Bravely Default Demo Ponderings

After a lengthy 3DS update a day or two ago, I downloaded the Bravely Default demo. Readers of this blog will know my love for JRPGs, and especially Square Enix. I’m hoping that the end of the horribly bad FFXIII franchise will signal better times for Squeenix, and by the look of Bravely Default, I could be right.

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I’ve probably only spent about two hours with it, but I’m really enjoying it. I love the side scrolling layout of the town/s, and the battle system is just what I like to see from a decent JRPG: some good ol’ turn based combat. I also absolutely adore the little sprite animation. I’m such a sucker for little chibi style characters, and I love the way that Squeenix have been taking the visuals of their handheld games recently.

It’s interesting to see the class system put into place so well, and implemented outside of a tactics game. I’m so used to the class system (black and white mages, warriors, ninjas etc) being in frustrating tactics games, that it’s quite refreshing to see it put into a straightforward JRPG. I know it’s been done before in other Final Fantasy games, but something about Bravely Default seems different. I can see that I’m going to be spending a lot of time leveling up certain classes and finding out my parties strengths in the future.

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It appears to have a few steep difficulty curves from the brief amount I’ve played, but that’s nothing a little bit of grinding can’t solve. I hate it when a game holds your hand and lets you sail through, so I’m looking forward to the challenge, and having the time to dedicate to it.

The main plot of the game isn’t really revealed in the demo, or at least it hasn’t been yet, but I’m excited to get my hands on it after Christmas. I’m in the period of time before Christmas where I give myself a self-imposed game buying ban, just in case I receive any from friends and family during the festive period. I’ll definitely be getting my order in for this as soon as I can though, as it’s been getting good reviews, and I really need a decent JRPG back in my life.

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Diablo III Demo Impressions

I had my reservations about Diablo III. Not because I doubted how good it would be, but because I doubted how easy it would be to play on a console. Traditionally, Diablo is a PC game, and I remember from playing World of Warcraft that PC gaming is all about hot keys, and assigning skills. Just imagine my pleasure at firing up the demo for Diablo III this afternoon and discovering not only an easy to use battle system, but a thoroughly enjoyable game, and interesting plot to boot.

I recall watching my Dad play Diablo on the PC when I was younger. I was always interested in watching him, but I never really wanted to play it. At this point I had been sucked into the world of Final Fantasy and the JRPG, so a Western dungeon looter was way off my radar. However, now that it’s come to my Xbox 360, I thought it was time to check it out.

After playing Torchlight when it first came out on the XBLA, I acquired a new appreciation for the dungeon looter genre. I loved putting as many things in my Tardis sized pockets as I could possibly find. I would sell all the rubbish, equip all the good stuff, and go shopping for new equipment at whatever chance I could get. Thankfully, Diablo III is much more than just a looting game, and it’s heaps of fun.

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The demo allows you to grind up to level 9, which is quite impressive already. It also lets you play for a good couple of hours, but only if you’re a serial looter and like to look down every nook and cranny. For something that is simply a taster of the game, I’ve been left wanting a lot more after being treated to so much.

At the start of the demo you can choose between a male/female barbarian, or a male/female wizard. Other character classes can be seen, but are grayed out so I presume they are not playable, unless you own the full game. As soon as you have chosen your character, and given him or her a name, you are thrown straight into the action, and start fighting your way through a small group of the undead.

Battling your way through these pesky flesh eaters leads you to a nearby town. In this town you meet up with the local knights, and of course offer your assistance in any way to rid the area of these rotting meat sacks. Soon enough, you’re sent out to deal with vomiting zombies in an attempt to at least alleviate the strain on the knights in the town.

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Now, no Western looter would be complete without a journey into an evil crypt, complete with ghosts, ghouls and ghastly things, so you soon find yourself traipsing off in a bid to help one of the characters you meet in the town. See, her adopted uncle has wandered off into a crypt. Not the best of ideas at any time, but certainly not during an outbreak of the undead. Naturally, you offer your assistance once more and head off in search of him.

