KiiGX: Part Two

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Kii’s coverage.

A continuation from my Part One!

Mortal Kombat X
I missed quite a lot of the Mortal Kombat series. I remember playing one of them when I was a kid but in my memory it’s just a sea of pixels. However, I did play Mortal Kombat 9 pretty extensively and later Injustice: Gods Among Us from the same development team.

Mortal Kombat X has made some pretty drastic changes right off the bat. Mainly being that at the end of Mortal Kombat 9 (Spoiler) they’re all fucking dead. Barely any of the roster actually made it to the end of the game thus, it was a pretty bold move to continue canonically with the series instead of having another reboot or ‘alternate dimension’ type deal. Due to this, we have an array of entirely new characters that people have never seen before and ones that have popped up in previous games but never been playable. Whereas MK9 was the complete series done right, MKX is the fresh blood it needs. And there’s lots of it.

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I managed to play through two battles, firstly as D’Vorah (Bug Lady) against a Subzero player (I won) and secondly as Ferra and Torr (Piggy Back Chums) against Adam on Cassie Cage (I let him win, mostly). Both characters are from the completely new roster, D’Vorah being a very quick and venomous assassin style and Ferra and Torr being more brute force. Both were extremely fun to play as, especially with the new system implemented in MKX where you have three styles of moves to choose from for each character. For example, with D’Vorah I could choose to focus on her venom, her strikes or her swarm and this gave me different combos and moves for the match. With a presumably smaller roster than previous games, though the total count isn’t in yet, I thought it was an excellent way to give more variation to the characters and keep repeated match ups interesting.

One thing that NetherRealm have brought over from Injustice is the interaction with the background mechanics. Again, this gives great variation to fights as not only do your characters and move set groups vary, but your stage is now much more than a pretty picture behind you. With Injustice, it was pretty obvious what you could grab and chuck at your opponent but I had forgotten about that mechanic entirely until Adam threw a corpse in my face that had washed up on a wave in the Kove. Since he hadn’t done it on purpose it was hard to replicate on the fly, however it was clearly a natural and fluid part of the fighting animation as there was no pregnant pause whilst Cassie Cage lifted said corpse and lobbed it in my direction with me standing there like a numpty.

All in all, it’s a hilariously fun game and I feel that Mortal Kombat X is a fantastic evolution of the series. It’s not often that a franchise has been able to stay around for so long and still be standing up in its own right against all the new and indie fighters that have come in its wake.

 

Sunset Overdrive
I’ll be honest it’s nice to have a good humoured shooter that is devoid of beige. Sunset Overdrive, as the E3 trailers showed, does not take itself very seriously. We played a kind of horde mode where you protected vats of energy drink from monsters that were people mutated by said energy drink. I adore the designs of the game; I played as a small lady with a military helmet adorned with bunny ears, pretty much an animated version of myself. The movement around the level is extremely fast-paced due to being able to grind on rails, hook onto overhead lines and zip line and each character having a really good jump. I hate realistic jump heights in ridiculous games.

We had a wide variety of weapons, all of which were unique and silly which was awesome. I was particularly fond of ‘The Over Compensator’, a fire gushing blunderbuss and because of my fiery over compensating I came second in our group. Fire not your thing? Don’t worry, I also got my hands on a rocket launcher that shot giant ethereal jade dragons and a gun that flung 10” vinyls. If you imagine that the Saints Row team were given LSD and some crayons, that’s pretty much what the weapon blueprints are like.

This is the game that had me interested in the Xbox One and I still really want to play the entire game. Nathan may find that the rest of the Lighthouse team have crashed his house to have a go.

 

Splatoon
Oddly enough, playing Splatoon after Sunset Overdrive, I felt a good few similarities. By no means are the game actually the same in game play or design, what I mean is that they are both bright, cheerful and fast-paced with unique ways of travelling through the level. Splatoon, being a Nintendo title, is extremely accessible to all ages and abilities. You play as an adorable little squid person who has an ink gun. The name of the game is to have the most floor coverage of your coloured ink by the end of the round. Kills actually mean very little, so if you’re just jumping around and ‘splating’ people but not getting your ink coverage then you’re not actually being any use to your team. On the flip side, if you’re playing with your little brother who isn’t very good, he can hang back and ink everything from a safe distance without having to be in contact with enemy players whilst still being helpful to your score.

Onto my aforementioned unique movement. Being an adorable little squid person, you can jump into your ink and swim around in it. This allows you to go up walls, under grates and into trees whilst being completely invisible to the enemy. One tactic I saw was a player sitting in a tiny ink spot that the enemy thought nothing of, when the opposing team had run ahead, the player jumped out and starting inking everything in the enemy base with their colour. So whilst the game looks childish, there can be some pretty decent strategies if you want all out squid warfare and thus isn’t patronising to more experienced players.

