Friday, September 20, 2013

PAX Impressions: "Mighty Monday": Part 2

Part two will deal with PS4 launch title Knack and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which had its demo on the PS3.

This is the launch title for the PS4 that I wanted to play the most.  I'm not the only one since the line was at least an hour and a half.  Watching the people in front of me, I could see there were a few different levels in the demo.  After completing a section of one, it would jump to another part later in the game.  Each one had a different part of Knack's growth, from little knack getting the wood power-up, larger Knack with the wood power and a building sized Knack that could throw cars and was running around a city.  Most people got to play at least two sections...but not me (d'oh).

My portion of the demo was after Knack had acquired the wood power, so he was a step larger than his normal self while powered up.  It essence, the wood gave him a second health bar.  I made my way through the enemies and rudimentary platforming without much trouble, until the spear enemies appeared.  Before that, the enemies with crossbows were annoying since they back away from you while shooting, making it take longer to get to them since Knack doesn't really have a ranged attack.  Then the armored/ robot spear-toting enemies came in.  They would charge their lance and then throw it.  The first time one hit me, I died.  "Wow" I thought, "I didn't notice I was that low on health."  The next time, I grew suspicious.  The third time I specifically watched my health and the spear killed me in 1 hit (or did 75% damage, both of which are ridiculous).  Yeah, pretty stupid.  Knowing that, I targeted them first and went through without a hitch...until the next section.  I actually wanted to try it, since you fight the Shrek-looking orcs and you are outside.

Terrible enemies aside, I like that there were differing locales shown in the demo stages.  There was a cave, a wooden fortress and even a city block.  Knack's super moves were cool and useful, but if you die and restart a checkpoint, you don't get them back if you used them.  Another terrible decision, but hopefully they will change it for the release.  All in all, not bad, but not as fun as I had hoped.

Final Fantasy 13: Lightning Returns
I was fully expecting not to like this game, but came away pleasantly surprised and actually wanting to play more.  For a little background: I played and beat Final Fantasy 13.  I liked it enough, but it was far from the best FF game.  I only played the demo for Final Fantasy 13-2 (I do own it and will get to it one day), but really liked the changes they made (even though the main guy looks like he came from Kingdom Hearts).  Since I feel they are dragging out FF 13 for too many games (just about any other Final Fantasy game would be better), I was not expecting much from Lightning Returns.

However playing the demo changed that.  It was really fun.  You have 3 attacks and a block assigned to the face buttons.  Each attack costs a certain amount of your meter, so you have to weigh attacking more times or a stronger attack.  It's pretty action-oriented, so you will have to manually block enemies' attacks (hence the block button).  Multiple attacks can stagger an enemy, letting you do more damage.  If you've played FF13, the stagger concept should be familiar.

The best part, however, is that Lightning can equip 3 different "classes" (maybe more in the final build), and switch between them at will during battle.  All 3 have their own separate action bars, which makes the combat fluid and fun.  As a mage, throw a few high-powered fire spells, then switch to sword fighter (I don't remember the in-game class names, sorry) and unleash a flurry of weak attacks.  If they are still alive, switch to the third class and use their attack.  As long as you don't pick all of the costly attacks, you can keep up a near constant barrage of attacks to some poor sap.

The enemies you fight will appear on the map, and if you hit them with your sword, you will lower their HP before the battle starts.  Hitting them from behind will lower it even more.  However if an enemy catches you before you attack them, the battle will start with Lightning's HP lowered.  There's also some platforming and climbing over obstacles and whatnot to round out the demo.  I wasn't really interested in the game before, but now I'm hoping to play the final version, since it was surprisingly fun.

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