Those lovely people over at Paradox Interactive have been very busy, and they decided to let a few of us in on what they’ve got brewing…
Most of what they had was in alpha but still it was all very playable and looking very polished for this stage of development. Having some of the developers on hand to give us an insight into what they’ve got in store and the dedication to their projects was great. Six games in total were on show, but these three in particular caught my eye -
Showdown Effect -
Picture the scene – a dark night in what appears to be Tokyo, neon lights casting shadows in the alleyways and a grizzled cop wanders into view. He wanders through a door and is confronted by a knight in full armour ?!?. That’s when the shooting starts…
Bringing a sense of fun and with tongue firmly planted in it’s cheek, Showdown Effect is going to be a title to please fans of classic action movies and those that have a soft spot for the mayhem of such titles as ‘Small Arms’ and ‘Super Smash Bros’. If you’ve played these then you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect from this game. At it’s heart it’s a platform based multiplayer combat game, definitely not one for those looking for a quiet relaxing experience. If you’re looking for wall to wall mayhem then step right up.
Coming from Arrowhead Game Studios and Pixeldiet Entertainment, they’re definitely looking to put the a smile on your face with this one. With support for up to 8 players the action’s going to be fast paced, but also the attention to detail is great.
Each of the characters has “quips” that can be heard, and will make those who’ve viewed any of the classic action movies smile to themselves (or in some cases laugh out loud). The weapons are numerous with everything from handguns to rocket launchers on offer, although the ammunition for them is limited. This isn’t a problem though thanks to the game environments themselves. Find yourself out of ammo in the bar? Simple, pickup the nearby bar stool and beat your opponent to death with it. All of the environments have plenty of impromptu weapons to be picked up allowing you to vanquish your foe and utter an appropriate quip. For the fans of a certain Keanu Reeve’s starring movie, there’s even a bullet dodging mechanic on offer to allow for truly epic moments of awesome as you dodge an opponents onslaught then stab him with your katana, deliver your one liner and then crash out a window to go and “make someone’s day”.
The fun button has been firmly and repeatedly pressed when the guys were putting this one together and I can’t wait to see more of it. Although only on show with a limited demo, what was there shows fantastic promise.
Welcome to Dungeonland – the theme park for heroes, or at least that’s what the Evil Lord Dungeon Master wants them to think. What’s actually waiting for them when they wander off the train is certainly not fun and frolics, but more murder and mayhem…
That’s basically it as far as scene setting/premise goes for this colorful action RPG from Critical Studio, but you don’t need anymore than that, trust me. Playing as one of the three classic character types (rogue, warrior or mage) you and a couple of friends are in for a hacking and slashing treat. There are three different theme park environments to play through, although only one was on offer for us. Monster spawning is controlled by the Dungeon Master AI and is done on a random basis so no two games will play the same. The treasure chests are the same, so just because you found it in one spot last time doesn’t mean it’ll be there again. There’s loot to be had as you’d expect from a game of this ilk, with weapons and gear for each of the character types, some of it useful and some purely for aesthetic purposes – unless the warrior’s awesome ‘fro had some hidden power I wasn’t aware of…
Now, in the words of one of the developers, it’s possible to solo this game, but it’s going to be hard! With the inclusion of your friends things get a little easier, but not a lot. The Mage for example is a support type, so having a buddy control him when you’re playing the Warrior is a wondrous thing. The Mage has a “ray of awesome” (top marks on the name there) that grants the player it targets temporary invincibility, hit the Warrior with that and he can wade into the fray safe in the knowledge that he can dish out the pain in relative comfort. Don’t get too cocky though, as I said it’s temporary and once the ray wears off it takes a little while to recharge. As my fellow players and I found out, “regrouping” (or rather running away) can be a very handy life saving tactic on occasions. Health pickups are to be had in the form of sheep which can be killed to extract the green goodness or, if you fancy, thrown at an enemy, but that’s just mean.
The enemies themselves are wide in their variety and slightly bonkers in their form (but in a good way). Fire breathing purple dragon thing, you got it. Giant chicken, sure why not. Killer bunnies, yup they’re in there too. All of them hell bent on sending you and your friends back to where you came from. Some of the larger ones are “spawners” so getting rid of them first proved to be an essential tactic, otherwise we found ourselves overrun by the smaller more annoying versions. Remember these encounters are random so it’s not like you can remember what’s attacking you from where and then plan ahead. On the fly planning and attention to where you are in relation to your friends is going to win you the day more than the Rogue’s back stab ability or the Warrior charging through a swarm of killer bunnies.
Although there are only three character types to play, this game will actually support a fourth player in the form of the Dungeon Master. Playing as the park’s creator you’ll be directing the mayhem from afar and sending the hordes at your disposal to try and dispatch the heroes who have wandered into your trap. Sort of an action RPG twist on the classic DM role of the old pen and paper games, the idea here is not to destroy the heroes as quickly as possible, but to make it as fun as possible, and challenging at the same time. Certainly a role that I look forward to sampling myself.
This was a great game to play, with us being able to pick up the controllers and wade straight into the action without having to check control schemes etc. so the possibility for wide appeal is there. Admittedly we died quite a few times. Okay, we died a lot, but this didn’t annoy us, no-one was prepared to fling the pad across the room in anger. Instead we got stuck back into it and tried to work better as a team.
This is a PC title, but this would equally be at home on the Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network too. I can see this easily becoming the “pick up and play” title when you just fancy hanging with a few friends and having a few laughs. The fact that the multiplayer supports simultaneous local and online will only add to this.
