Midway Games has had their share of ups and downs, from the
low valleys of Blacksite: Area 51 and Hour of Victory to the pinnacles of Psi-Ops:
The Mindgate Conspiracy and Touchmaster. After spending a few hours in their E3
meeting room, we walked away optimistic about their upcoming releases.
We first sat down with TNA iMPACT!, a wresting game due for
the PS3, 360, Wii and PS2. As we grabbed the PS3 controller, we were slightly apprehensive
about the game; the competing Smackdown Vs. Raw series by THQ has been devoid
of innovation and seemed rooted in last-gen play mechanics. We sincerely hoped
TNA would be better.
The first thing Midway’s rep explained was the team’s goal
to keep the title running 60 frames per second. Except for a bit of choppiness
on the in-game wrestle intros, it looks like the team has met that goal, as
gameplay was buttery smooth. Our first match had three wrestlers vying to pull
down an “X” hung above the mat. Players would climb on a turnbuckle, and then
shimmy along a beam above the mat. Within a few minutes of learning the
controls, we were having a great time, pulling people down from the
scaffolding, and beating each other with chairs. We sat down with skepticism,
and walked away with optimism.This could turn into an amazing game to play along a few buddies.
Although our rep wouldn’t confirm four player multiplayer
via Xbox Live or the Playstation Network, we have a feeling that the final
product will allow for heated online battles. One thing that won’t make this year’s
TNA will be female wrestlers.
Whether or not Wheelman is successful, we can nearly guarantee
one thing- its nudging system will be copied by numerous racing games over the
next few years. The game is being developed in collaboration between Vin Diesel’s
Tigon Studios and Midway, and will be released (presumably, long) before
Our demo of Wheelman started in an open-ended recreation of
Barcelona, as we drove through the streets, with police in hot pursuit. As the
police pull up against the main character’s vehicle, players can use the right
stick to nudge the cops into scenery. The results feel amazing, as cars spin
throw the air, ejecting rag-doll like policemen, before settling to the ground
in a smoking mess. Players can also use the nudge function for a quick lane
changing maneuver; this was used expertly to pass a narrow gap in a two-way
Clearly the focus of the game was destruction; Wheelman
borrows code from Midway’s own Stranglehold, as nearly every object in the environment can
be destroyed. Additionally, we were
shown an air-jack move that allows player to change vehicles in a move reminiscent
of PSP title, Pursuit Force. Over 100 different side missions will complement the main
game to extend playtime. Now, if Midway can just fix the framerate we’ll be very pleased.
Finally, we spent some quality time with Mortal Kombat Vs.
DC Universe. The first thing we noticed is how little this game has changed from its predecessors.
Except for the integration of the DC hero and villain characters, two changes
have been added to the core gameplay: Klose Kombat and Free Fall.
As soon as Klose Kombat is initiated by a player, the camera
zooms, showing the plastic-looking player models, and an on-screen
representation of the controller’s attack buttons. The attacker presses one of
the buttons, and then the defender has a limited amount of time to copy the
input, thereby blocking the attack.
Free-Fall Kombat is automatically activated when one player
knocks their opponent to a lower, enviormental level. During this sequence, fighters battle
to achieve domination- the player who wins, lands on top of their opponent, and
inflicts damage. Fatalities will be used by the returned MK cast and DC villains,
while hero’s have violent, non-lethal moves to finish the match. Overall, those
worried that MK vs. DC would be watered-down need not fear, the game feels and
plays surprising close to its ancestors.