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Gaming Evolution

E3 2010: Square Enix Presents RPGs To Die For

June 22, 2010
- Square Enix was my big publisher for the day Ė arguably one of the biggest Japanese gaming companies in America, Square Enix was definitely not short of E3 previews this year. It also offered everyone their first glimpse at their first title in the popular Lara Croft universe. The titles I mainly focused on were Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, and Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days. Unfortunately, the demonstrations for Final Fantasy XIV were all booked up and there was little more for Deus Ex than a constantly repeating teaser trailer.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light has an adorable story book feel to it, but also helps represent a disturbing trend in the JRPG world. These games are getting dumbed down beyond belief and damn near play themselves! In this particular DS title, you gather up a party of 4 that you scarcely control. You tell them to attack or use spells, and they automatically do the best option for the situation. Spears and ranged melee attack the back row and healing spells automatically heal the weakest party member. Now I admit, this is an unfair assessment of an entire game given the length of the demo and perhaps by the end of the game, even with the auto-target style game play, there is still a chance for some exciting and challenging game play.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was a pretty closely guarded title. I once drew the ire of a Square Enix employee as I tried to photograph their wonderful little banner. So whatís the big deal they are trying to hide from everyone? Maybe itís the fact that Roxas is backÖ but itís not technically Roxas and the game is actually a prequel to the entire Kingdom Hearts IP!

As far as new innovations, I got to see a few. There are 3 different main characters with their own story paths (a seemingly common trend in JRPGs these days) and a new special move that lets you summon the power of a character not present and use a unique and powerful attack. Drawing on the power of Cinderella, for example, letís toss your keyblade around and control it remotely as it blasts through enemies left and right. Aside from there, they have also replaced Gummi Ships with strange and cool hoverboards. Iím sure many fans will be disappointed by the change, but with an open mind I think they could offer some interesting game play to the series.

The graphics look much the same as they always have and the sound is of the usual immense quality. Expect the typical lower end A- higher end B list celebrity voices- I was delighted to hear Mr. Leonard Nemoy and Iíve been assured it only gets better (OK maybe not betterÖbut equally awesome).

This ends my magical journey through JRPG Land as I venture into the nitty gritty grime of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days. I didnít get too much of a chance to play the single player story mode, but I was treated to a multiplayer bonanza! So- hereís what I saw!
  • Fragile Alliance: 8 player co-op, get the cash and get out! If you die, you get to come back as a cop and get some sweet, sweet revenge. Donít forget to betray your richest companion! Become a traitor, get the cash, and hop in the van!
  • Undercover: There is a mole in the alliance trying to stop the heist from the inside! If itís not you, seek them out and blast them to bits- guess wrong and YOU are the traitor! If you happen to be the mole, act natural then blow the whole thing as soon as you see the chance!
  • Cops & Robbers: This actually reminds me of Left 4 Dead a little bit- you take turns being cops and robbers- one trying to stop the heist and one trying to pull it off. You get 2 turns of each and after 4 rounds the winner is determined!

Mercifully, the game also gives players an Arcade Mode- which is essentially the multiplayer modes with bots to help build skill for single players before they compete in the real world.

Finally I got the chance to check out the latest non-Tomb Raider game. Square Enix was very adamant about letting gamers know that this is NOT the next big Tomb Raider flagship game. In their words this is something like a fun little adventure with Lara Croft to help tide gamers over until the next huge release.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an admittedly story-light adventure that begins with an ancient relic being stolen and a formidable Aztec warrior named Totec coming to life to retrieve it. Thankfully, he doesnít have to go it alone because everyoneís favorite hot-bodied tombÖexplorerÖ is right there to help him learn how to use an assault rifle and collect the magical artifacts needed to save the day!

The game plays like a classic top down action/adventure not entirely unlike the second generation Gauntlet games that infested arcades just over a decade ago. The big difference is the delightful and rewarding emphasis on cooperative game play. Totecís shield and spear, couple with Lara Croftís lightweight frame and web-shooter can reach new heights and solve deadly puzzles in this 6-8 hour long adventure!

Light on friends? Not to worry! You wonít get stuck babysitting an ill-mannered AI teammate, in single player mode, Totec lends the lovely Ms. Croft his ample spear *cough* and she makes good use of it to solve all her problems on her own!

Written By: Anthony Cara

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