This is the main part of the demo, allowing you to travel through huge levels of dungeon, fighting what seems like never-ending hordes of enemies. You know what though? It’s heaps of fun. With each level you gain in the demo you acquire new skills or spells, and of course you can equip bigger and better weapons and armour. New enemies jump out at you, forcing you to run away as you realise they’re not quite so easy to fall down as the frail skeletons you were attacking a moment ago.

My only criticism, and this isn’t necessarily to do with the demo, but the design of the game overall, is the inability to be able to alter the camera angle. I kept forgetting and either doing a forward or backwards roll, and it became more than a little frustrating. It’s a gaming pet peeve of mine, but it really would be nice to alter the camera angle and look at the world in a slightly different way.

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Overall, the Diablo III demo does exactly what it sets out to do; entice you, and make you want to buy it. Mere seconds after finishing the demo I made my way to Amazon to add it to my ever-increasing wish list so I can stalk the price to see if it goes down. An added bonus as well, is that the game allows you to transfer the character you used in the demo, into the full game should you purchase it in the future.

I for one am super excited to get my hands on Diablo III for some dungeon looting fun, but what about you? Are you like me and waiting a while for the price to drop? Or have you already bought it, and are loving it? Let me know down below.

DmC Demo Impressions

As soon as I saw that a demo for DmC had come out on Xbox Live yesterday, I ran to the controller, fired up my console and got right onto downloading that thing of beauty. To be perfectly honest, I had completely forgotten when it was coming out as well as what month it was thanks to stress at university. It took an age for the demo to download, but I finally got to play it at atound 11PM last night. Here are my thoughts on it;

First of all, I will say I’m still a little on the fence about this rehashed Dante. Only because I’m a fan of the Devil May Cry series and Dante should, to me, be in his big red trenchcoat, and have white hair. This ‘new’ Dante appears to have much the same attitude as the ‘old’ Dante however from what I gleamed last night. I think that DmC will have to be taken at face value, and as an indpendent game as opposed to a follow on if I am to enjoy it properly.

I was quite impressed with the ease of the battle system, and the variety of attacks that were available to me. The demo briefly explains to you that Dante is half angel, half demon, and this translates into his attacks. On one side you can use angel attacks which from what I could gather would mainly involve spinning around a scythe and attacking multiple enemies at once. On the other hand you could use devil attacks, which primarily seemed to be much heavier, bludgeoning attacks. For me, someone who likes to attack everything all at once, the angel attacks were really useful. Dante feels much faster during battles in this game than he has done in previous titles. Whether this is due to his ‘younger’ age or just an improvement in the system, it just feels as though he flows better throughout the battle scene even when using his heavy devil attacks.

Story wise, I’m not entirely sure what it’s all about as the demo didn’t give too much away, but from what I gather there is an anti-demon group, led by a strange masked figure who sends out cryptic video messages on the internet. This group are trying to send the demons back to where they came from. Who is the demon’s target? Dante of course, and as you travel along with an unnamed woman, you will enter different dimensions and be forced the fight demons as they manipulate the buildings and walls around you in an attempt to crush you between concrete.

I did get a little bit of a feel of Bayonetta with the changes in dimensions, mixed in with a dash of crudness from Dantes Inferno, which is by no means a bad thing, but I hope I won’t get that feeling through the whole game when it comes out in January.

All in all a pretty good demo that lets you play for quite a bit, and even lets you kick some demon boss ass one you complete the first section. If you’re a Devil May Cry fan, give DmC a go and let me know what you think of it too.

Alpha Impressions of Need For Speed Most Wanted on PS3

Today I decided to take a trip to Manchester in search of inspiration (and a plethora of leaflets) for my PR project at university. I trawled up and down Manchester trying to find horror themed leaflets, memorabilia, locations and tried (and failed) to get some free stuff. Of course I added in a little bit of shopping because it would have been rude not to, and I purchased a new book that will no doubt make its way to my ‘pile of shame’.

I’m rambling though. The point of this is that today I got play Need For Speed Most Wanted in a little pop up booth in Manchester. The game isn’t out until November 2nd, but there it was, available in multiplayer and single player. The game was only in its alpha stage so of course it wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough.