War of the Roses –
Have you ever fancied donning a suit of armour and wading into the battlefield with your comrades at your side? Bored of all this new fangled technology for dealing death to the opposition? Well step right up and let the dev team over at Fatshark show you their wares…
Welcome to the War of the Roses.
Set during the rather turbulent time period of 15th Century England (but you knew that from history class, didn’t you?) this melee combat based game will have you taking to the fields, villages and castles to take back the country for your chosen side, be it the House of York or the House of Lancaster, for the historically challenged amongst you out there “the white team” and “the red team” respectively.
Although there’s a single player campaign to be played what was shown to us was the real “meat and potatoes” of the game – the multiplayer.
As you can imagine with a setting such as this, squading up and fighting as a unit is going to be the key to victory. Trying to lone wolf it and running into a village that’s got the enemy troops swarming all over it is just going to get you sliced, diced and generally turned into a human pin cushion in about 30 seconds flat. You’ll also find yourself on the receiving end of some choice words from your squad mates too…
The base models we had to play with had everything from a humble foot soldier kitted out with your standard sword, right they way up to a knight on horse back with a very large and deadly lance. Also don’t forget the ranged weapons of the era as well, the trusty longbow and it’s mechanical brother, the crossbow. There was a one-shot musket style lance (the name of which escapes me) on offer as well. Although this guaranteed pretty much a one shot kill, using it was a very hit/miss affair just like the real thing according to the producer on hand to talk us through the proceedings. In fact I’m just going to take a time out from the game here and say something about the team behind it. The level of research and dedication is phenomenal. I thought I knew a fair bit about medieval weaponry but quite frankly what these guys have discovered in the quest for authenticity and attention to detail is mind melting. I tip my hat to all of you. Bravo.
So let’s talk about those weapons then shall we? There’s a lot of ‘em for a start. And they’re all customisable too. You’re looking at over 60 different weapons spread over 15 different types. If you thought you spent a long time customising in the likes of CoD or Battlefield, you’ll spend just as long here looking for that perfect set-up of weapons that suit your style of play, or the position you’ve been assigned in your team (remember teamwork wins the day people!!). Coupled with the weapons choices on offer in the “create a class” system is the armour. Well, you wouldn’t want to go wandering into the battlefield without armour of some description, would you? That would just be silly! You’ve got your three basic classes, light, medium and heavy with a wealth of options to be chosen from. The helmets on offer have various crests, plumes and visors to have you tweaking away at until the wee small hours. The visors aren’t just for show either, they do actually offer you some extra protection when you put them down. Your field of view is limited as a result, but if it stops you getting an arrow in the face from a crafty bowman then it’s worth the risk.
You’ll find perks in the create a class system too, ranging from special gear to special moves. This adds even more to the pot. Effectively there’s something for everyone here – if you’ve got a particular way of playing you’ll find something that will suit you.
The combat takes a little while to get used to, but then it would after playing the usual shooters to death. Unless you pick one of the bows you can forget about aiming for a headshot, it’s time to get up close and personal in a rather spectacular fashion. Holding the left mouse button starts the swing process and then moving the mouse in one of the four main directions directs the attack. The length of time you hold the mouse button dictates the power and speed. As I said, this takes a little bit of getting used to, especially as each of the weapons on offer has certain sweet spots and attack ranges, but that’s to be expected. The handy little hud that the team have included is wonderful at aiding this. It pops up to indicate which direction you’re aiming in and the power as well, and after some practice you’ll soon be chopping chunks off the opposition in a rather satisfying fashion.
The bows have their own little quirks too. For example, the key to victory with the longbow at a distance is to remember that arrows drop, so learning to aim just above the target at a distance means you’re more likely to get that all important headshot (and I have to say it’s much more satisfying getting one here than in any of the shooters you care to mention). The crossbow has a neat “active reload” style system and a bit more power than the longbow, but that still drops too, just not as much.
As for how it plays, the answer to that is very well, very well indeed. I can honestly say that I enjoyed this far more than any of the modern shooters. The intensity of the experience you get from having to be in the middle of the action is awesome. Whether you’re in an open battlefield or fighting a running battle through a village, you’re never far away from dishing out some sharp pointy damage (or in my case receiving it… a lot!!). Once you’re down, there is a chance for one of your team to revive you, provided of course you don’t hit F3 to respawn immediately. However, if you don’t choose that option there’s always the risk that the opposition will wander over and execute you. I’m not going to tell you what happens there, you’ll have to experience that for yourself!
Should you find yourself on one of those open battlefields, you might want to try the option of mounted combat. That’s right, a trusty steed can be yours to ride triumphantly into battle and, as per everything else on hand, it’s customisable too. Yes, there is horse armour. But unlike the DLC associated with a well known RPG, this actually does protect your horse from damage and aid it in your quest to victory.
Even in this pre-alpha build, what was offered up to us was pretty good looking and well detailed. The audio was as you’d expect with suitable slashes and clashes accompanying the death dealing going on around you.
As you can probably tell, I was impressed with War of the Roses. This is definitely one to watch for if you’re a fan of team based combat or if you’re looking for a change from the usual headshot hungry shooter brigade. I’ll warn you though, I’m pretty handy with a pole axe now!
All in all there’s some good things coming from Paradox Interactive over the coming months. Make sure you keep them on your radar people, there’s bound to be something that you’ll find interesting. I’d like to thank them for a great day and the development guys for talking through their projects with very real passion, it’s certainly a great thing to see.