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Capcom Captivate Round-Up

Capcom Captivate Round-Up

Last week, I was at Capcom’s Captivate event in Miami. There were two new games announced there – Dead Rising 2: Off The Record and Dragon’s Dogma, along with playable versions of Street Fighter x Tekken and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.

Asura’s Wrath was also on show while Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3DS was playable too. Even though The Mercenaries is only going to be available on 3DS, it’s worth mentioning because it’s actually pretty fun for a game on a rival console by a rival company that I should probably never ever acknowledge ever ever EVER because otherwise people shout at me and then I get upset and then I think bloody hell I’m not doing that again it’s just not worth the stress and then I do it again a few weeks later anyway and the cycle repeats itself.

Erm… what? Right. Yes. Games and that.

So, I did a lot of previews for NowGamer on those games while I was out there – click on the title below for the short, snappy previews of Dead Rising 2 and Operation Raccoon City. Each game will get meatier coverage fleshed out with interviews and anecdotes in Play but for now, here’s a quick round-up of everything that went on and my reaction to your… reactions. It makes sense when you read it. Honest.

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

I’m starting with this one because it was the most misunderstood. Capcom announced the new title with a trailer, which immediately sparked the cynical side of the press in the room. Isn’t this a bit cheeky? And a bit pointless? The general sense was we’re glad to see Frank West back, just not glad to see him being exploited.

Capcom Vancouver, the studio formerly known as Blue Castle Games, then showed some of the gameplay in a behind-closed-doors presentation that Play was invited to. This is where their vision made sense, as we saw it was a brand new game in an old area. New story, new psychopaths, new weapons, new combo cards, the photography mechanic is back, the co-op will be modeled on Dead Rising 2: Case West’s superior effort rather than Dead Rising 2 and so on.

There was also a song and dance made about the new mode that Capcom Vancouver couldn’t talk about. They were convinced it was a big deal, others less so. Given they didn’t actually say what the new mode was, convincing anyone of its worth will be hard but ultimately, it will likely have more worth to Capcom’s marketing team (“see guys! It does have new stuff!”) than something of actual value comparable to the main game itself. I say that because 1) I’m still cynical (old habits die hard), 2) there’s plenty of new stuff in there as it is and 3) Off The Record’s new story mode looks strong enough in any case.

Since coming back, I’ve heard ‘isn’t it just Dead Rising 2.5’ and ‘it’s just Dead Rising 2 with Frank isn’t it’ from work colleagues. No. It’s not. The way I’ve been describing it, and there’s probably a more suitable game that’s escaping me right now, is that it’s the second disc of Resident Evil 2. Which is to say, it’s a new game with old assets.

I’m convinced that Capcom Vancouver can get the cynical press on board when they do more presentations and demos and suchlike. Captivate proved that much. The hard part is getting cynical fans on board as well.

Also, and this is coming from a huge fighting games fan, Off The Record was the game at Captivate I’m most excited about.

Dragon’s Dogma

I’m actually writing a preview for Play on this right now which will go into more depth but one thing that I’ve realised as doing so is Dragon’s Dogma is going to struggle to escape comparisons. Lost Planet, Monster Hunter, Oblivion and Shadow of the Colossus were names being thrown around after Dragon Dogma’s presentation.

I don’t think games being compared to other games is necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it’s a sign of a lazy writer – and yes, I know, this is coming from the guy who has already mentioned four games here and used a Resident Evil 2 comparison above. But the point is that echoing other games isn’t always the damning sign we in the media sometimes think it is.

Dragon’s Dogma definitely feels like its own beast despite carrying the shadow of anything up to four other titles, depending on who you talk to. To quickly explain the comparisons then:

Lost Planet 2: Because it’s a team-versus-monsters game based on action controls and uses same MT Framework engine
Monster Hunter: Because it’s a multiplayer title based on exploration and fighting large monsters
Oblivion: Because anything with green fields and a medieval setting appears to get this comparison by default
Shadow of the Colossus: Because you can grab onto and climb up mythical monsters to hack away at them

So there you go. Quick side-note to all this: Capcom refused to confirm (or rather, talk about) any multiplayer aspect to Dragon’s Dogma, even though it’s clearly built with that in mind. This was just an announcement, so even having it playable at this stage was a welcome surprise, but Capcom is clearly keeping its cards close to its chest.

