Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Year of Xbox Live Arcade

Greetings all! It is with great honor that I begin my entry into the realm of video game blogging for you. For all that do not know me, I am close friends with Nate and take video games almost as seriously as him. I look forward to any and all comments on my articles in the near future. With much pleasure, I post to you Part One of a two part Pax foray into the awesomeness that was Xbox Live gaming.

The Year of Xbox LIVE Arcade: A Tale from PAX East

I’ll be honest from the very beginning with all the incumbent readers I have had the pleasure of reaching out to, if there is one thing that has been spotty, lacking, and at times effortlessly incredible it is the function and creations that touch the Xbox Live Arcade. When deciding on the trek to PAX East, a mere 31 miles from my home, the expectancy was that games like Mafia II, Red Dead Redemption and Crackdown 2 would be the crème of the crop. I am happy and somewhat shocked to report that the Xbox Live Arcade was the steal of the show and helped to firmly supplant that they are the wave of the future for new and old gamers.

The first game that was on the docket was Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. From the creator of Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, Ska Studios once again covets the best of Xbox Live style with a dreary and depressing art form synonymous to a toned down Sin City - almost. Those who recall playing the first game will remember the moments where you seem bound to throw the controller in frustration. The game now allows you an easy mode, which will help to cure a portion of the controller throwing frustration. New with the second iteration is a character named Yuki, not only a visual treat to see a new character, but also bringing with her a completely new fighting scheme and weapons. The first game left a lower learning curve to be desired as well as a little more variation, and from the looks of the second game, we will see just that. Bosses receive their own introductions, ala a more toned down version of Borderlands, “Meet your next date” confrontational. All in all, the demo was short, but the one thing that drew to my attention was an area in one level that flashed words akin to things thought of when listening to “Fitter. Happier” by Radiohead, quite possibly my favorite band. Not having the ability to know whether or not this was intentional or not, the kitsch references alone I could take away from this game were more than enough to leave me wanting more.

The one last thing we can take away from Ska Studios is the inception of the Charlie Murder game, a rocking band brawler akin to a Castle Crashers or TMNT (the original arcade classic). This booth was a solid look into Ska Studios future and their powerhouse creator’s (James Silva) mind.

Shank was one of the close-to-the-door expo games that quickly received a large audience purely from its aesthetic. With a look akin to Samurai Jack, the lead character is a bandanaed man by the name of Shank. He faces a selection of tough guys ready to be vanquished by the handful and at the end of the demo you do end up facing a large Antonio Banderas look-alike by the name of Toro. There are portions of the game that not only become endearing for their multibutton pushes but also for their wide variety of results including grenade in mouth, or some nice gun play. The game also shines in the lighting and atmosphere, where in one part of the demo you end up fighting in the shadows, only looking at blackened creations of the characters you were using only moments before. The only downfall to Shank was the minute-long-demo and what looks to be a lack of environmental creativity. There will be more, soon, to follow on this game, as KLEI (creator of EETS: Chowdown, a previous entry on XBLA) has joined with EA to put this game on the arcade very soon.

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