Breaking the Habit: April 2012

Note: Due to a New Year’s resolution, I am restricting myself to one game purchase per month. This article is part of a series describing my choices.

Perhaps I was intoxicated with hype, but only one game on the April release schedule caught my eye. Sure, Skullgirls was generating some buzz, but I had just purchased a fighting game and wanted something different. Likewise, Phantom Breaker would have been excluded from consideration if it wasn’t delayed again. Seeing no opposition, here is my choice:

tw2_e32k10_screenshot_pack_4The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings

Platform: Xbox 360, Windows, Macintosh (Steam)
Developer: CD Projekt RED
US Publisher: Warner Bros.

Description: A role-playing game featuring a real-time combat system with a great deal of technique and which boasts a mature storyline that is heavily affected by the player’s actions.

+ 40 hour game length. Long enough to feel invested, short enough that I might actually finish it.
+ Descriptions of the combat system sounded fun.
+ CD Projekt RED is a small and honest developer fighting against the oppression of DRM!
+ It’s a story like Game of Thrones combined with gameplay similar to Dark Souls!
+ Lots of boobies and sex scenes featuring some mega hot Polish model playing as the main love interest.
+ I’m a total Microsoft fanboy and wanted a game that wasn’t on PS3. Am I being sarcastic? I have no idea!
– PC to Console port. Concerns about downgrades and interface changes.
– I was still really into Dark Souls, a somewhat similar RPG.

Conclusion: I bought the hype; I bought the game. An RPG with a mature story reminiscent of A Game of Thrones in a product that, unlike the actual Game of Thrones RPG, does not look like rubbish. Add in amazing combat like Dark Souls and a branching plot, and it was too much for me to resist.

After spending a couple hours with the tutorial, I was both intrigued and frustrated. The main character Geralt could do everything. The tutorial had me sword fighting, casting spells, setting traps, throwing bombs and daggers, parrying and rolling to avoid attacks, collecting herbs, and making potions. Unfortunately, the interface for switching between all of these options was somewhat awkward on a gamepad, and the controls never began to feel comfortable in this time.

The game itself began with Geralt sharing an intimate moment with main love interest Triss who was rolling around on a bed naked in such a way that nothing was left to the imagination. This may have been pleasing to watch if not for the stiff animations, blurry textures, and obvious polygon edges. Instead, it looked awkward and I felt like a teenage boy watching something naughty.

The botched eye candy led to a bit of humor when a messenger entered the tent to deliver a plot. Geralt reported to the king who was clearly trying to fill me in on some backstory as he told his advisors a bunch of stuff they likely already knew. When the king finished showing me what kind of person he was, I went to eat lunch, and swapped the game out for Dark Souls when I returned.

Despite anticipating the game for several months, I couldn’t get into it just then. Hopefully, I will revisit The Witcher 2 someday and find it to be as fascinating as so many claim.

I am disappointed with my purchase. I was trying to avoid buying games I do not play, and I was having too much fun with Dark Souls to be bothered with something similar. Furthermore, The Witcher 2 has been significantly discounted since release; I could buy it for less now if I was just going to stick it on a shelf. Finally, an April game I initially overlooked, Anomaly: Warzone Earth, turned out to be a lot of fun when I bought it several months later. Maybe I’ll do better research in the future.

Dodonpachi Saidaioujou Arrange Mode

Famitsu recently posted new information about the Arrange Mode (Console Mode) for CAVE’s arcade to Xbox 360 port of Dodonpachi Saidaioujou. Here is a translation from a member of the NeoGAF forums:

  • arrange mode is programmed by Ikeda, Ichimura and Yagawa, it’ll be totally different from previous arrange modes and will be focused on story, with voice acting by Aya Hirano
  • it will feature a new elemental doll, Saya
  • vertical scrolling, but 16:9 aspect ratio, like Jamestown and Gigawing
  • supports coop multiplayer up to 3 players (not specificed if online or offline), there’s only one score counter shared between players
  • there will be an anime intro, sung by Aya Hirano
  • Yagawa is in charge of the port (in previous games he only did arrange modes)
  • it’ll be their last game for 360
  • they’re working together with Microsoft
  • there will be a big announcement on March 2013

Saya, the new elemental doll from Ar Tonelico character designer Nagi Ryou, isn’t the creepiest thing they could have added to the game, but it’s close.

In a previous post, I commented on many of the obstacles that must be overcome to sell an arcade game to console gamers. Some of these issues (screen orientation and content) were also in the developer’s minds and have been addressed.

Also noteworthy is that CAVE’s three main developers are working together on the Arrange Mode since they typically work on separate projects. The increased developer attention combined with Microsoft’s involvement and the expensive additions (Anime intro, famous voice actor) suggest that CAVE and Microsoft are putting everything they can into this game. It will be interesting to see the finished product and consumer response.