PAX 2010: Impressions and Opinions

Killzone 3

I admit, I was one of those sticks in the mud that couldn’t handle the control scheme of Killzone 2. Good news for me then that the latest instalment in the franchise, due to hit stores next February, seems to have addressed that very issue. The demo I played also looked pretty sharp given this game is still nearly six months out and the developers over at Guerilla definitely seem to have taken some cues from Modern Warfare 2 when it comes to the way the game handles. So combine the sharp visuals that have always been a hallmark of the series with the sharp controls and fast pace of other modern shooters and the result can only be some manner of good.

The other touted feature they were showing off was 3D, and here is where I have less than glowing things to say about the game. Now, it may just be due to my relatively poor eyesight and the complications of placing 3D glasses over regular glasses but I found the 3D to be kind of fuzzy, disorienting and not especially visually stunning as I’m sure its meant to be. I felt no more immersed in the world and was a little dizzy leaving the demo, even though I had them on for maybe ten minutes at most. I cannot see this as being a viable means of playing the game in its entirety, but I guess your mileage may vary in this department.

The levels they were showing off seemed to all be set in some kind of icy wasteland, with the requisite snow and fog one would expect from that setting. The weapons were all fairly commonplace shooter standbys, including a pistol and an assault rifle, in addition to a mini-gun utilized in a set-piece action moment where you are flown around a base full of Helghast. Everything felt right, the sound effects were solid and the frame-rate stayed consistently smooth. Basically, no nasty surprises were encountered in my time with the game.

While the 3D side of things isn’t looking so hot, that is really only a concern for crazy people with ultra-expensive televisions, so the rest of us can still anticipate Killzone 3 being a sharp-looking, easy to control FPS when it lands in February.

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Duke Nukem Forever

Well, its true, Duke Nukem Forever is officially a thing again and this time it is actually playable and on track to be released in the relatively near future. I’ve played it, and though I have limited first-hand experience with Mr. Nukem‘s previous works, I have a fairly good sense of the tone and crude nature of the comedy on display and I think its safe to say this new game will deliver plenty of that. That is to say there are a plethora of cheesy one-liners, crude sexual innuendos and firearms on display, so if that sounds like a good combination to you chances are you’ll really enjoy this game. The trailer I was shown prior to the demo showcased a stripper, a boss monster with no less than THREE mammary glands (IE, boobs) and a variety of pig-like monsters being beaten and shot to death.

After the trailer I was allowed to play the game for maybe ten minutes or so. It opens with Duke urinating (“hold RT to piss” helpfully pops up on the screen). You can then press X to leave the urinal but as near as I could tell you could continue pissing for as long as you found that amusing. I then left the washroom (didn’t wash my hands, though I’m told I most certainly could have) and I proceeded to erase a whiteboard, drink from a water fountain and chat it up with some cops. But yes, guns become useful shortly thereafter as you are forced to do battle with a giant rocket-launch toting creature in a football field. I noticed the rocket launcher you are provided with has a maximum ammo capacity of “69” and I am absolutely positive that is deliberate for the very reason you’d think it would be (also whether or not you find that funny is a good litmus test for how well this game’s sense of humour will resonate with you). I proceeded to circle strafe the creature firing rockets repeatedly until it eventually died, then kicked its eyeball for a successful field goal. I did appreciate that little gag.

Following this mildly amusing but kind of repetitive boss encounter I was loaded up into a completely different level , beginning with Duke driving a monster truck through a desert valley. You can boost in order to better dispose of pig-monsters but this section seemed a tad bland. As soon as you reach your destination you are told you no longer have any fuel and are thusly forced to continue on-foot. Here is where you get to try out some regular firearms, including a pistol, a shotgun and shrink-ray and a sniper rifle. These handle about as reliably as they do in any other game, though Duke is constantly spouting one-liners as you dispatch your foes. My favourite of these was something along the lines of “Would you kindly drop dead”, a nice little nod to 2K’s Bioshock series.

The level itself was quite linear and I breezed through it quite quickly. After gameplay stops we cut to Duke himself playing the game while receiving oral sex from a pair of blonde twins. Again, classy stuff here. The demo ends with a shot of Duke’s fly with the promise “It’s Going to be Big, Coming in 2011”. Again, the level of humour on display throughout the thing wasn’t especially to my liking but it does definitely seem to remember the crass and crude roots of the character and it looks like it will deliver a metric ton of blood, nudity and crude one-liners so Duke fans rejoice. I myself may well play through this when it is released as it is, if nothing else, something of a rarity in this day and age. Hats off to Gearbox for being willing to step up to the plate and polish this thing off.

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Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Well, its true, Duke Nukem Forever is officially a thing again and this time it is actually playable and on track to be released in the relatively near future. I’ve played it, and though I have limited first-hand experience with Mr. Nukem‘s previous works, I have a fairly good sense of the tone and crude nature of the comedy on display and I think its safe to say this new game will deliver plenty of that. That is to say there are a plethora of cheesy one-liners, crude sexual innuendos and firearms on display, so if that sounds like a good combination to you chances are you’ll really enjoy this game. The trailer I was shown prior to the demo showcased a stripper, a boss monster with no less than THREE mammary glands (IE, boobs) and a variety of pig-like monsters being beaten and shot to death.

