Demos A Go-Go

In between rounds of Oasis’s “Wonderwall” in Rock Band, I took the opportunity to download two new demos – “Devil May Cry 4” on the PS3 and “The Club” on 360. Both games are due out in a few weeks; That’s right, the incredibly brief gaming drought is over already. I hope you all finished up Uncharted, Call of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed, Super Mario Galaxy, Mass Effect and Orange Box in the last few weeks. Oh, you didn’t? Well, too bad.

I’ll talk about “The Club” first, since it doesn’t seem to be getting very much coverage. You might know the developers by their other famous franchise, “Project Gotham Racing“. At first glance, PGR might seem to be just another arcade racer filled with scores of shiny expensive cars. Unlike Ridge Racer or Need For Speed, your objective isn’t just to win races, but to impress everyone by racking up Kudos at the same time. Drifting through corners, 360s and drafting all earn you Kudos points, as does completing sections of the track without hitting anyone. If you can string together these different types of feats with a minimum amount of time passing between each one, you will build up a combo meter which increases your total number of Kudos when the combo finishes. It’s unique enough that PGR’s publisher, Microsoft, owns a patent on the system. Incidentally, this is only one of two patents for a system in a videogame I’m aware of. The other describes the Sanity System for Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.

“The Club” is like PGR, except instead of controlling a car, you control one of an assortment of 8 mercenaries. And instead of pulling off car tricks, you shoot people.

Each person you shoot extends your combo, but you can also extend your combo by shooting one of several skull signs placed around each level. The game then not only becomes about surviving through a level, but making sure your journey through the level is as stylish as possible. Control is reminiscent of Gears of War, mostly because of the addition of a “sprint” button, similar to the GoW “roadie run.” However, the characters in The Club don’t seem to be able to hop over barriers, which hampers the feel slightly.

The first level I played required you to finish the level with 75,000 points, and my first time through I managed around 150,000. The levels are tight and short enough to remain in your memory, so I immediately went back in tried to extend a combo through the whole level. I didn’t succeed, but I did manage around 480k points. It seems to be great fun, and encourages replay in the same way that “Boom Boom Rocket” does.

If you’ve ever played any of the Devil May Cry games, the demo for #4 probably won’t surprise you. Naturally, it’s a great looking game. I’m actually a little surprised when looking at it – it seems like Capcom has opted to go just for extremely high-resolution textures, rather than having a lot of complicated texture passes. The notable exception is the included boss, Berial. Everything from his giant horns to his massive claymore is covered with cooling lava, alternately crackling and bubbling.

Combat in the demo will be immediately familiar to veterans of the series. Everything from the air hikes to the Stinger are back. New this time are the grabs, performed by pressing the Circle button. When you have an enemy locked, a ghostly hand will reach out and pull them towards you. Once beside you, you can press Circle again to uppercut the enemy into the air with your ghost hand, at which point you can choose to juggle them with your guns, or jump up to slash them to pieces. Actually, I assume the ghost hand is some sort of demonic energy, but I’m not familiar with the story to DMC4.

While you can still charge up shots, instead of sword charging we now have sword revving. Apparently, Nero’s sword features an engine of some kind that can be revved like a motorcycle. Revving the sword correctly can increase the power of its next swing, up to three times. I’ll have to see how this plays out in the final game. In the demo, I only really seemed to have time to build up a charge in between rooms so it didn’t seem that useful. Of course, I’m not very good at Devil May Cry so that might have some effect.

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