E3 2011: Undead and Bloodshed, the Konami Round-Up
Last week, I sauntered up to Konami’s booth, crowds parting the way from my manly swagger. As I approached the table, with a gleam in my eye and a mischievous grin on my face, I demanded they show me what was up. Promptly, they responded, “Check this shit out.”
… okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly how it went down, but close enough.
Konami had three cornerstone games to show off, though, when I approached them. Three games worthy of highlight. After the jump, we’ll have a look at Never Dead, Silent Hill: Downpour, and No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise.
Never Dead had the distinction of being one of the few major titles this year that was actually an original, not a remake, a reboot, or a sequel.
The game is centered on the mercenary Bryce, who was cursed with immortality 500 years prior by a Demon King. Now his body is scarred and pitted by centuries of conflict, his humanity and patience at an end. He takes bounties on demons in exchange for material wealth, always hoping to find the Demon King and exact revenge on him for the family he lost to his curse all those years ago.
Along with Bryce is Arcadia, his human partner and link to the modern world.
Through Bryce can’t die, he can be captured, and Arcadia is only mortal. The missions are a series of bounty hunts, strung together with a bigger narrative in mind. You have to destroy the head demons of each mission, while being sure that Arcadia doesn’t die, and that Bryce isn’t captured. He can be captured if at any time his head is removed and subsequently eaten by a demon. But so long as he’s not eaten, Bryce is never without options. He loses limbs continually during combat, but can plant explosives in them and use them as weapons, or control them and send them off on solo missions. Once he’s done with them, the old limbs can be regenerated. Even as just a head, Bryce can roll around on the ground to pick-up or regenerate the remainder of his torso.
The interaction between Bryce and Arcadia reminds me of Helsing, the anime, with the relationship between Alucard and his new vampire ward. Likewise the game has a bleak sense of humor, with the snide and confident Bryce well aware of the ridiculousness of his condition; he enjoys taking advantage of it to slay demons, reveling in their deaths.
There are many things I like about the game. The humor is right up my alley, and graphically it looked fine, considering how many more tweaks the build is sure to get. My once complaint so far is that the controls are actually very counter-intuitive. When Bryce is using his guns, the left trigger fires the left gun, but the right shoulder fires the right gun. The right trigger rips off one of his arms and loads it with an explosive. … what? You couldn’t reverse those? As if that weren’t enough, the right analog stick, which controls the camera, becomes the sword-attack-stick when you’re in melee combat, and suddenly the camera is just stuck on auto-pilot, virtually immobile. I can’t tell you how many times I killed myself in the demo. Lets hope that gets looked into.
Silent Hill: Downpour
What’s different about this Silent Hill? Initially, I didn’t think there was much in the offering with this title, but then I realized that I was comparing it to Silent Hill 1-3, and had completely blocked 4-7 out of my mind like it was a prequel trilogy or something. Yes, Silent Hill 8 promises to bring the series back to its roots.
First off, it looks better, much better, than any other game in the series. This is finally an SH thats worthy of the genration. You play as a convict who’s bus happened to crash on the outskirts of the town, so you’re wounded, you’re unarmed, and you’re alone. This puts the emphasis squarely on survival-horror and exploration, something that’s been missed in the series with the last couple installments. You can only carry one weapon at a time, weapons break, townspeople can’t be trusted; everything is desperation and paranoia.
One other integration that the game promises which, sadly, wasn’t in the demo, is a world that alternates between day and night, normal and crazy-pants, at a moments notice, and is formed based on your play performance and in-game decisions. Exploring certain paths at certain times will open up new side-quests, and close off others.
Overall, the game sounds very interesting and ambitious, a return to the classic feel that so many gamers revere. But, in this world of survival-horror domination, can Silent Hill once again rise to the top of the heap?
No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise
This title contains one important difference from any other version of No More Heroes: it has blood.
To date, all of the No More Heroes games have been published by Ubisoft, but when it was announced Ubi wasn’t bringing the game back to the US, Konami snapped up the rights. Heroes’ Paradise is a remake of the first installment of the cult series from the Wii, with the added bonuses of 5 bosses lifted from part 2 into this game, and also Move compatible controls. So far, all of the games’ battles and cutscenes have been edited, but Konami felt that while they were tweaking the programming for US release, might as well uncensor the damn thing and put all the blood back in.
So, now, cartoony as the game may be, its still bloody as hell.
The gameplay is similar to the Wii version, only tweaked slightly to make it run smoothly on the dual shock controller. The Move controls are there, but minimal, mainly using the movement sensors to add to finishing combos. In addition, the game’s money system has been fixed so that players spend far less downtime between stages, fighting for jobs and coinage.
Blades of Time
The name and visual alone for this game perked my ears, but there was jack and shit about it at the show. I’ve seen some off-floor demos since then, and it looks like the action is very Devil May Cry-ish, with a new setting and very polished graphics. Not sure how, if at all, the ‘time’ element will factor into the game. We did get a glimpse at a teaser trailer, though, so I thought I’d share it: