MCM Games, Part One (MCM London, October 2015 Coverage)

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Another MCM has drifted by and it is time to waft my opinion over some of the things that were there. Let us start with my forte, video games. Because of the shear amount of games that get shown off and talked about at the event I’ve split up the games into two parts. But, unlike other MCM’s there were very few large booths there. By my recollection, there was only one and that was “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate”. So rather then have a section for indies and another for larger, AAA titles, I’ve divided them up between ones that were part of the ‘Go Indies Games’ section and those that weren’t. I think the most obvious starting point of the games not part of the indie section would be the least indie game there, “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate”.

Being a liker of the Victorian setting and Steam-punk in general I was very interested in this game. I also had some hope that it would bring some much needed life back to the series. It’s safe to say that I didn’t get that. It is an ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game after all. It innovates at the same speed ‘Call of Duty’ does and they only just added boost jumps, something ‘Unreal Tournament’ did in the 90’s. Anyway, the game is far from bad. It was fun but it was going through the same motions as every other previous title. It did bug out on me. Was a pretty significant bug that could only by solved by force closing and restarting the whole demo. The bug was me changing my clothes at the mobile train base and the game not loading back from the clothes menu, getting stuck in a save/load cycle so it was black screen with only the UI visible. Not a good sign as it was released that weekend. Just like last time when I played Unity and MCM, Ubisoft showed off either a buggy demo or a game that is at best ‘Ehh’ and then forgettable because they want you to buy next years edition. That ends up being the problem with a series that is barely connected together with almost no carry over from one game to the next besides assassins, Templars and guns. Who do they think they are? James Bond?

The size of the Ass-Creed booth is always a good thing to compare to other similarly AAA title games there. Ubisoft, as a company, likes to make a show of it. This was exemplified by the half dozen cosplayers there dressed as Evie and Jacob Fry over the days. In comparison, “Dark Souls 3” only had a four screen booth and a life-size statue of the games player character. It had a line from beginning to end of the weekend so I didn’t get to play it. Although, having seen ‘Dark Souls’ 1, 2 and played “Bloodbourne” I can make a good guess that the style is going to be very Gothic, very dark with similar controls and mechanics while remaining a challenge. Not sure how much of a challenge it’s going to be for series veterans though, being the third instalment with a series spin-off on the PS4.

The only other large sections for AAA games were for Koei Tecmo and Rising Star Games. As per tradition by this point, I didn’t play any of the Koei Tecmo games as they are very similar in style and I can guess I’d like them but in my boring, stat-checking, min-maxing, follow list sort of way. Or at least from what I can remember the last time I played “Dynasty Warriors”. Rising Star Games on the other had was showing off their more indie collection of games being published under their name as well as some of their brand titles.

They had “Poncho”, “Zombie Vikings: Ragnrock Edition”, “Kromaia”, “Superbeat Xonix” as well as their three Hello Kitty games, (“Rock and Roll Tour”, “The Apron of Magic Rhythm Cooking” and “Kruisers”.) It may not shock you that I didn’t play the Hello Kitty games. My jaded, mid-twenties self if far from the aimed for demographic so there’s no great loss. I did play their other games.

Zombie Vikings: Ragnrock Edition” is a re-release of a game from the start of the year but now is coming to PS4. It’s a 4 player, 2.5D comedy beat-em-up and it’s pretty good but I’m not sure how much it stands out from the recent popularity of other 2.5D beat-em-ups.

Kromaia” is a free roaming bullet-hell shooter and it’s really good. It has a electro-digital style and great music. You can roam around shooting stuff and it always points you towards the objective to there’s no risk of getting lost. It does pay to explore as it is based around an arcade style system and bullet-hell power-ups. Although, you can still get by just going from objective to objective.

Superbeat Xonix” is a rhythm game for the PSVita. It reminded me of DDR more then anything but it’s play style is far from it. It’s less about speed and more about accuracy, built around timing presses, holds and swipes on the touch screen or button press and joystick waggles if you don’t want to use the touch screen. It is much more fun and a lot easer playing with the touch screen so part of me wonders if there could just be a mobile version for mobile devices. Like DDR it has a good selection of music with some good house, electro and club music.

Their last game they had was “Poncho”. I managed to get an interview with Rising Star Games about the game.

I’ve come to like the more indie booths at these events. Mainly because the developer, or someone directly connected to the developer, is actually there and is willing to talk or even be interviewed. It’s quite the difference to the Ubisoft booth that has only booth attendants that spout pre written lines. Even Rising Star Games had a guy there that people could talk to about the game. But at one booth, the sole developer wasn’t just there showing off his game, I ended up having a chat with him for half an hour or more. The one thing we talked about most was VR. That was because his game is the VR game “Caretaker”.

I was concerned about trying it out because I’d never used a VR headset before. They must have been too, having quite a few attendants and a box of sweets to help them come back to reality. Although, talking to the sole developer of the game, Byron Atkinson Jones of Xiotex, most were comfortable with the VR headset. “There were the few that put the head set on and went ‘oh god no’ and took it straight off but no one has fallen over or been sick.” Admittedly, I had a few wobbles with the headset but I have more steady footing than balance.

The game itself is interesting mix of puzzles, exploration, stealth and digital-space sci fi. You are a consciousness downloaded into the last remaining droid, floating in an alien structure that was meant to re-start the universe 20,000 years prior. But you are not alone. You are joined by another consciousness, voiced by David Hewlett, who guides you and tells the story of the facility. As you progress, more and more is revealed to until you have to decide whether to set off the machine and save the universe or not and not. Hearing what Byron plans to do in the game, and some of the things that has guided him to what hasn’t ended up in the game, is very interesting. The ambience of the game combined with the visuals is what makes it. On top of that is the calm tones of Hewlett telling you the story and putting in a fantastic performance.

There were a few brand name games about but they were scattered around by themselves. “BlazBlue” was about again. I like Arc System Works because of the “Guilty Gear” franchise so it was good to see it about. There was one that I didn’t know about, “Earth Defence Force”. They were showing off the latest patch/version of the game through local co-op on the PS4. I actually quite liked it. As a two player game it is pretty fun. Much fun can be had shooting giant monsters with a friend but doing it by yourself can be pretty boring. If you have a PS4 and friend to play with this might be one to get.

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