondary weapons—such as the throwable wingstick—without lowering your gun, but what I really noticed were some of the design quirks. For example: instead of a traditional sight for my pistol, I was able to buy a monocular that—while ostensibly used to scout out locations—could be used to zoom in with the pistol and deliver the lead goods.

I suppose it’s not much of a revelation to say that Rage (set to launch in October) looks like it’s going to be cool—but yeah, Rage looks like it’s going to be cool.

Deus Ex Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution

After waiting well over a year to get my hands on this game, I have to say I shamed myself more than a little by playing it rather poorly. Human Revolution looks to emphasize exploration, and deliberate planning—something I realized while running out of ammo and battery power after dispatching only two guards. There are multiple paths, multiple strategies, and multiple abilities that can be employed to play the game, and I had to think carefully about them in order to not be left standing out in the open with no resources left to exploit.

As I rummaged about to restock myself, something that stood out to me was the design of the game’s supplementary material. I picked up a “newspaper”—which I place in quotations because the item was not so much news on paper as it was news on a paper-thin iPad—and immediately noticed that special care had been taken to design attractive logos and lay out the page like a true piece of editorial design.

This spoke to me as a designer, but more than this, denoted a clear impetus to craft a genuine, immersive world. Deus Ex felt real, and I walked away thinking about how that would inform my game experience much more than the feeling of the shooting or the comfort of the cover system—elements I might be inclined to put under a microscope in another title.

Important fact: the wait for Deus Ex: Human Revolution finally ends this Tuesday, August 23.

1 Comment »

  1. An id game running “well” on a console? That’s great news! What did they do, fire Carmack? Heh… I never understood why id couldn’t ever get their games running properly on consoles when everyone else could… I mean aren’t they supposed to be “superior”? Then again… I heard you need to install 22 gigs of data on your HDD to get it running properly?

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — August 22, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

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