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Level Up with the New Bandai Namco Releases
  • April 23, 2014 : 23:04
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We arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on a vibrant and hot desert day, ready for excitement and games; not the flashy casino games or the spring break party at the poolside, but the demos at Namco Bandai’s Global Gamers Day. We got the scoop on Namco Bandai’s upcoming titles and sat down with the games’ creative teams and now we’re here to give you the early goods on what to expect from 2014’s hottest games.

RISE OF INCARNATES



With its frantic action and heavy-duty sci-fi-meets-mythology premise, Rise of Incarnates is one of the more unique offerings Namco Bandai will be releasing this year. Set in a postapocalyptic future (the ruins of great cities like London and New York serve as the battles’ backdrops), Rise is a free-to-play PC fighting game where you control characters that can channel the powers of gods and demons chosen from world mythology.

According to executiveproducer Ryuichiro Baba and producer Michael Murray, “2v2” fighter games like Rise of Incarnates, where two teams of two players square off against each other, are common in Japan but largely unknown to American players. The duo is hoping Rise will be the game to introduce the 2v2 trend to the U.S. The gameplay is also idiosyncratic in that it combines elements from other genres like first-person shooters: in addition to your special powers, each character has a gun or projectile weapon to use in the fight; you’re also given a large amount of leeway to run, jump and even fly around the brawl.

“We’ve simplified the controls so there’s a lower barrier of entry for new players,” said Murray. “Fighting games often require complicated combos and a long sequence of intricate button-pushing to pull off character-specific moves, but we’ve made it easier to pick up the controller and play while still having plenty of depth for the more hardcore gamers.” When we played the game we jumped into a melee with three other players and had no problem using our mad scientist character, who controls the power of the Grim Reaper, to kick ass. You’ll be able to try it yourself: watch for Rise of Incarnates on Steam in the latter half of this year.

ACE COMBAT INFINITY



Whether you’re a combat-ready pro or a battle-shy beginner, the newest installment in the Ace Combat series, Ace Combat Infinity, will transform every player into a deadly flying ace. Jet fighter dogfights are the emphasis of the game, but the realistic flying aspects are not completely missing. The game’s producer, Kazutoki Kono, explained that the Ace Combat titles are often confused with flight simulation games but that the series is actually a flight-action shoot 'em up. Flight simulators are popular, but they’re also intensely realistic— it takes forever to even get off the ground. While Ace Combat is realistic to a point, Kono stressed that he wants the players in the sky, “flying, shooting, weaving and dodging.”

You can play solo against the computer, but the core of Ace Combat Infinity is the online co-op missions mode, letting you form a team of up to four people. Two teams can cooperate to defeat a common enemy or they can fight it out to rule the skies. We flew a few missions and it’s a simple game to get into, with depth coming from planning strategy with your team to take out your opponents.

Kono believes the appeal of the game is deeper than just a fun way to waste an afternoon with friends: “There’s very few fighter pilots out there,” he said, adding, “most people are not flying fighter jets and winning glorious air battles, and this game is a chance to live that dream, the dream many men have since being young, both of flying and of heroism.” Ace Combat Infinity will be released as a free-to-play download for the PlayStation 3 on March 27.

GRID AUTOSPORT



From track racing to ripping down the streets of New York City, you’re in for hours of high-octane fun thanks to the variety of different racing disciplines available in Grid Autosport. With this second sequel to 2008's Race Driver: Grid, the Grid team says they’re getting back to their racing sport roots and getting rid of unnecessary diversions.

Game designer Andy Stewart wants the game to be a celebration of pure, unadulterated motor sports. Through the lens of a videogame, he wants to answer the question of why people dedicate their lives to racing cars. And to reach that goal they tapped professionals from the world of racing—drivers, engineers, pit teams—to get their feedback on how the cars handle and drive on the track. For Stewart, the racing experts’ input goes further than nailing down a car’s handling in game form; it’s allowed him to capture the essence of racing and to reproduce what it is that makes autosport exciting, dramatic and competitive. 

When we took the game out for a spin, we got the rush the production team is looking for. It’s exhilarating, with enough realism to suck you in without dragging down the gameplay. An important aspect is building your “career” as a racer: strengthening your skills through the different styles of racing, keeping the same car over hours and hours of gameplay and souping it up for future victories, even “signing a contract” with an in-game franchise to race for them for a season. Grid Autosport is a surprisingly beautiful game, from the sun reflecting off your vehicle to the city backgrounds for the street racing—it’s real eye candy. Grid Autosport is out June 24th for XBox360 and PlayStation3.

LORDS OF THE FALLEN



“It takes evil to fight evil” is the premise behind the high fantasy action RPG Lords of the Fallen. The game takes place in a medieval world whose inhabitants banded together and defeated the evil god who ruled over them. Executive producer Tomasz Gop told us that literally defeating evil in a concrete form resulted in a society that believes that evil of all kinds can be destroyed forever. So sinners and criminals are dealt with harshly and marked with facial tattoos to make sure all know what they’ve done. But when demons from the army of the defeated deity start appearing after thousands of years of peace, the only solution is to turn to their most violent criminal. And it’s as this ultimate sinner you descend into a dungeon to destroy the demons and discover their source.

Lords of the Fallen contains strategy, puzzles and fierce hack-and-slash action. Defeating enemies and bosses takes some prowess with your sword, and we got caught up disemboweling demons in our sampling of the gameplay. But the game rewards brains even in battle. If you’re stealthy you can sneak past some of the minor demons. In the boss battle demonstrated for us, Gop destroyed the hulking big bad by tricking him onto a platform that broke under his weight, plummeting the boss to his death.

This game makes no secret that it’s tough. In the trailer above you can see that the player character gets killed again and again by a boss, until the player learns the tactics needed to triumph. Gop told us that dying in the game isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “There may be times when you die, but you’ll use that experience to come back and conquer,” he said, adding, "every defeat will just motivate you further." 

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