After the trailer I was allowed to play the game for maybe ten minutes or so. It opens with Duke urinating (“hold RT to piss” helpfully pops up on the screen). You can then press X to leave the urinal but as near as I could tell you could continue pissing for as long as you found that amusing. I then left the washroom (didn’t wash my hands, though I’m told I most certainly could have) and I proceeded to erase a whiteboard, drink from a water fountain and chat it up with some cops. But yes, guns become useful shortly thereafter as you are forced to do battle with a giant rocket-launch toting creature in a football field. I noticed the rocket launcher you are provided with has a maximum ammo capacity of “69” and I am absolutely positive that is deliberate for the very reason you’d think it would be (also whether or not you find that funny is a good litmus test for how well this game’s sense of humour will resonate with you). I proceeded to circle strafe the creature firing rockets repeatedly until it eventually died, then kicked its eyeball for a successful field goal. I did appreciate that little gag.

Following this mildly amusing but kind of repetitive boss encounter I was loaded up into a completely different level , beginning with Duke driving a monster truck through a desert valley. You can boost in order to better dispose of pig-monsters but this section seemed a tad bland. As soon as you reach your destination you are told you no longer have any fuel and are thusly forced to continue on-foot. Here is where you get to try out some regular firearms, including a pistol, a shotgun and shrink-ray and a sniper rifle. These handle about as reliably as they do in any other game, though Duke is constantly spouting one-liners as you dispatch your foes. My favourite of these was something along the lines of “Would you kindly drop dead”, a nice little nod to 2K’s Bioshock series.

The level itself was quite linear and I breezed through it quite quickly. After gameplay stops we cut to Duke himself playing the game while receiving oral sex from a pair of blonde twins. Again, classy stuff here. The demo ends with a shot of Duke’s fly with the promise “It’s Going to be Big, Coming in 2011”. Again, the level of humour on display throughout the thing wasn’t especially to my liking but it does definitely seem to remember the crass and crude roots of the character and it looks like it will deliver a metric ton of blood, nudity and crude one-liners so Duke fans rejoice. I myself may well play through this when it is released as it is, if nothing else, something of a rarity in this day and age. Hats off to Gearbox for being willing to step up to the plate and polish this thing off.

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Dance Central

Oh Dance Central, I’m so looking forward to playing you extensively by myself in my basement as that is the only place I can whole-heartedly enjoy you without fear of ridicule due to my pudgy figure and general lack of rhythm and coordination. Still, I did eventually get up there and dance in front of dozens of on-lookers (played No Doubt’s Hella Good on easy mode) and I guess I did alright. I’m sure I looked tremendously silly, but then, that is kind of the point. Everyone playing this game looks ridiculous to some extent and I will say, the game did a good job of making me forget my surroundings and focus on the rapid-fire dance routines I needed to pull off in order to succeed.

Now, during my time in line waiting to play I got see every song they had in this demo and a variety of difficulty modes. This game gets extremely hard, tasking you to pull off some pretty complex manoeuvres in rapid succession without error in order to maintain a combo and achieve maximum points. What I went through on easy was cake in comparison, merely asking me to sway back and forth, throw my shoulders at the screen at times and occasionally bob my head and wave my arm around. Easy, but still quite physically involving, showcasing the uniquely activity-based gameplay one can look forward to from Kinect.

Graphically the game looks pretty sharp, though I’m hoping (and half-expecting) that in the final release you’ll be able to have a unique dancer that you can use in all songs. In this demo who the dancer was seemed dependant on the song choice, which would be truly annoying in the final release of the game. I would prefer to see some spooky approximation of myself dancing about onscreen so I’m hoping that will indeed be the case when the game releases in November.

The venues you dance in were nice and colourful, with a variety of elements bouncing to the beat of the song and crowds losing it in the background. It has a sharp look, easy to navigate menus and the soundtrack is shaping up to have some crowd-pleasers in there. What is already on display has me eagerly awaiting the full soundtrack announcement and Harmonix has already committed to some measure of post-release DLC so I feel good about the future of Dance Central. This looks to reinvigorate the dancing sub-genre of rhythm games in a really unique way and it remains the single best reason to consider picking up a Kinect bundle.

In addition, here is the list of songs that have already been confirmed, as reported on Giant Bomb:

Basement Jaxx – “Rendez-Vu”
Beastie Boys – “Body Movin’ (Fat Boy Slim Remix)”
Benny Benassi – “Satisfaction”
Bell Biv Divoe – “Poison”
Cascada – “Evacuate the Dancefloor”
Eric B. & Rakim – “Don’t Sweat the Technique”
Fannypack – “Hey Mami”
Kool & the Gang – “Jungle Boogie”
Kylie Minogue – “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”
Lady Gaga – “Poker Face”
Lipps Inc. – “Funky Town”
M.I.A. – “Galang ’05”
Nelly Furtado – “Maneater”
Nina Sky – “Move Ya Body”
No Doubt – “Hella Good”
Pitbull – “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”
Rhianna – “Pon De Replay”
Salt N’ Pepa – “Push It”
Snoop Dogg – “Drop it Like it’s Hot”
Techtronic – “Pump Up The Jam”
Young MC – “Bust a Move”

Nathaniel Rohr

Nathan has studied film and English at the University of Calgary (and the less prestigious, but pretty awesome, Mount Royal University). He has written film reviews and expressed thoughts on various topics via podcast on Top Down Perspective and here at Pixel Response for several years and hopes to do stuff like that for a living while perhaps realizing the dream of actually making a game or film or book or something someday. Vague ambitions keep them guessing folks.

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