The guys at EA were very friendly and explained the whole concept of the game to me. I’m not used to playing racing games on the PS3, so I slightly missed the clunkiness of my Xbox controller, but I got on with it. After an initial console crash I got stuck into single player, swiftly plowing straight into a wall and wrecking my car instantly.

The first thing I noticed once I got into it however is that the cars I drove were very smooth handling. Almost a bit too smooth for my liking at times, but then that could have just been first time nerves and my lack of knowledge about the track. I played a few races to get used to the terrain and the controls. I have not played the first Most Wanted, but the closest I can compare this game to is Undercover in terms of visuals. It has a very arcade feel to it which is nice for those of us that do not like simulation racers and just want some fast cars in our lives.

The multiplayer took the form of a 3 stage competition. Whether this is what will happen in the released game I do not know, but this is what we did today. Our first event was a speed test which I am pleased to say I came first in with excessive use of NOS. Our second event was a race against each other. I believe I came fourth in that as there were some much better players there than me and I was once again far too busy nosediving into buildings to come first. Our final event was a jump test, but I believe I didn’t reach the meet point in time as I had been too busy driving off into the distance and getting some drifting action going on.

So far I don’t think that the Most Wanted looks as good as Hot Pursuit, but then I just love that game and it’s all about personal preference. When it comes to November 2nd I will definitely be giving it another go and seeing how much stuff I can destroy and how many drift points I can rack up.

The Death of the Demo – Megabits of Gaming Feature

The Death of The Demo – Posted 13/08/12 on Megabits of Gaming

I come from the era of video gamers who received demo discs with their monthly magazines. These discs always contained something new and exciting, and occasionally a little gem you perhaps had never heard of. There was a certain element of excitement as you knew something new was coming in the next issue of PlayStation magazine, and you were just itching to get your hands on the free discs contained within.

I still have many of my PS1 demo discs stored away somewhere. Why? Because these demos were so amazing, that I would play them for hours on end until I could afford to buy the full game. I remember playing the demos for Command & Conquer, Spider and some brightly coloured trippy game with a bouncing rabbit in it. These were a small piece of gaming glory that would leave you salivating for more. Playing a demo was like buying a small piece of cake, taking a bite and then running back to the buy the rest of it to experience its full flavor.

The glory days of the demo

The glory days of the demo

Unfortunately, this golden age appears to be coming to an end. The last few times I have picked up a gaming magazine I have been left disappointed. Sure, it’s had a disc and a little cheat book with it, but the contents of the disc really are nothing special. Within this thin circular container are a few trailers, perhaps some gamer avatars, oh and a demo for a game that’s been out for months. I feel both sad and robbed of my cash at this point. The excitement of the latest demo disc is gone, and replaced with the sloppy seconds of a game that apparently needs more promotion. It’s like the demo disc has turned into a cutting room floor compilation, housing whatever content could be put together at the last minute.

It’s not just the magazines that are failing to provide though. Even the Xbox Live Marketplace has considerably less frequent demo releases than it did before. There has also been a trend that has seen demos of games being released after the completed game has gone to store shelves. This feels like a very sneaky way for developers to boost sales and pique interest after release date, while frustrating those that bought the game blindly when it first came out.

This is what the world of demos has come to

This is what the world of demos has come to

It seems that only the most profitable games get a demo, while smaller games are left behind. Is no one making these little playable previews anymore? Do we really have to bury the demo and instead start a relationship with XBLA trials and just hope that each new release is going be mind-blowing? I for one am sick of paying £40 for a game I never got to play a preview of.

Duke Nukem and Deadly Premonition are just two examples that really could have done with allowing people to dip their toes into each world, and spare gamers a bit of cash. There are more than 300 downloadable demos available on the Xbox Marketplace, but this doesn’t really seem to be enough. Perhaps the world of gaming is too oversaturated with releases that creating a demo for every game would be nigh on impossible, but some form of attempt from the industry would be nice. Every film gets a trailer before it is released, so why is it that games don’t get demos anymore?

It feels like we have to rely on the opinions of website magazine previews in order to build our own judgment about new games. Gone are the days when we could do this for ourselves as a consumer.