E3 2010: Namco Bandai Games (Impressions)

by: Tina -
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West follows a post-apocalyptic story based loosely on Journey to the West involving the involuntary escape of the protagonist named “Monkey.” Playing as the brute hero of the game, you encounter a technologically knowledgeable female named “Trip” who forces you via a fancy headband to accompany her on an escape adventure from the claws of the machine oppressors. Although most of humanity has been wiped out by said machines, the rusty fiends are still hardwired to attack humans on site, particularly given your unruly behavior.

The game focuses on co-operative play with your AI friend/foe, Trip. She’s not too useful in terms of combat, but she can get you around places that your relatively simple mind would not otherwise have come up with. For instance, although Monkey could sense that the field we were about to walk into was infested with mines, Trip was able to maneuver around them by creating a sensor device using a dragonfly she had you capture. Monkey would never have come up with that. He literally boasted that he only squished dragonflies in his spare time, not played with them.

Trip can also provide a distraction when you’re trying to make it across a platform. There is a lot of swinging on ropes and jumping from ledge to ledge involved in Enslaved, so issuing an order to Trip to call out to the enemies to gather their attention makes your imminent acrobatic tactics that much easier. Probably her most useful ability in combat is her EMP, which she can utilize to stun enemies with a shock wave. A very clear radial menu pulled up by the left trigger will allow you to judge and choose your options for Trip.

Even movement is heavily influenced by Trip’s presence. Most of the time will be spent either piggyback riding her through dangerous areas, or throwing her up to unreachable points of the map so that she can assist you in progressing. I threw Trip up past some broken walls so that she could lower a ladder for me to climb up, for instance. Part of the result of this particular focus on gameplay makes head-to-head combat less commonplace than you would expect, but rather encourages stealth movement.

When you do defeat enemies, however, you will collect red orbs that function to the equivalent of experience points that you can disperse throughout your special abilities. The only ability I was shown in the demo at E3, however, was Monkey’s ability to use long-ranged weaponry, which I am told can be upgraded.

The game has a great concept of having to play co-operatively, making it slightly more complex than most. What I would like to see, however, is more of an enthralling world to explore. Although it was clear that the area we were traversing in the E3 demo was a city overtaken by nature, it was nowhere near close to the barren realms of something like Fallout 3. I also wish that Trip was more of an entertaining fighter, and that perhaps you could switch to and from characters actively to respond to your environment accordingly and on queue.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is being developed by Ninja Theory, published by Namco Bandai and will be available this coming October for the 360 and PS3.

Splatterhouse

If there’s one thing that immediately intrigues me toward a video game, it’s definitely blood and gore. If there’s one thing the original Splatterhouse arcade game is known for, it’s also definitely the blood and gore. I was excited to check out a modernized version of this game on the E3 floor over at the Namco booth.

The core storyline and even gameplay remain fairly intact. Rick and his girlfriend become trapped in a mad scientist’s mansion, with Rick left for dead while his girlfriend is taken by Corrupted beings. Coming up from consciousness, a skeleton mask calls out to Rick promising to help him find and rescue his girlfriend so long as he puts the mask on.

The game is explained to me as “crazy, over the top gore,” and it is precisely that description that is most fitting of Splatterhouse. Rick can trap demons, and bludgeon them to death. Or, Rick can use one of the many other brutal melee weapons to smash the experimental-creatures-gone-wrong. Weapons vary from 2x4s to chainsaws to cleavers to limbs that you’ve torn off enemies.

Rick can complete various combos with these weapons, and can utilize his special moves such as turning his hands into scythes to slice his enemies down. When his special meter is fully charged, Rick will enter a rage mode that is visually represented by a change to a black and white environment save for the blood (of course). When Rick takes damage, his body slowly becomes shredded revealing the bones underneath and sometimes even losing limbs that regenerate with health. Everything about this game is aggressively delightful.

Splatterhouse is being developed and published by Namco Bandai Games and set to release this fall on the 360 and PS3. 
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