Genre: Third-person Fantasy Combat
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: Fall 09
Platinum Games’ other game at the show was Bayonetta, a stylish, tongue-in-cheek fighting game in the style of Capcom’s Devil May Cry series. Bayonetta features detailed, colorful visuals, fast-paced gameplay and a very unconventional lead character.
Bayonetta is a raven-haired witch in librarian glasses with some fearsome firepower strapped to her ankles. She is continually attacked by demons masquerading as angels and some very large and powerful end-level bosses, whom she battles with her impossibly long hair, which transforms into an even more powerful creature when unleashed. Her amazing tresses have one other distinctive quality: they are also her clothing, so when her hair goes into battle, the rest of her is au natural, which is bound to not sit well with the ratings board.
We were not given the chance to try out Bayonetta for ourselves, but the demo shown to us looks very promising. Fans of Japanese fantasy action games will be very pleased with the anime-style graphics, frenetic pace of the fighting sequences, and the saucy dialogue. I look forward to trying it out when it’s released this fall, if only to find out how she manages to kick so much ass and still keep those glasses on her head.
Empire: Total War
Genre: Historical RTS
Release Date: March 09
Developer Creative Assembly moves their successful Total War series of RTS games into the 18th century with Empire: Total War, a massive and insanely detailed game that includes campaigns on three continents.
Using officially licensed satellite images of the Earth, Creative Assembly has modeled most of the planet in amazing detail. You choose one of the 12 factions available out of the box and spread your influence throughout the land, using a combination of diplomacy, espionage, trade and military might. As you progress, you unlock other playable factions (there are 50 in all), which cover western Asia, Europe and, for the first time in the series, North America, where you can command either the Colonies or the British in the American War of Independence. As many as 10,000 soldiers can be on the screen at one time, and there are up to 325 units from which to choose. The dynamic camera system can focus on a single soldier or an entire field of battle. You can also take the fight to the high seas, leading single ships or massive fleets into naval conflict, including everything from cannonball fusillades to hand-to-hand fighting with boarding parties.
Of course, all of this graphical goodness can require a beast of a system to run (the demo was shown using a monstrous Alienware desktop system and a huge flatscreen monitor), but studio communications rep Kieran Brigden assured me that you won’t need an Olympian PC to have a great experience with Empire (minimum system specs are a very reasonable 2.6 GHz single-core CPU, 1 to 2 GB of system RAM and a 256-MB graphics card). Multiplayer modes include a one-on-one campaign mode (available shortly after launch) and a six to eight-player skirmish mode. PC gamers will be thrilled with the steps forward this series is taking, provided that they are willing to be realistic about their system capabilities.