Thursday, August 09, 2007

Demo Thoughts: Eternal Sonata and Stranglehold (360)

Like many of you I downloaded both the Eternal Sonata and John Woo's Stranglehold demos and I thought I'd give my thoughts on them.

First up is Eternal Sonata, a game I have been looking forward to playing. The demo takes you through a section of the game and face a boss monster at the end. The battle sequence is pretty different in that you are given a certain amount of time to move and do actions before the next participant, whether friend or foe, begins their active time. There is a bit of strategy involved because the best option is to rush in to attack and then start to backtrack before your time is up so the enemy doesn't have an easy shot at you.

The graphics were really good in this game, but they really didn't make me feel like I was playing a next-gen caliber of game. It seems like a much sharper version of the Final Fantasy games from the original Playstation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because the colors are vibrant, but anyone looking for a graphical explosion is probably going to be disappointed.

The other thing I wonder is how much speech there will be in the game. Talking to NPCs was like the FF games of old where you read the information instead of a game like Oblivion where almost everything is spoken. This game is very old school in how it is presented. I am looking forward to this game and I will at least rent it depending on how long of a game it actually is.

I was really excited to play John Woo's Stranglehold to see whether the fears I outlined in my August Games Preview were true or not. After the demo, which actually is a pretty lengthy one, I am still worried about this game being too Max Payne for its own good. The graphics are impressive, but there are times where the character graphics actually look worse than those in Max Payne 2 which was released almost 4 years ago. I would expect some more realistic looking people from a next-gen game like this.

The gameplay itself was pretty fun, but I still think it is treading a bit too much on the Max Payne blueprint for my liking. The destructible environment is certainly a new thing. You can shoot at objects above enemy heads to kill them (they are highlighted with a shiny spot to show you can use it) and there is even a couple cool points where you are facing 3+ people at once and you go into a mini-game kind of section. You can move Tequila to the left or right to dodge bullets and then you can shoot the person (or an object to take them out) and you go to the next enemy. The other cool thing is when you get the precision aim ability and you can aim a shot and you watch the bullet go directly to where you aimed on the enemy. Those kinds of things certainly aren't in Max Payne and makes this game stand out a bit.

For what I played I was impressed by the game (I am a big Max Payne fan) and will at least rent it for the 360 (or the PS3 if I ever get one in order to get the Hard Boiled Blu-Ray disc). The cool montage after the demo is done shows some of the rest of the game and it does look good. Midway may push this into at least the good category, but I reserve judgment on whether they can deliver a great game or not.