At this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, I got the chance to play three of Capcom’s upcoming titles, all of which were brand new entries in franchises of varied age and history.
However, not all three are being developed by Capcom! Both Lost Planet 3 and DmC, the latest in the Devil May Series, are being developed by Western studios, so I was intrigued to experience their take on these much loved games, especially given that Ninja Theory are in charge of all things DmC.
Of course, Resident Evil barely needs an introduction, with fans all over the globe – and rightly so, they’re great games – but I was very excited to gets some hands-on time with it, so let us start there.
Resident Evil 6
My tour began with the only title being developed internally at Capcom; Resident Evil 6. The fourth entry re-wrote the rules regarding action horror games and the action-heavy leaning was continued into the following game. Resident Evil 6 appears to be taking the best of what has come before it, in terms of both horror and action, in order to create a brand new experience.
The demo on offer consisted of three separate sections, each corresponding to one of the three story arcs you will follow in the game. The first saw you control Leon S. Kennedy shortly after he has to had to gun down an infected President of the United States. The second saw Chris Redfield in action in a Chinese city, with gameplay similar to that found in Resident Evil 5, whilst the third portion of the demo featured the new protagonist Jake, and I was told that his part of the game would fall somewhere inbetween Leon and Chris in terms of gameplay.
I managed to get some hands-on time with Leon’s section of the demo. Taking place in a country estate – similar to Camp David – following the outbreak of a zombie infection before a lavish banquet, the demo’s gameplay was most similar to that the early Resident Evil titles, bar the updated controls. Atmospheric lighting and sound cues, including an obligatory power cut and lightning strikes, attempted to create a sense of tension and fear that was some felt was missing in the more recent Resident Evil titles. With the only source of illumination at times being a small head-torch, there certainly were a few spine-tingling moments during the demo.
Following on from Resident Evil 5, co-op appears to be a large part of the game, with Leon being accompanied by an agent who appears to know more than she is letting on about the events surrounding the two of them. Co-operative actions were limited to opening doors and moving collapsed beams, but it’ll be interesting to see how Capcom handle the co-op in this more horror-focused area of the game.
The unknown was perhaps the most pertinent feature of the demo. Being a Resident Evil game you expected to encounter zombies around every corner, especially as the opening sees Leon have to shoot his (former by that point) employer. However, throughout the time I spent playing the demo I only encountered a small horde of the undead towards the very end of this section, and seeing as I only had a limited number of bullets (and no ammo pickups), taking on this shambling congregation was out of the question. Whether this will be continued throughout the course of Leon’s story arc (the demo presented at Microsoft’s E3 conference featured a more action-centric Leon) remains to be seen, but it certainly was a stark contrast to Leon’s last outing.
It certainly is refreshing to see Capcom return to Resident Evil’s routes. My only worry is that with three contrasting play styles, Resident Evil 6 may feel like three separate games rather than one coherent experience. Only time will tell, but if Capcom manage to converge all three story arcs successfully, this has the potential to be the definitive entry in the Resident Evil series.
Resident Evil 6 is set for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on October 2nd.
Devil May Cry (DmC)
Following on from the excellent Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, developer Ninja Theory have been given the opportunity to deliver their interpretation of Dante and the Devil May Cry series. Whilst fans may have had issues with Dante’s appearance, the proof is in the gameplay and it is here that DmC shines.
The section I got to play through is one that has already been seen in promotional material; Dante has been forcibly dragged into the world of Limbo by an over-zealous security camera (which in Limbo is a demonic, tentacled eye) and must fight off the marionette-style enemies which appear, before removing numerous “cameras” in a violent manner.
Alongside the series stalwart weapons – the dual pistols Ebony & Ivory and Dante’s long sword Rebellion – the teenage demon hunter now has access to a demonic axe and an angelic scythe. Both weapons handle differently and each one is required in order to dispatch certain enemies who are vulnerable to only one of the two; the axe favouring brute power over grace, whilst the scythe allows for fast-paced attacks. The two weapons can be used in combination with Dante’s pistols and Rebellion and it’s clear that a deep combo system is at work here for those who wish to discover it.