And then…

I was going to add a segment about Smash Bros since we managed to watch the final of a tournament whilst we queued for Splatoon. But who am I kidding, it looks great. It’s all I can really say on the matter, the cast is strong, the game play looks great and it’s really fun. I didn’t get to play it but I have been playing my demo copy on the 3DS almost non-stop. I was also insanely jealous of people on my street pass who had been playing the ‘Special Demo Copy’ which has all of the characters unlocked and that one Japanese guy who actually had the full game. I’m buying it, I’m playing it and no I will not shut up about it.

So, there we are. EGX as a whole. It was a fantastic experience and I’m so happy that The Lost Lighthouse got to attend. Adam and I were absolutely exhausted by the end of the day and I really wish that we could have covered more. Sadly we are merely human so until we evolve into mythical cyborgs we were destined to be, we’ll cover as much as physically possible (and maybe get more people to go to more days). I really enjoyed the show and I’m looking forward to being able to attend more.

On that note, Fenton and I are covering PlayExpo on the 11th October in Manchester! If you’re coming then feel free to say hi. I’ll be the tiny person with the Hylian Shield with the big guy who’ll be glued to Mortal Kombat X.

Kii

EGX Round Up – Part Two: The Order 1886 and Mortal Kombat X

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Adam’s coverage.

On to part two of my EGX round up from last Friday, where Kii and I received our first press passes to check out and cover the gaming expo. After a healthy dose of survival horror (see part one!) we went back down to the main floor to check out a few more games (and to give Kii a break from all the horror!).

 

The Order 1886

There were probably four games I was most looking forward to trying out at EGX. I have already talked about the first two, Alien Isolation and The Evil Within. The Order 1886, the Playstation 4 exclusive from Ready at Dawn and SCEA (due out February 2015), is another and the last I actually made it to. We wandered around for a while trying to figure out where it actually was, before realising it was in the same Playstation demo booth as Bloodborne (the other game I was very keen to try) and Until Dawn. So to try any of these three games you had to join the same queue, taking around 30 or 40 minutes, with an attendant coming through and splitting us up depending on the game we wanted to play. The Order was the most popular, so the queue was the longest, but to play another game in the same booth would mean re-queuing from the back of the line again. As such, I didn’t get the chance to play Bloodborne so we could get to some other game, but The Order was the game I really wanted to check out.

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The Order 1886 appears to involve a squad or division of enforcers that hunt and battle supernatural threats in an alternate, steampunk inspired Neo-Victorian London, utilising a variety of advanced weaponry (another character was using a weapons a lot like a Proton pack from Ghostbusters) to fight various creatures and violent criminals. In the demo, you play as Galahad (I’m not sure if you get the chance to play as multiple characters or just this mutton-chopped badass), and The Order join a group of constables who appear to be engaged in suppressing armed rebels or terrorists. Galahad is equipped with a Thermite rifle, which involves firing a combination of a flare at the enemy and spraying them with rapid-fire thermite rounds, which alone do little damage but upon contact with fire cause a huge ignition, setting enemies aflame. Lots of fun.

The demo doesn’t give too much away in terms of story, but hints at supernatural elements, for example a team member is grazed by a bullet and instantly heals the wound by drinking a tincture from a vial around his neck, and it shows off the Neo-Victorian environment. As this is just a snapshot of the game however, nothing is spoiled regarding where The Order are heading or why they are fighting these people. A succinct demo, that showed off the gameplay and the setting for the game, and left me wanting more by the end.

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The unique setting of The Order 1886 has me hooked, and I enjoyed the gameplay a lot. There was a fair amount of cover-based shooting, which isn’t a new mechanic but if you are going to use it it is important that it works and fits the game style. This felt like the system perfected by Gears of War, feeling heavy as you duck behind cover and move with all your gear without being sluggish. The only part that worried me was that around halfway through the demo the system froze, and one of the attendants came over and kindly rebooted it for me so I could start again from the beginning. A few minutes later, the same thing happened to the lady playing to my left. Now clearly this isn’t occurring on a level that is worrying the developers if they still felt they could show the demo at the expo (and it is a relatively early demo too), and it didn’t happen to me a second time through. But crashing for two people next to each other isn’t exactly a rare occurrence, unless it really was a total coincidence. However, I’m not worried as I am sure it is something Ready at Dawn are aware of, and with over four months before release I am confident that issues like this will be ironed out. Aside from that minor point, I am still very excited for The Order 1886 and will be keeping an eye on it as it gets closer to release.

