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Tokyo Game Show 2013 Day 1 (Part Un)

Tokyo Game Show 2013 kicked off yesterday, and I was very excited to see what Sony and Microsoft had to offer. This is, after all, the year that their next-gen consoles are coming out (well, at least in the West). Being a PS3 owner, I had more to relate with Sony, and so their booth was the first place I checked out.

We got in a little late (the line at the media registration desk was the longest I'd ever seen), and most of the games already had 30 minute to 1 hour queues, except for a few not so well-known titles, one of which was surprisingly Drive Club. It had a 10 minute wait, so this is the game which was to be my official first experience with the PlayStation 4.

Dual Shock 4

Though sporting the general shape of older Sony controllers, it's been redesigned inside and out and looks quite different. It's probably the first major rethinking of the Dual Shock since they added analog sticks in the PS1 days. The material of the controller is not as smooth as the Dual Shock 3, and hence has more grip. The buttons, not including the option and share buttons, are made of rubber-like material, and particularly the shoulder buttons, have more play to them, possibly giving the controller the ability to sense a wider range of pressure. The select and start buttons are gone, but added to the DS4 are the previously mentioned option and share buttons, a touchpad (which also has a speaker), and a light sensor for use in conjunction with the PS Eye. It has a bit more heft to it, and overall it seems like a positive evolution from the old Dual Shocks which haven't changed significantly in decades.

Driveclub (PS4)
I wasn't too impressed with Driveclub. I think the focus of Drive Club is to be a "social" driving game, but this point wasn't driven home too well. Before playing the game, the PS Eye takes a picture of your face, and this acts as your avatar. Avatars are shown prior to the race, and if you win, your mug is displayed for everyone to see. Apart from that, no other social aspect of the game was presented.

As for the race itself, I was placed in a random 2 lap race and was told that another guy and I were competing with two other people for points. That was it. In terms of visual quality, yes, the cars were gorgeous, and a step up from Gran Turismo 5 or 6, though everything else didn't have the level of detail I'd imagine coming from a next generation system. 

Blacklight: Retribution (PS4)
This was the second game I tried. I had never heard of it before. I chose this next because it, too, had a short waiting time and had a cool logo.

It was basically a first-person shooter. Originally a free-to-play FPS for the PC, developers have decided to port the game to PS4. In my playthrough of the demo, I unfortunately didn't see what made this game unique from the sea of FPS games, but it provided me with more time with the DS4. In fairness though, it was a very well made FPS. It didn't feel rough around the edges, the visuals were decent, and controls were smooth. I did, however, run into a problem - the demo didn't allow me to change the Y-Axis to invert, so I couldn't shoot for the life of me.

Another aspect of the controller that this game let me experience was the touchpad. Swiping the touchpad makes your character perform a taunt. Not exactly an innovative use of the touchpad, but hey, at least I was able to try it out.

Gran Turismo 6 (PS3)

Next up was Gran Turismo 6 for the PS3. A demo of this was briefly available for download a couple of months ago. The only difference between the PSN demo and this one is that other cars and tracks were now available (The PSN version only lets you use two Nissan cars, and the only track it had was Silverstone, as far as I remember). 

Polyphony says that the game engine has been revamped. There is a new rendering engine, aerodynamics, suspension simulation, etc., yet the end result for me was not a major departure from 5. If there are differences, they will be minor for the average gamer and perhaps only noticeable to real race car drivers, assuming the changes are in realism.

One thing I did notice a change with is the racing line. Previously, the racing line was blue and would change to red when indicating braking point. Now there is a gray line which shows you when you have to maintain speed through a corner, such as after braking while turning into the apex. This should further help people figure out the proper approach to each turn.

Battlefield 4 (PS4?)

After GT6, it was time to take a break from the Sony booth. I walked around with my friend and found Battlefield 4 at the EA exhibit. At first I thought the system was running on PCs because of the PC monitors being used for the demos, but as I got closer, I noticed that they were using PS4 controllers. The system, however, was hidden, so it could have possibly been running on a PC.

Before being assigned to our demo stations in the booth, we had a mission briefing complete with fake American soldiers. We were told in drill sergeant fashion to watch a video which described a new game mode called Obliteration. In this mode, a bomb is randomly spawned on the map and two teams fight for control over it. Once retrieved, the bomb must be planted on one of the enemy bases. A team wins if they can blow up all three of their opponent's bases, or if they have more bases remaining when time runs out.

The demo was played with 30+ players and lasted about 10 minutes. Our team managed to win by blowing up all enemy bases. While it played mostly like Battlefield, I did notice a small change: bombs planted on targets now kill enemies. I found this out the hard way after rushing into a building with another teammate to try to disable a bomb planted on our base. When the bomb went off, we both died. That was a major surprise to me as bombs planted on MCOM stations in the past few Battlefield games were not lethal.