Complementing the expanded arsenal, Dante has a new angelic lift power and a demonic push. As well as traversing the environment, these moves can be used in combat, with the angelic lift being used to quickly close in on enemies, whilst the demonic alternative pulls enemies towards Dante. Crowd control is the name of the game here, singling out enemies to deliver devastating attacks, and there’s great satisfaction to be had from combining these two powers with Dante’s weapons. The hardcore soundtrack found in the earlier titles returns, with the music ramping up depending on how successful and lengthy your combo is.
Platforming was mostly limited to using the demonic pull to wrench out pieces of the environment in order to create makeshift platforms, before using the angelic lift to zip up to them. The end of my time with the demo took place in a church and saw Dante having to fully utilise his glide ability to leap from section to section as the church had decided it really didn’t like our silver-haired protagonist, and was attempting to dispatch him by simply collapsing the floor around him.
DmC is shaping up to be a fantastic title, one that stays true to the DNA of the originals whilst offering a slightly different take on what has come before. With fast and fluid combat, it is accessible to both those who simply want to look cool whilst wielding a sword and duel pistols, and those who want a bit more depth than your usual hack-n-slash game.
DmC is set for release for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 15th, 2013. A PC version is also set for 2013.
Lost Planet 3
The final game I got to play during my visit to Capcom’s E3 booth was Lost Planet 3. Eschewing the style of game seen in Lost Planet 2, this third entry is a more story-focused affair, with the protagonist a family man who has decided to relocate to the inhospitable ice planet that serves as the series locale as a means of providing for his family.
Within the few cutscenes present in the demo, I was quickly introduced to to the hard-nosed foreman, the cocky rival (who of course isn’t as confident as he makes out to be) and the spunky mechanic who enjoys tinkering with our hero’s mining rig, It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this mechanic provided you with the opportunity to upgrade your rig throughout the course of the game.
After a brief tutorial which walked you through the mechanics of your rig (one arm is a drill, similar to those of BioShock’s Big Daddies, whilst is the other is essentially a giant claw), the giant blast door that acts as the front entrance to the mining base opens and you are greeted with a vast, snowy landscape.
Movement across the barren ice field is slow and lumbering and before you know it a violent storm has frozen you to the spot. The only way to shift the ice is to hop out of the relative safety of the rig and shoot the pieces of frozen water off using your machine gun.
It’s at this point that some of the local wildlife decides to make an unwanted appearance. Jim is floored by the beast, which bares more than a passing resemblance to the panther/dog creatures from Avatar, and a QTE follows in which you must drive your knife into the creature’s gaping mouth. More soon follow, as they begin to strike you from all directions, resulting in disorientation and wild firing of your gun which does little to cease the attack.
Hop back in the now un-frozen rig however and it’s a different matter. You can use the machine’s claw arm to grab hold of the attacking creatures, before dispatching them using the aforementioned drill. Not exactly subtle, but it gets the job done.
The attack successfully fended off, you continue making your way towards your objective, forgoing the rig when faced with an impassable wall of ice. Instead, we makes use of a grappling device to traverse the cavern, and before long you find yourself in a large-open area, at which point you’re attacked by a rather large Akrid.
What follows is a relatively simple boss battle, with Jim rolling and dodging the Akrid’s attacks whilst at the same time firing away at glowing sections of the beast; its weak points. It wasn’t challenging by any stretch of the imagination, nor was it particularly inspiring.
However, the increased focus on story and potential to freely explore the icy wastelands does suggest that Lost Planet 3 is heading in the right direction. Although the boss-fight itself doesn’t break any new ground, the offensive capabilities of Jim’s rig does lend itself to the possibility of some exciting stand-offs with some of the larger Akrids which inhabit the planet. Lost Planet 3 is definitely one to watch.
Lost Planet 3 is set for release in 2013, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.