Sony had many games they were showing at PAX on the floor and behind closed doors, today I’m looking at four of them; Twisted Metal, Starhawk, LittleBIGPlanet (Vita) and Ruin (working title).
I may be the last person on earth who has never played a Twisted Metal title. Twisted Metal is a long running automotive combat series on the PlayStation. Sony set up a network multiplayer of the game. The level they had selected was called The Amusement Park, complete with a roller coaster, food stands and mascots running for their lives.
I chose a vehicle called The Axel which is pretty much just two giant wheels with guns. The match we were playing had two teams, each team having one random member marked as the “hunted.” While you would earn points for taking out other players, you got extra points for taking out the hunted target. You had an array of weapons, shotguns, homing missiles, etc., all of which you could pick up more ammo for as you drove around. Each vehicle has a special power. The special power for The Axel made the wheels squeeze in and spikes pop out turning you into a giant rolling spiked wheel.
Remember the “mascots running for their lives” I mentioned earlier? You can run them over for a small amount of points. At one point I became distracted and started chasing them around. The developer pointed out that they found their game testers doing that a lot too. I can empathize it was a fun in-match distraction. Of course I was so distracted by it I didn’t notice I was being targeted by the opposing team. BLAM, I was blown up into digital bits.
I kind of wish I had discovered Twisted Metal sooner. It is something I'm keeping an eye on.
To be quite honest when I first heard about Starhawk I thought it was just going to be a sequel to Warhawk. Talking to Senior Producer, Harvard Bonin, he said that since many members of the dev team were from the Warhawk team it was more of a spiritual successor.
While Warhawk was only online team-based warfare, Starhawk will include that plus a single player story. The story follows Emmett Graves, a former Rift Energy miner who is now a gun for hire. Emmett has been infected with Rift Energy after an attack on the family mine by the Outcasts. The Outcasts are people who have been mutated by Rift Energy infection. Emmett keeps his infection from spreading and mutating him further by a device created by his partner Sydney Cutter. Together they now help protect other miners from Outcast attacks.
Starhawk is a third person actions shooter with real time strategy elements. The player is Emmett on the ground fighting in the battles and helping set up Rift Energy mining. As the player collects Rift Energy they gain money to buy other offensive and defensive weaponry and buildings. You can buy bunkers, gun turrets; eventually you can even purchase a transforming jet fighter that allows you to fight from the air or the ground. This is where the real time strategy elements come in. Placement of defenses will not only have an effect on the outcome, but if chosen well, can make the battle easier.
While Warhawk never really caught on with me, Starhawk really has my curiosity up. From my brief time with it I really enjoyed it.
I’m of the mind that if Sony wants to introduce any new hardware from now on they have to make a LittleBIGPlanet game for it. When I first started reading about the rear touch screen on the PlayStation Vita I thought it was going to be a gimmick that maybe a couple games used, but nobody would really put to good use. Happily LittleBIGPlanet proves it can be very useful. Much like the other LittleBIGPlanet games, it takes advantage of all the hardware and uses it creatively.
In the intro level your Sackboy will come to a section of interlocking pieces that go to the top of the screen. To progress you have to push out pieces using the rear touchpad to allow him to jump up to the top. If you push out a wrong piece you can push it back in place using the front touch screen. There were other moments like that where I realized the right people with the right ideas can make this work.
The only sad part was that there will not be any cross platform use with LittleBIGPlanet on the PlayStation 3. Because of the unique controls on the Vita the levels created for LittleBIGPlanet 1 and 2 currently won’t work.
While I was interested in the PS Vita before, LittleBIGPlanet has really made me want to see more of what can be done with it.
Ruin (working title)
Ruin is a role playing, dungeon crawler game. The developer’s goal for the game is to take everything he loved about other dungeon crawlers and put it all in a game that brings you into the experience. To that end he showed me some of the special attacks and combos you can pull off with carefully timed button presses. Do it right and you get some very impressive and effective attacks.
He also explained that Ruin’s world is connected online at all times, monitoring what you do and how you play. You can gather items to take back to your base of operations to craft new and more powerful items. This is where things get interesting. The game will then announce to similar level players that you have this powerful item. If they choose, they can then attack your base and try to steal the item. If they are successful they get the item. You do have a chance to defend yourself and the whole time the attack is happening both players will gain experience points (though the winner will get bonus points) whether you are there or not. Optionally instead of just attacking, the opposing player can offer to put a powerful item of their own up for reward with the winner of the battle getting both items.
Now this sounded pretty cool, but the developer had another trick up his sleeve. While we were playing Ruin on the PlayStation 3 he told me it was being developed on the PlayStation Vita. I have to say, for a Vita game it looked good on the PlayStation 3, but it was more than just looks. He saved the game where we were at in the middle of a dungeon. After giving it a few seconds to upload the save to the “cloud” we moved over to the Vita. He loaded up the game and picked up exactly where we left off. Ruin just became the ultimate in portability of a game. Remember when I said you could defend your base when attacked? If you have Ruin on your Vita it will notify you of the attack and you can instantly jump in to battle. Ruin takes the game to a whole new level. You are not tied to home console. You can effectively go anywhere with it.
Sony defiantly showed that there some great things coming for the PlayStation 3 and Vita.