By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot)
NY Comic-Con is here once more. Video games, comics and cosplay galore.
But as with every year during NYCC, Square-Enix was hosting their very own off-site press event, showcasing their latest and greatest titles for 2015 and beyond. This year had a very peculiar theme compared to last year’s press event and the year before that, however, as many of their titles were focused on action-adventure games of the FPS/TPS variety. The only exception to the lineup was the story-based adventure game “Life is Strange” which will be having its 5th and final episode released on October 20th.
Regardless of this year’s focus on action titles, I was more than eager to sample their line-up.
The first game that was shown off at the SE event was the 2016 reboot of Hitman. This reboot focuses on the classic Agent 47 as he travels the world in search of assassination targets. It is set to take the series into a bold new direction with more focus on creativity, as players can choose how to assassinate their targets.
In one demonstration, Agent 47 was seen stalking a criminal who was publicly disguised as a well-known fashion model manager. During a private runway show, Agent 47 had the option to dress up as a show floor staff member in order to get up close and personal with his target, or he could set up traps for his target, such as poisoning a plate of food which will cause the target to run off to a private bathroom. Perfect for getting a kill unseen from the public eye.
Of course, since I’m mostly terrible when it comes to stealth, I would have most likely ended up botching the assassination attempt and ruin everything by running & gunning (which of course, may not even be an option in most cases, as some assassination attempts will instantly be marked as a failure if players fail to make a clean kill.)
Regardless, the idea of being able to kill your own way was intriguing. The team at Io-Interactive wanted to emphasize this aspect of the game so much that they’re also introducing a unique asynchronous multiplayer function where players can assign NPC targets to other players all around the world. With player-created missions, other players can compare their assassination attempts with others to see who the better Agent 47 is. While I’m usually not fond of asynchronous multiplayer modes as they tend to feel like a glorified single player option, the idea of being able to watch assassination missions play out in so many different ways by many different players has me intrigued.
Next up was a preview for Just Cause 3, a sequel to the already amazing open-world sandbox action game where players can live out their action movie dreams in style. Playing as Rico Rodriguez for the third time, he revisits his hometown which has been overrun by a tyrannical dictator. With Rico’s new abilities such as a wingsuit and improved tether cables, and a more personal storyline where Rico sets out to take back his homeland from the dictator, Just Cause 3 is shaping up to be a big finale for the series.
In this presentation I was given a hands-on experience with the game’s latest build, running on a high-end gaming PC. As soon as the demo began, my first thought was that it’s a beautiful looking game, as the island of Medici was highly detailed with an incredible field of view. The island was just begging to be explored, and so I took off with my parachute on my back and a gun in each hand, just looking for cool areas to check out and stuff to blow up.
With the new wingsuit ability, traversing the island becomes a breathtaking experience as you soar across the villages, hills and mountains, essentially looking like a crazy superhero. However, using wingsuit in practice was a lot harder than it seemed. In order to use the wingsuit effectively, players must perform a tether shot towards a high structure or landmass and then pull themselves in. Before reaching the end of their tether, they must then release themselves using their parachute before switching to their wingsuit. Once they’re gliding in the air, they must keep themselves in flight by firing multiple tethers towards the ground or towards other buildings. It may seem simple, as one of the developers for Just Cause 3 demonstrated his skills with the wingsuit and made it look so easy, but I just wasn’t able to get the momentum going and was sadly forced to make Rico eat all sorts of dirt and pavement.
Despite my poor wingsuit skills, there was still a ton of fun to be had in this demo, as I was given a mission to take down an entire enemy base by myself. With Rico’s unlimited amount of C4, equipment supply drops that can be called in at any given moment, and the ability to use tethers to fling enemies across the map, taking down the base was a cinch, and a beautiful sight of death and destruction.
While this game has been shown off at several events before like E3 and Gamescom, and there’s plenty of preview footage and dev diaries that users can find online, I can humbly say that watching demos versus going hands-on into the adrenaline rush yourself does not compare. You simply have to play it for yourself to truly appreciate this chaotic masterpiece. With the game’s release set for December 1st of 2015, you won’t have to wait much longer.
Next up: I was treated to an exclusive first look at a new mission for the upcoming sci-fi action title Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. As the story goes: Adam Jensen is now an experienced covert agent and will be fighting against time, as he must choose his missions and his targets carefully in order to unravel a worldwide conspiracy. The first mission presented was a tutorial mission with new players venturing out to a secret location in Paris to help federal officers watch over a business deal being conducted by some shady characters. The deal quickly went to hell as augmented assassins showed up to tear everyone apart, and Adam had to jump in to break up the conflict. The second mission, while still located in Paris, focused on Adam using his augmented abilities to take down non-augmented enemies with both stealth and brute force.
The overall theme of Mankind Divided focuses on the separation of normal humans and augmented humans, as both kinds fight for survival. Seems like a pretty straightforward premise, but as the developers discuss more about the game’s story, they go on to say that Mankind Divided presents this theme as a way of expressing social issues that plague our society in the real world. They also go on to mention how the actions that players may or may not have expressed in the previous Deus Ex (Human Revolution) will be felt strongly in the sequel, regardless of which ending players may have finished the previous game with.
Last up: I got to try out a hands-on demo for the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to the rebooted 2013 action-adventure title Tomb Raider. In this demo, Lara Croft can be seen exploring a mysterious lost city, which was already being overrun by thieves who wanted to desecrate the ruins. So in comes Lara, who uses her new and classic traversal and combat skills to kill bad guys, dodge traps and find an ancient relic inside of the ruins, all before the site came crumbling down around her.
As for my personal thoughts on this game: I was impressed by overall presentation and gameplay, but not too impressed over innovation, as the game did feel (more or less) like the previous Tomb Raider title. The only main difference here was that Lara was not the frail human being that she was before. Now Lara is much more vicious in combat and more confident in her raiding skills, which gives obvious reference to the game’s title. Of course, it was merely a small demo for the game, so there could be much more to enjoy in the final release.
Overall, this year’s SE Media Event was a fun experience that showed off a handful of fun action titles that will appeal to chaotic, stealthy and adventurous gamers out there. I only wish that I could have had the chance to check out previews for the fifth episode of Life is Strange, but sadly I was running very late.
Of course, there’s plenty more chances for me to check the game out as Square-Enix will be having a booth at NYCC 2015 this week, so stay tuned for more details.