Still, with the scale of this project, the size of the team and the names involved (Kobayashi from DMC4, Itsuno from RE4), expect to be hearing a lot about this one in the year ahead.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

The black sheep of the games on show. Even now, I’m not sure where I stand on this one. I’m pretty sure I’ve changed my opinion at least three times since I’ve seen Operation Raccoon City. Hell, it’s changing again as I type.

Still, I’ve put together a feature for Play which goes into detail not only on the game itself and the mechanics but also the presentation, the multiplayer, what we played and I packed it with plenty of anecdotes. I’ve gone from a slightly different angle for it because ORC will be such a polarising title, I think it works better to help you make up your mind in this instance.

In any case, I wanted to ask about Resident Evil: Outbreak while I was there. In response to my Defending Resident Evil Outbreak article a while back, I was pointed in the direction of a huge forum group at Capcom Unity, fans desperate for anything on that game.

I asked Operation Raccoon City producer Kawata about why the team made Operation Raccoon City and not Outbreak, and he said: “We really wanted to create a new different type of experience. Certainly the Outbreak series is similar in a lot of ways but we don’t really feel that encapsulates everything this kind of game is about, so it definitely is a new and different experience. Something you haven’t seen even in the Outbreak series.”

Which is, you know, pretty vague.

More interesting was when I caught assistant producer Mike Ross and Capcom producer Rey Jiminez on the showroom floor. It wasn’t an interview environment and I wasn’t recording but I asked them about why the team went for Operation Raccoon City over Outbreak. Mike said it was mostly to do with the market dictating the circumstances but he added that he was a big fan of Outbreak and even acknowledged that there was a huge support group on Capcom Unity – something I never brought up. Weirder still, Rey then chipped in that he was also a big fan and added that Outbreak was ‘ahead of its time’ – the EXACT words I used in my Defending Resident Evil Outbreak article.

Which means that either 1) it’s a freaky coincidence or 2) they clearly know about the fan movement for Outbreak. Either way, I thought it was really interesting. Mike then added that a lot of the Outbreak team is in fact working on Operation Raccoon City and although I personally didn’t see much crossover between what I played and the Outbreak games, it’s nice info all the same. I should also say that Mike and Rey were awesome to talk to. Some producers can be a little stiff (ahem) and worry too much about sticking to the PR line but they were great fun, great to talk to and just great people in general.

Street Fighter x Tekken

I’ve done a huge gameplay notes article on Street Fighter x Tekken here:

So there’s not an awful lot I can add that isn’t covered there. One thing I don’t mention is what everyone else thought of the game. Generally speaking, everyone loved it. I thought it was good fun – quite fast, inventive combo system, not too defensive and the Tekken characters fit in well. Launchers don’t fit into the game particularly well and feel like a clumsy nod to the Tekken side of things but I suspect they might not even make it into the final build, or end up heavily altered if they do.

Yoshinori Ono said that we can report on anything we see but not to ask him about it, because he won’t talk. To me, that seemed like he was giving himself a get out clause to cut mechanics from the game. If he doesn’t verbally talk about them, then he’s essentially not really committing to them.

Asura’s Wrath

This one I didn’t do a NowGamer preview for, so I’ll go into more detail here. If you’ve played the most recent Naruto game, you’ll notice a lot of crossover. Asura’s Wrath is an action-adventure that focuses on huge boss battles, which are arena fights cut up by QTE events. The reason the Naruto boss battles are really well done. They convey a sense of scale and drama that is almost lost in the Naruto series because most gamers will avoid those games by default because they’re anime, therefore they’re kiddy, therefore they’re [insert other pre-conceived notion].

The boss battle we saw against the Buddha demi-god was essentially split up into three parts: running towards him and shooting, fighting him on the ground, QTE. The translator was giving commentary and explaining some of the game mechanics via the producer and there was one bit where Asura punches through the Buddha’s stomach, stretching out through his back, before the force of the blow sends the Buddha spiralling into orbit. A few seconds later, the camera cuts out to show the Buddha miles above Earth.

The translator then noted, in a completely deadpan voice, “the demi-god is now in space.” Brilliant.

It’s a perfect fit for Asura’s Wrath and hopefully, that will serve as a vehicle to deliver how well these guys do boss battles to a wider audience. I also love the studio, CyberConnect2 – there were humble, they were funny and they were endearing, genuinely passionate about their game and you can’t help but root for developers who you know really care.

It’s looking good for Asura’s Wrath so far, so fingers crossed the final game lives up to what we’ve seen so far.

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