Friday, February 16


Namco finally shows off its Big Gun.

After mucking about and giving its last installment a Dark Resurrection, Namco-Bandai's Tekken series finally moves on to a REAL sequel. The first time we saw signs of the sixth King of Iron Fist Tournament, it was just a CG 'concept' teaser. The second was an underwhelming trailer with graphics that really didn't impress at all (especially when placed side by side with graphics from competition like Virtua Fighter 5). But now, in a late-breaking development, Tekken 6 has finally reared it's not-at-all-ugly head from development mirk, to show up online in the form of a nifty official website, showing off two brand new characters, some screens and a slick trailer.

Hey! It's Vaan from Final Fantasy XII!

At first glance, Tekken 6 looks really slick, but once you give the trailer a closer look, some things are apparent. For starters, there are CG pre-rendered images along with the actual gameplay stuff. While the actual in-game character models are improved a bit from Tekken 5- mainly by being more rounded and smooth, and sporting lots of nice detail particularly with clothing- it's not a big departure from the last Tekken. There's that bit of 'plasticky skin' syndrome, as well as the usual lifeless eyes.
In short, it's better than before, but actually still inferior to the character models in the competition, AKA Virtua Fighter 5. I think it's mainly a bit of the details of character sculpting- faces are kinda iffy, and even females have HUGE hands. Perhaps it's the 'Tekken-ish' style of being a bit cartoony, still at work. Basically, it's still Tekken, for better or worse. As for animations, that is still up in the air. I hope that Namco went the extra mile and re-did their animations instead of recycling the same movements they've been using since Tekken Tag Tournamnet. We'll just have to see how this pans out when more gameplay footage is revealed.

Zafina brings her slinky fighting style to the table.

As for the new characters so far revealed- Leo looks like he just stepped off the Final Fantasy boat, with his blonde hair and effeminate looks. His overall look brings to mind Rock Howard from Fatal Fury; he definitely has this 'lone hero' feel- is he a new main character? As for fighting style, it's some kind of karate, not unlike Jin's. Probably the most intriguing thing about Leo though is... is he really a SHE? There's a growing suspicion among gamers that Leo just might be a girl in disguise. If so, this is probably a first in fighting games...
The second new face, Zafina, is a sexy female who sports predictably little clothing and, like Lili before her, a fighting style that's about as authentic and probable as Using the Force. She seems to slither, curling up in impossible twists and having some dangerous-looking special effects accompanying some of her major blows (though this may be shared by all the characters). Still, I can't complain about her looks. You can never have enough hot Tekken babes. Never. Heh.

Tekken 6 will supposedly feature the biggest character roster in the series, so Leo and Zafina won't be the last new fighters we'll see. Another feature is Character Customization, which will allow you to totally alter your character's look- the trailer shows Asuka transforming into a wild, punk ninja hybrid, while Gun Jack is seen with various parts that make him look like a humanoid tank. Hopefully Namco will take a page from Sega's book for some really cool and sexy custom characters. As for the actual fighting, I wasn't able to see much to judge whether Namco just recycled their animations again or if things are totally new. We'll just have to wait and see, but I'll just say that I'm hopeful. And I'll also say I want to see Soul Calibur IV too.

The website says that Tekken 6 will be out '2007', so we can only hope that Namco doesn't take too long to bring out this much-awaited new brawler. Let's see if it holds a candle to the reigning PS3 fighting champ. Round two in the battle of next-gen fighting juggernauts has begun.

To see what the next-gen of Tekken looks like, go to The Official Tekken 6 Website.
Home Arcade

My new toy, the Hori Real Arcade Pro Stick 3, with a Sixaxis controller as a size reference.

My first-ever specialized game accessory ever, an arcade-style stick controller called the Hori Real Arcade Pro Stick 3 (say that 3 times), arrived early today. Of course, the first thing I did once I got back home from work was plug it into the ol' PS3 and start playing Virtua Fighter 5. The stick works well, with a nice feel- though I have to admit it took a bit getting used to. Some characters seemed to take easily to being controlled by the stick, while some took a bit more work.
I should be getting used to the thing soon after a day or two of use. I'm still quite amazed at the size of the thing- it's quite substantial, able to cover up my whole lap with its size. It will be interesting to see how my VF5 game improves with this bad boy. Another thing this may be kinda cool to use with would be for driving games- the responsiveness seems to work well there. I should try to use this thing at every opportunity to get my money's worth from it. But what the heck- live a little, my friend always said. Heh.

Wednesday, February 14

Let loose the Cogs of War

Though I may be neck-deep into Virtua Fighter 5 on the PS3 these days, I got a bit of time to take a break from hand-to-hand martial arts combat and get into some relaxingly bloody firefights on my Xbox360. The game on point, Epic Games' gritty and bleak futuristic tactical third-person shooter, Gears of War.
Now, ever since it's release last November, GOW has been carving a name for itself as perhaps the Xbox360's best game- never mind Oblivion or Halo 2 or whatever... this game suddenly spread like wildfire, seemingly overnight becoming Microsoft's BFG in the war with Sony and the PS3. I got into this title late (not really a fan of shooters), but even just a couple of hours in, I can tell why.

