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THQ Gamers Week Coverage - Day 1

Posted by: Matt at 1/20/2011 10:00 AM
Braving a cold January trip to New York last week for the THQ Gamers Week event I was optimistic about what would be on hand and playable for the gaming press. The first day of this event gave me hands on time with Red Faction: Armageddon, and De Blob 2, along with a short presentation of MX vs. ATV: Alive. After the unveiling of the new THQ logo, (which you can see here) the masses were cut loose to check out the games. Continue past the jump to get my hands on impressions. First up was some time with Red Faction: Armageddon.



    Those who have played Red Faction: Guerrilla will find themselves right at home in Armageddon. Building off the strong structure of assets and gameplay of Guerrilla, Armageddon has a strong focus on the destructive nature that the series is known for, with a new twist, the repair functionality found in multiplayer will make its way in to the single player campaign, allowing you to do cool stuff like rebuilding cover that might have fallen during combat.

    The mess you make can be caused by a variety of weapons, starting with the trademark hammer that is great for melee destruction. But the new weapons that have been added are really where the fun is at. First up is the Magnet Gun which fires two shots for effect, the first shot will place a target and then the second shot will fire an attractor that will pull whatever you tagged toward the attractor. This can be used to pull enemies around, or bring down buildings on top of them. Next up is the Nano Rifle that breaks down objects at a molecular level. Then there is a Plasma Beam that will melt anything it touches. And last but not least is the Singularity Cannon that will create a small black hole and suck objects in. The variety of weapons does a great job in spicing up the combat and allowed for some really creative kills. The magnet gun in particular is great for setting up some elaborate ways to eliminate enemies.

    Environments are as destructible as ever as shown in the demo level that simply acted as a playground to learn the new weapons. Getting in to the story line, players will fill up the boots of Darius Mason as he attempts to bring down cult leader Adam Hale who has unleashed a frightening horde of aliens on Mars. These aliens are quick to decimate the settlements of Mars and it's up to Darius to put a stop to it. The few levels I got to play took me through a Mars outpost that was being attacked by Hale's cult, an underground settlement that has been ravaged by the aliens, and a base that involved chasing down Hale while he sabotaged the settlement, forcing you to repair parts of the base along the way. There was also a brief stint in the power armor which was fun just tearing down hallways, knocking down walls, and flattening enemies.

    Red Faction: Armageddon will be shipping out for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in May 2011.

    Next up was a very brief on-stage demonstration of MX vs ATV: Alive, the newest game in the MX vs ATV series. Launching at a lower price point this May, the DLC will be a major focus for the title, allowing players the option to customize the game to be played how they wish to play it. Featuring an RPG styled development system for the riders, MX vs ATV: Alive looks to be all about how the player wishes to experience the game. There are new additions to the MX vs ATV engine that allows for real time track deformations, and a wreck-avoidance mechanic, in an attempt to make this the most realistic MX vs ATV game yet. We'll see how this all pans out when the game ships in May 2011 for the PS3, and Xbox 360.

 

    To close out the day we were given a hands on preview of De Blob 2, the sequel to the Wii exclusive released in 2008. This new title will be shipping out late February for the Wii, DS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The original De Blob was one of those Wii titles that slipped under my radar, and I was really unprepared for what the sequel had to offer, and came away intrigued. A platformer by nature that shares a few design elements from Capcom's Okami, where your character interacts and affects the world around them, De Blob 2 is a title that works well for core and casual gamers and does such a great job of trying to draw you in with its very distinctive style.

    The hands on demo gave us a quick look at the Soda Towers level, which had Blob working to eliminate the hostile takeover of several soda factories by the INKT Corporation. This is done by soaking up enough color to grow in size and navigating to the top of the soda tower and sneaking in through the pipes. Along the way you can paint the building to unlock doors and flush out the collectible Graydians. The Soda Tower level involved a significant amount of platforming in alternating 3D and 2D settings which helped to break up the level and provide a bit of variety. 3D areas consisted of exploring the outside of the soda factories and once inside the view switched to a 2D presentation that had levels designed like mazes that involved flushing out the soda factory to get some fresh product out instead of the junk that the INKT Corporation was pushing.

    The level had six different soda factories, each representing a different flavor and color that when completed gave Blob the tools needed to conquer the next factory. The level had quite a bit of exploration possible but this was hampered by a seemingly needless timer mechanic that seemed contradictory to the exploratory nature that this game has. When you'd run out of time in the level you'd restart from your last checkpoint with the same amount of time present as when you hit the checkpoint, so by the end of the level I was stuck trying to complete the final section of the stage with just over two minutes left, which made things a bit more complicated than necessary.

    Along the way INKT forces will show up to stop Blob from his coloring escapades and are dispatched in a variety of manners, using Blob's slam attack and roll attack. As someone who has not played the previous game it actually took a bit of time to figure out how to perform these attacks, granted I was placed knee-deep in to the game, I doubt the game would not make an effort to teach new players how to perform special attacks. I was also caught off guard by needing to have a certain amount of color so I could defeat enemies. The trade-off here is that it gave me more time to complete the level, so the exchange felt fair.

    Graphically the game is looking bright and colorful much like its predecessor, and the bump up to proper high definition makes the game look even better. De Blob 2 will also have a 3D option for the Xbox 360 and PS3 version, which did result in a slight loss of visual fidelity, mainly in the anti-aliasing department as jaggies were noticeable while using the 3D option. Considering how close the game is to launch, it's looking great and if you've got a 3D TV then the option for 3D visuals is a welcome bonus.

    The music of De Blob 2 follows the same energetic flow of the first game, where music is actually affected by how you paint the town. Each color represented a different musical instrument that you would get a small sample of as you paint an object, eventually bringing in the entirety of the musical track.

    With a little over a month to go before release, De Blob 2 is looking like a franchise worthy of revisiting. The timer mechanic feels like the only thing that might hamper the experience, but even then our time with the game was limited so perhaps it won't be as oppressive as initially thought. Kudos to THQ for taking a chance on bringing Blob and his companions to more gamers this coming February.