 

Mortal Kombat X

This was actually one of the first games we tried out, while we were just wandering around the convention floor when we first arrived. Mortal Kombat X was developed by NetherRealm Studios, and we found it in one of the Playstation booths so played it on PS4, though it is also coming out on Xbox One. I won’t pretend that I play many fighting games anymore, but when I was younger I was pretty in to Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur and even way further back Killer Instinct on the SNES (I also love Smash Bros.). I never seem to buy new fighters because I only really get a lot of enjoyment playing with people live in the same room, but I always really enjoy them when I get the chance to play any beat em up round a friend’s house. The first trailer for Mortal Kombat X was very pretty and moody, so I was looking forward to the chance to try it out.

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Kii and I faced off against each other, she choose Ferra and Torr and I chose Cassie Cage, and we fought on a stage called ‘Kove’ (we get it Mortal Kombat. Everything has to be spelt with a K). The graphics were very nice, which only highlighted the gore to come, and the fighting stage was fun with a few things to throw and other interactions to try out. Kii was a lot better than me, as she plays fighters more often and there was some overlap with the DC Injustice: Gods Among Us game that NetherRealm also developed. However, I still won. Because I am a badass. Or she let me try out my X-ray move which put me at a significant advantage in the last round. Whatever.

This was a whole heap of violent fun, the X-ray mode particularly being hilariously gruesome. As we played this downstairs, we actually were trying the censored version of the demo, with the full version only being upstairs in the 18+ section. Fatalities were blocked on this version, resulting in a victory that lacked any sort of fanfare. However, aside from that I don’t see how this was a censored toned down version. The X-ray mode attacks were all insanely violent and gory. I think Cassie Cage’s involved popping the opponents testicles, which you got to see, and others showed hands being shoved into chests, ripping at internal organs.

Am I going to buy Mortal Kombat X? Probably not. Will I play the hell out of it when I visit Kii and allow her to beat the shit out of me on it? Definitely. If fighters are your thing, this is shaping up to be another great Mortal Kombat game.

 

Come back tomorrow for the final part of my EGX round up!

Adam

 

GBH: Round 1 – Fanfare

Our new contributor Fenton likes fighting games. He’s going to write about why.

Fewer things mean more to people than validation; where a lot of people struggle to find it, gamers have almost unlimited access to it whenever we play games. The proverbial pat on the back is especially meaningful in a fighting game environment where the players engage in short, intense and often challenging games. Fanfare is something often overlooked in fighting games because we take it for granted, but it is something we very much notice when it isn’t there.

One example of a lack of fanfare would be in NetherRealm’s smash-hit Injustice: Gods Among Us, a game that took many by surprise with its in-depth and competitive combat that ends in a lengthy unskippable outro so lacklustre that professional players will forfeit matches just to save time. To add to this problem, Injustice also has a announcer so heartless it may as well be a dial tone, which combined with its long victory screens makes for one of the few but obvious problems with the game.

While I’m hesitant to declare this in my first article, I must confess that I am not a huge fan of Street Fighter – HOWEVER I fully understand why it is so popular amongst fighting game pros and fans alike. The one thing I always give credit to Street Fighter for is making a spectacle of winning. Short but sweet victory poses, an awesome announcer (who is possibly more excited than you are) and immediate options to head into another fight or to change it up. Street Fighter is a game that truly feels like it wants you involved, the announcer constantly comments on the match to keep you engaged and on edge, the background flourishes for finishing with a big move and makes you want to end it with style. Even your character enjoys the win with well animated victory poses.

An interesting case would be any of Midway/NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat fighting games. The series stable of Fatalities adds the unique issue of having possibly the most exciting victories and the very worst. Achieving a Fatality brings a level of excitement in both winner and loser that’s hard to compare, the anticipation of “whats going to happen?!” is an adrenaline rush for everyone involved whilst being a sign of dominance and respect to your opponent. If you fail to achieve a fatality for whatever reason it’s almost more embarrassing to be the winner, even your opponent will be annoyed that you failed to kill them in a stylish way and instead clumsily kneed them in the elbow. I can’t think of another series that has such a unique issue, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I feel as if I picked on Injustice a little bit with this article but it’s exactly because I love it so much that this issue screams out to me. Many of the fighting games I play lately actually do lack exciting fanfare, this doesn’t make those games bad at all but I do wish that creators/developers would think more about how to make winning exciting for everyone, players and viewers alike.

Fenton