It should be established that I am not a fan of the genre as a whole, but Bayonetta particularly offends me. Bearing a strong resemblance to Devil May Cry, Bayonetta is a fighting game that is ridiculously Japanese. Using her hair to summon various mythical creatures and to assume the shape of different objects, the self-titled maiden bludgeons and combos her way through countless enemies. The player can fire handguns, though all of them from an annoying and twatty pose, either from her hands or ankles, and the bullets are underpowered. Bayonetta also has the boring old bullet-time (er... witch time = lame) and typical combo scoring tallies on screen. The screen is disgustingly garish and crowded and it is pretty hard to see what the hell is going on. Luckily, on the three easiest modes it is very, very easy so button-mashing will suffice for most. For some reason, Bayonetta wears glasses as well as using her hair to slap enemies about, but all these mental elements are hidden beneath a chaotic and repetitive magic fest on screen, and gathering any semblance of a plot or any sense of coherence from the demo is almost impossible. The events and cut-scene almost need a QTE (never thought I'd say that), because lots of action goes by with no player interaction at all. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who love this sort of thing, but most of Bayonetta's attractions are lost on me.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Yes, everyone here at Kombo is psyched about this title, so I don't want to crush everyone's dreams. Okay, so imagine what Super Mario World would be like with 4 players, floaty physics and improved visuals. Got it in your head? Well that's exactly what this game is. I suppose it's surely a good thing, but I get the impression that it lacks that certain magic that Mario so often delivers. Gone is the daring sense of imagination and adventure from Galaxy, and in its place is a cautious and accessible, but still enjoyable Mario game. The levels seem poorly designed for four players, and as most of the competitive elements have been removed from the game, cooperation is forced. More often than not, however, the game would be easier with only one player and a player waiting to be respawned is better off waiting until a safe moment rather than constantly coming back only to die in an already overcrowded level. The game also lacks an online mode (I was told by the rep), so loners should probably steer clear. This was the finished version that I played, and although I'm not even sure what I was expecting, I wasn't smiling as a normally do when I spend time with Mario, and I somehow came away from the session with no desire to return to the booth. Where has Nintendo's "bet you weren't expecting that to be so unbelievably amazing" magic dust go?
Most of what can be said about pre-release MAG can be summed up in Sascha's excellent hands-on, so there is very little that I can add to his sentiments. I really like the premise of this game, forming a good balance between the likes of Star Wars: Battlefront and COD4, with 256 players online. The server wasn't full when I played, but there were still close to 200 players in the game. The main criticism I have with my time with the game was that it was very difficult to understand what exactly was supposed to be doing and who I was supposed to be following. Put it down to my stupidity, sure, but there are plenty of other dim-witted tools like me that will need to be clearly shown what to do. What manifests is a chaotic battlefield with some nasty grenade-infested bottlenecks and chokepoints, but plenty of scope to approach tactics in different ways. I thought the engine and weight of the character was well complimented by sensible load-outs and well setup guns controls, and generally that this is going to be a competent and respectable title.
Dragon Age: Origins
Again, a hands-on already exists for this game; Kyle's article can be found
here. What immediately struck me about the game were the shoddy visuals, even in the character models. This was surprising, as screenshots look great and this comes following the pretty graphics of Mass Effect. The second impression I got was that this game is gigantic. Character customization is more detailed than any other Bioware game ever, and the game is chock full of dialogue, though some of it is wholly unnecessary and other portions are somewhat vulgar, not that I mind. The game appears to be an epic and massive dungeon crawler with booty galore, but disguised as a character RPG. It is more different than KOTOR and Mass Effect than I thought it would be, which in many ways is impressive and shows the diversity of Bioware. This game is clearly too large and complex to summarize in a hands on, and so I will have to wait until release to properly judge the game ï¿½ however, the first impressions that have slightly dampened my expectations would probably have excited those who are into dungeon crawlers.
Not necessarily a run of the mill third-person action game, The Saboteur is a WWII game with less focus on combat than most war games. The muted color palette is an attempt at a striking visual look, which is flattened a bit by an ugly, glowy bloom effect on certain models. Nevertheless, the game is nice enough to look at, and there are stealth and combat elements, as well as some light platforming. I'm not entirely sure what identity the game is aiming for, as aside from a perk-system there seems to be little more than "press this," "climb this" or "kill this" in the way of progression. I get the feeling that the first two levels aren't fully indicative of what is to come, so I expect more from later portions of the game. If history is your thing and shooters aren't, then this looks fairly promising.
Assassin's Creed 2 It looks fantastic, aside from frame-rate issues and a worrying similarity to the original's combat mechanic. Niggles aside, I loved the first one and this one played even better.
Saw It's out in America already, and it's also a completely unscary snore-a-thon that suffered from lighting issues and resembled something from 2003 but with better graphics.
Forza 3 and NFS:Shift Both have released already and were reviewed here on Kombo, and both of these games are just spectacularly good racers, easily meeting the high standard set by the excellent GRID.
AVATAR I'm not really sure what to make of it, but it certainly didn't show me anything to come away impressed by (apart from the 3D version).
BF: Bad Company 2 It's an improved version of the original, perhaps taking a little of 1943 into its quite silly but great fun multiplayer mode.
Lost Planet 2 I really did not like the original very much at all, but this sequel suggests the series is heading in a direction I'm more comfortable with, with a pretty snow-free environment.
Army of Two: 40th Day Again, the original was terrible, but this follow up apparently has grown up a little. Guns feel weightier and louder and some of the stupid pseudo-machoism has gone.
Left 4 Dead 2 I would have loved more than the ten minutes I had with the versus mode of L4D2, and the only observations of note I could take from this time was that the game looked too bright, it was fun to play as a charger and that it was almost identical to the original.