December 28, 2011

Sweet’N Low – Difficult Loves

Shadows of the Damned
I’d like to suggest that no female videogame character suffered more in 2011 than Garcia Hotspur’s ladyfriend, Paula. Dragged to hell, desecrated by perverted demons, and paraded through the underworld in heels and stockings only to be torn apart again and again, I’m hard pressed to name another woman from any videogame that endured such unrelenting torture.

Cloaked in horror camp, Shadows of the Damned pushes plenty on the tongue-and-cheek train, but alongside the circus of comedic horrors, the perils of Paula serves as the centerpiece – the emphasis for Garcia’s demon stomping rampage. The game was certainly not content in presenting the iconic Princess in a gilded cage as the obligatory motivation.

Paula’s time within the game was split between playing the damsel in distress calling out to Garcia for help, being used as the white lace rabbit meant to lure him deeper down the demonic rabbit hole, and becoming the instrument of his destruction during chase sequences where a single possessed kiss from her lips ends his life.

What the player is often left with is a woman who falls into your arms while brandishing a knife, torn between whispering sweet nothings and cursing you for her suffering – and perhaps the familiar feeling that relationships are always a tad more complicated where Suda51 is involved.

While the comparison isn’t easy for the surface differences and thematic shift, I can’t help thinking about Travis Touchdown’s appraisal of Sylvia Christel from No More Heroes 2 –

Sylvia, I can’t figure you out.
You don’t like me?
I didn’t say that. But there’s a lot of things about you I don’t get: you lie, you’re greedy, you’re a fucking contradiction in heels.
You hate me?
Well, your personality kind of sucks.
So you -do- hate me.
…I’m fucking crazy about you.

Garcia uses the word crazy to paint a different picture of Paula, whom he is equally infatuated with while unable to question or comprehend the reasoning. Love is a many splendid things of course, none of which seem easy to explain.

I suppose a great deal can be written off given the agenda of infantile offence Shadows of the Damned pushes on the player. But it certainly sticks in my teeth while looking back over a year’s worth of releases.

October 20, 2010

Review – Vanquish

The squad of marines pushed forward as enemy grunts shimmered Soviet-era red from cover points along the hillside. At the peak, a giant robotic crab tossed wreckage indiscriminately, forcing me to rush between cover while pumping bullets into robotic soldiers never shy about disregarding their own safety to invade my personal space.

Quick melee attacks cut them in half easily enough – the trick is in making sure to finish the job, least their broken carcasses scurry along the ground hoping to detonate as close as possible.

About halfway up the hillside, a tower collapsed and spread more debris and smoke over the battlefield while a horde of enemy reinforcements broke through an opening to thwart my advance.

All that cover may make it seem worth stopping for a smoke break until the dust settles, and Sam Gideon is always willing to steal a few puffs whenever the moment presents itself, but sitting to wait the war out from a safe vantage point is rarely an option. Momentum encourages players to keep moving with a beat that begins the moment Sam crashes aboard the orbital space colony at the center of a fresh Russia vs. America conflict, and Vanquish uses every last enemy capable of carrying a weapon to keep your ass moving.

The achievement for surviving the first stage of the invasion is dubbed “Space Normandy” for good reason. Platinum Games has married the gritty realism of battle typically assigned to games based on the Second World War with the anime lasers and sheen of influences like Neo-Human Casshern to create a third-person Sci-Fi D-Day.

Along the way it becomes clear that the rumored irrelevance of Japanese videogame design continues to be greatly exaggerated, with Vanquish offering a level of exquisite mathematics that make trigger fingers tingle with a workout unmatched by heavier North American releases.


October 7, 2010

It’s Nearly Vanquish Time – Smoke ’em if You Got ’em

Sony held their annual Holiday preview event in Toronto this week, spreading this year’s wishlist for the PlayStation set around the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. A few titles that won’t be making it to shelves before 2011 were in attendance, such as Killzone 3 and LittleBigPlanet2, but the primary focus was on releases vying for your wallet before the end of 2010.

A quick tour around the building managed to reunite me with Vanquish, which meant a glimpse at a stage not available in the earlier released demo, which in turn gave me something new to think about regarding the game before it hits shelves on October 19th.

Soaking up the greenery this particular stage offered, I’m still pretty impressed by just how much seems to be going on within the game at any given moment, which makes AR mode something increasingly significant despite my initial doubts.


September 15, 2010

Shadows of the Damned

Filed under: News Feed — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 8:45 am

Shadows of the Damned
As the Tokyo Game Show prepares to get under way, we finally get a glimpse of what happens when Shinji Mikami and Suda 51 come together – complete with the sounds of Akira Yamaoka working the score. The action-horror title stars Garcia Hotspur, a hunter of demons who’s “wrath will bring hell to its knees.”

A blurb from the game’s site mentions combining Suda’s punk-rock style with Mikami’s horror designs – the tiny bit of gameplay in the first trailer earnestly looks like Resident Evil 4 plugged into No More Heroes, complete with absinthe vending machine. I’m going to guess that’s what they are going for since both those titles are cited at the start of this announcement trailer.

Take a look after the break and let me know what you think.


September 9, 2010

Demo Report – Vanquish

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 8:46 am

While the demo of Vanquish ends as quickly as it begins, it doesn’t take much time for Platinum Games to dangle another title mixing tight controls and sensory overload. This time around, Shinji Mikami and Atsushi Inaba seem to be catching up on the robot bashing Mikami expressed an interest in creating long ago, a void since left to be filled by cult favorite Gamecube title P.N.03 until now.

It has taken more than a few run-throughs, but Vanquish seems to use elements of P.N.03’s dance moves to create more of a hyper bullet ballet, though not in the ways I might have originally imagined when the title was first announced.


Powered by WordPress