Graphics-wise, there was an improvement, and texture pop-in, which was a frequent occurrence on consoles, was totally nonexistent. However, I think the biggest difference was frame rate and the overall feel of the controls. It was significantly smoother than BF3 on PS3, and so were the controls. Maybe it could have been due to reduced lag, but whatever it was, it definitely made the the gameplay experience even better.

Oh, and I couldn't figure out how to spot people. Maybe it was the touchpad?


Time to move on to the Xbox booth…

Xbox One Controller

This one looked similar to the old 360 controller. In fact, from a distance, I couldn't tell the difference. The DS4's departure from its previous controller is more evident. Two things I really liked about the controller are the analog sticks and the rumble on the individual shoulder buttons. While the DS4's sticks are good, I really like the texture on the edges of the Xbox One's analog controls. They were made of some sort of hard, rough material, which felt like it would provide a bit more grip than having something softer. And as for the vibration on the buttons, I got a taste of it with Forza 5. The acceleration could be felt via rumble on the right trigger button. This could possibly bring a new level of immersion in games if utilized properly.

Forza 5 (Xbox One)

Another short 10 minute wait was the queue for this game, and hence the first Xbox One game I tried. Forza uses the Xbox One controller's vibration for the shoulder buttons and was implemented very well. But as a racing game, again, like Drive Club, what separated this from other racing games wasn't exactly clear. It certainly played well and the cars were beautiful… and that's all she wrote. I did hear some interesting things about F5 from articles on the internet, such as a system in which the game will give you hints for how to pass an opponent in real-time. However, I didn't see this in the demo.

As an example of next-gen graphics though, Forza 5 hit my expectations, and looked noticeably better than Drive Club. Nevertheless looks aren't everything, even in the world of video games.

Titanfall (Xbox One?)

This Xbox One title I would say is the best game I played at TGS this year. If you haven't seen it, it's essentially a futuristic FPS with mechs. 

In Titanfall, players are launched into battle on foot like any other FPS, but will later have access to a mech that can be deployed after a certain period of time has passed. When your mech is ready, you signal for it to be airdropped, after which you run to it and get in. I'm not sure if one could steal an opponent's mech, but if yes, that would be really cool.

Once in your mech, you can unleash hell on your enemies, but beware... an undetected opponent can easily jump on your trusty giant robot and ruin your day. I remember jumping on top of an enemy mech, shooting it in the head, and when it was weak enough, I was prompted to push a button that made my character place some sort of explosive device into the mech, destroying it in a spectacular display of demolition. 

But it wasn't just the mech gameplay that was awesome. Playing as a soldier on foot was also exciting. Your battlesuit allows you to jump super human heights and bounce off walls, making climbing to higher vantage points easy and fun. In a nutshell, I'd say Titanfall is like parkour with guns and giant robots. Doesn't that sound awesome? I don't believe I've seen an FPS do something like this before.

Like the Battlefield 4 demo, the system running Titanfall was hidden. Also, the controllers we used were for the Xbox 360. Perhaps it was actually running on a PC?

Killer Instinct (Xbox One)

My friend and I last year played the demo of Dead or Alive 5 at TGS, and he suggested that we make Killer Instinct our "fighting game of the year". He won last year's match, so I was glad I could serve him some payback this time around. 

I don't recall playing much of the original, but I did like this version. I remember Killer Instinct being combo-centric, and despite not really knowing what I was doing, I managed to pull out a few combos and combo breakers. To me, this was a sign that it wasn't a fighting game that would be too difficult to get into, like say, for example, Tekken. Additionally, the controls felt very polished, the impact of each hit was palpable, and the graphics looked fantastic as well. Definitely something I'd consider if I had an Xbox One.

Crimson Dragon (Xbox One)
The spiritual successor of Panzer Dragoon. I played this because it was right beside Killer Instinct and TGS was ending in the next half hour. It was a waste of time, unfortunate to say. I suppose if you liked Panzer Dragoon, you might enjoy this, but there was nothing impressive about it for me. It's an on-rails shooter where you can move your dragon a bit from side to side and up and down. My experience consisted of shooting some enemies, meeting an NPC teammate on a dragon, bland backgrounds, and occasionally avoiding an object here and there. That was pretty much it.

F1 2013 (Xbox 360)

Coming out in October for the PS3 and Xbox 360, I'm quite excited about the improved visuals and the classic F1 cars and tracks (available as DLC or with the Classic Edition). Great stuff! The demo I played on the 360 didn't appear to have the classic cars unlocked, so I used my favorite driver, Kimi Raikkonen, instead. I think I did him a disservice, though, finishing at a dismal 19th place. Since buying a G27 steering wheel, I can't race using controllers anymore!


That's it for now, but will be back for Part Two, Day Two, and more pictures in the coming days!

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