EA Studio Showcase 07
Posted on Wednesday, September 12 @ 00:00:00 Eastern by Chris_Hudak
The Simpsons Game
There’s just no nice or uplifting way to say it: The majority of Simpsons video games thus far (with the thankful, glaring exception of Hit and Run) have been pretty lame and about as appetizing as a flat, discolored, warmed-over Krusty Burger. The simply-named The Simpsons Game looks to change that.
Spread over sixteen episodes in four acts, the idea is that the Simpsons have come to realize that their likenesses have been hijacked for presentation in — D’oh! — a video game (and not simply their ‘own’, but a series of parodies of high-profile, real-world games including Medal of Honor, Grand Theft Auto, Katamari Damacy, and pastiches of elements from others).
With surreal, Land of Chocolate environs, Japanese-style gameplay odes to “Mr. Sparkle” (complete with Comic Book Guy sumo wrestlers), and Pokémon-based battles against Jimbo, The Simpsons Game also has the references factor nailed down. The actual mechanics are a little on the simple side, but we have yet to see the final game. Even as it currently stands, however, the game definitely caters to the longtime Simpson fans with the sheer depth of its humor.
The Simpsons Game has a blazingly cartoonish, cel-shaded look, of course, and its combination of free-roaming and platform elements has generous amounts of original dialogue and cinematic sequences. It’s almost like getting two never-before-seen episodes.
Each of the principal characters has a range of appropriately-goofy powers:
- Homer can transform into a massive, lardy bowling ball of flesh or a ball of molten lava (courtesy of the Insanity Pepper), or can bust out with a mega-belch to neutralize his foes.
- Marge can use her megaphone to control hordes of on-screen characters and send devastating sonic waves, and don her cop costume and power-up the mobs.
- Bart has his slingshot, his Bartman alter-ego for hookshot, zipline and grappling-hook abilities, and can even employ a spectacular RoboBart power-up that gives him lethal laser eyes.
- Finally, Lisa can bust out with stunning saxophone melodies that can turn foes on each other or cause massive cyclones and even manifest as the Hand of Buddha, reaching down from the sky and ‘into’ the game to flick away pesky enemies or even re-make the landscape.
Hell (or Heaven) hath no fury like a spiky-haired eight-year-old chick scorned.
The Simpsons Game will ship for all console platforms (including PSP and DS versions), and will be available this coming October. It’s been a long, Duff-less dry spell since the last decent Simspons outing—and this is looking to be the long-awaited Flaming Moe of a game that virtual Springfieldians have been parched for.
And after those Krusty Burgers, thank God EA had a makeshift Moe’s Tavern waiting for us outside.
Surprisingly, the DS animation looks like the Tracy Ullman Simpsons, where the next-gen versions feature the modern Simpsons. You can tell that they have greatly reduced the character size to fit all that lovely Simpsons scenery into the background on the DS, but at least levels like the Land of Chocolate play just as lovely (and hilariously) as they do on the big screen.
The Simpsons Game will be a single-player outing on the DS, with a few action-oriented versus modes. Varying combinations of Barts and Homers square off in large, vertical deathmatch and capture-the-flag levels, in a lag-free translation of the platformer game.
Bart and Homer felt much like your typical 1990 side-scroller game, and I'm assured that Marge and Lisa will use the stylus. Extra DS features like an interactive map of Springfield and the much-anticipated Homer-Nintendogs parody offer their own unique yuks on Nintendo's touch-screen.
Left For Dead
The main event was Team Fortress II on a LAN of 360s. The game looks as lovely as ever, its Pixar-quality animation holding up even with a dozen people slugging and stabbing each other. I watched one spy chase down twice as many kills as any other player, and we both chuckled evilly every time his switchblade felled another unwitting soldier. It is a real treat to see that Xbox Live fans can join PC users in enjoying this addition. It adds great value for the Orange Box package, and from what I hear, PS3 owners will also get their chance at the action.
An offshoot room of the already offshoot Valve Lounge (which I believe in Europe is called a closet) was lit only by the glow of computer monitors - the hanging Left 4 Dead sign drew me right in. I immediately jumped onto a computer and started to fumble on the controls while my teammates ran around like friggin' Delta Force.
Left 4 Dead is a like mash-up of Counterstrike and Dawn of the Dead. Not the original Dawn from the 70's, the 2004 one where zombies run like Olympic sprinters. In the demo, we played as four gun-toting survivors, looking for a way out of a zombie-infested metropolis.
It is a wonderful take on Counterstrike. Bullets are still extremely lethal and the controls are tight as hell, but now you're up against a million disposable monsters. Sometimes a zombie will jump on a teammate, and you can help by shooting or bashing him off. Other times, your party will be ambushed by one of the four zombie heroes - like the Boomer. Don't shoot the Boomer unless you are standing a mile away, and don't shoot him if he's standing right next to your boy either. Sorry, team.
With only four levels, I hope Left 4 Dead is not as short as it sounds, or maybe they are expecting user-created levels to give the game legs. In any case, it was a riot to play, and the intensity and the co-op aspects are definitely there.
Army of Two
First things first. A lot of people complain that this game, with its two private military contractors, is really, really gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that! But I didn't see anything that was remotely gay, except for maybe the tank-top flak jackets. What the hell are you people on?
Anyway, whatever Gears of War lacks, Army of Two makes up, with a robust gun customization and more contextual co-op mechanics.
A meter that flat-out says "aggro" makes the focus crystal clear: EA Montreal wants you and your buddy to take point and flank every chance you get. In addition to shooting, you can feign death or make other plays which change the enemies' attention. I was taken aback by how stuff like aggro was just posted up there, but it seems like just the thing to help hardcore buddies explain strategy with their more casual teammates.
The armory was extremely impressive, with a dozen upgrades or more available for each gun. From first glance, I like how the weapons are organized into categories, and how they have so many upgrades. I am definitely putting a shotgun on my rifle "for kicks". Again, the best news was how the hardcore can reach out to the noobs, this time by lending your maxed out weapons to a friend for a whole mission.
Here, take this pistol... it fires pure agony.