Gears of War is set in the future, on a human-colonized planet called Sera. After a devastating war, mankind further gets pushed near total extinction during the event known as "Emergence Day", when a race of subterranean creatures known as The Locust Horde invade the surface. Ranging from brutish humanoid warriors to gigantic insect-like monsters, the Locust all have but one goal- to wipe out humanity from the face of the planet. The player takes the role of Marcus Fenix(who bears a striking resemblance to WWE Superstar Batista), a disgraced former soldier who is drafted back into the fray as the conflict reaches a turning point. With just your old friend Domingo Santiago or 'Dom', and two other members of the crack Delta Squad, you're tasked to save your race through a bloody, action-packed, multi-part campaign. Think Platoon or Full Metal Jacket meets Independence Day/War of the Worlds with a smattering of Starship Troopers and you get GOW.

What separates GOW from being a simple FPS (First-person Shooter) is that it is mainly played in Third Person, switching only to your characters' perspective when firing your weapon. A big part of the gameplay (in fact, integral to it) is the use of team tactics and cover. It is imperative to find cover and snipe at enemies from safe or at least less-dangerous vantage points, and to move into positions to outmaneuver your crafty enemies. Rushing in like Rambo is a no deal- you have to take things smartly, duck-and-shoot, roll-and-shoot, hide and outsmart the Locust as often as you'll face them. This is because for the most part you'll often be outnumbered and even outsized, and even short exposure to open enemy fire will result in death. Luckily, the game's intuitive controls make going from cover-to-cover easy, (everything is done with just one button) and soon after you begin the game you'll be moving like a seasoned vet in no time. Also important, and a minigame in itself, is the simple act of reloading your weapon. Press the reload button at the right time when an onscreen meter flashes and you'll reload extra fast- miss your mark and your weapon will jam for a bit, which just may be the difference between life or death. Ouch.

Visually, the game looks quite amazing- easily the 360's best-looking game, and it even outdos most PS3 games as well. Whether it's on standard TVs or HD TVs, GOW looks smashing, with hyper-detailed character models and environments communicating perfectly a ravaged earth being fought over tooth and nail by human and monster. That translates to sound as well, with guttural bellows and grunts mixing with your characters' cusses and cries, over rapid gunfire and explosions. War may be hell, but it's damn interesting to hear.

There are two images I'll easily remember of GOW right off the bat- seeing your character do a 'roadie run', where the camera takes a behind-and-beneath the character point-of-view as he makes a mad dash for the next bit of cover; it captures perfectly the look and feel of a handheld camera, as if some unseen war correspondent was hobbling behind Fenix as he runs. It's an iconic image that just characterizes this game perfectly.
The other trademark GOW image is that of taking out an enemy (or getting taken out yourself) with a CHAINSAW- GOW's answer to bayonets. It's gory (blood splattering everywhere) and messy but quite satisfying (heh). I'm just a few hours into the game and I have to say I'm impressed. I think I'll be seeing this Game of the Year to the end. I still hold Oblivion to be my favorite 360 game so far, but GOW is right up there with it.

If you get yourself an Xbox360, make sure this one's locked and loaded in the package.
Fetching a Stick

Even though I was able to get my copy of Virtua Fighter 5 several days ago (and have been enjoying myself immensely ever since), a little mishap prevented me from turning The Sanctum into an arcade. The specially-made Virtua Stick High Grade arcade-style controllers made by Sega specially for VF5 turned out to have a defect, causing their recall from production and an indefinite hold on any release. And so, I was up a creek without a stick. For a while, I decided to forget about getting an arcade stick, but really- the Sixaxis controller, while adequate, isn't the best thing to use with VF5's motions. Even some moves, like simple evades (just tapping up or down on the pad) is difficult, which is really cramping my style. And so, I decided to think about getting a stick again.

This time, I'm getting the Hori Real Arcade Pro 3 Stick, which came out about the same time VF5 did. It's the other PS3 arcade-style stick controller released recently, and it's supposedly quite durable and of very high quality. What the heck. It's not like I'm going to spend my dough on an expensive Valentine's Day date or anything. Heh.

Sunday, February 11

Round One... Fight!

I've spent most of the weekend playing Virtua Fighter 5 and all I can say is... the damn weekend is too short. Anyways, it's been excellent so far. The game is UN-freakin-believable in terms of visuals; I have seriously never seen a fighting game this beautiful. NOTHING in any arcade in this country can compare to what I have right now in The Sanctum on my PS3. I'm enjoying a videogame that only the Japanese have had the privilege to play in arcades for the whole year it's been out, and it's great. I'll see about writing the final review soon... perhaps after I log in some more hours of serious gameplay and get into the meat of this must-have PS3 title. Well, back to playing then.