Publisher Sega just delivered the first scant details on MadWorld, Infinite Line, an unnamed game, and Bayonetta, the first four projects from new developer Platinum Games Inc. And yes, new games are announced almost every day, but this is special. Why? Because Platinum Games is made up of the men who invented cutting-edge classics like Resident Evil, Okami, Viewtiful Joe, Devil May Cry, and the mech-tacular Steel Battalion. Simply put - they're good. Really good. And here's a tantalizing, if infuriatingly small (how small? Sega didn't even give out screens) peek at what they're doing next.
The first game mentioned is the one we know the least about - literally the only thing Platinum revealed is that Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is directing it. We're going to go out on a limb and say we're 90% sure it isn't a puzzle or racing game, but beyond that, all bets are off.
Take any good, old fashioned beat 'em-up from the arcade days and move it to 3D. Now, make the graphics all black and white, like Sin City, but keep the blood bright red and let it gush from every wound and severed limb. Set the whole thing up like a gladiator game show, with beefy dudes in bondage biker gear and death traps in levels and commentators analyzing your fighting. And finally, make it so incredibly, ridiculously violent that it becomes funny instead of offensive or unsettling. That's MadWorld.
The developers want to make a game that isn't dark or perverse, but humorous. And as odd as it sounds, they seem on track. During the playable demo, we saw main character Jack throw an enemy into a dumpster, the lid of which then fell closed, cleaving the enemy in twain. We saw him use a cricket bat to send other men flying through the air into a giant dart board. We saw him rip out a guy's heart with his bare hands and then - as if the ripping out wasn't enough - squish the heart into jam as if he was crushing a tin can.
Our favorite bit? We saw Jack rip a caution sign out of the ground and jam it clear through another guy's eye socket and out the back of his skull. However, the guy didn't die right then. He stumbled around awhile longer, with the entire sign sticking out several feet both in front of and behind his head, until he fell into the river.
Granted, it's a unique kind of funny - not everyone will find the humor in lighting a dude on fire, then stuffing him headfirst into a garbage can and picking up and throwing the can. Or in impaling an enemy onto a foot-long spike once, twice, three times ... then a fourth time just for good measure. Or in cutting someone completely into pieces with your wrist-mounted chain saw. But we'll admit we're intrigued, and we're eager to see more of MadWorld.
Bayonetta was revealed with a super dark, CG trailer that lasted maybe ten seconds. But the imagery we could make out was striking - gunshots and bullets, slow motion (that could have just been for effect), a quick glimpse of a female character - dark skin, red hair, dark glasses and clothes - and an enemy who seems to be a muscular, winged man with some odd headgear, who is then shot in the throat by the girl. Then a female leg stomping the ground with an oddly metallic thunk for a foot we figured would be wearing high heeled boots.
Turns out the female is Bayonetta, the game's main character. She's a witch who has been reincarnated in present day. She also hunts angels, who have apparently been at war with the witches for ages. In addition to the usual kicks and punches, she has two guns in her hands and more down near her feet - can't say we've seen that before. Director Hideki Kamiya (Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe) promises she has other special powers too, but won't yet elaborate. Dammit.
Here's an interesting concept: A sprawling sci-fi RPG whose main appeal is its vast size and flexibility - but it's on the Nintendo DS. There are more than 150 ship designs and your own ship, of which you are the captain, is heavily customizable. The innards are modular, so you can place the bridge, engineering, control room, and so on right where you want them. There are also more than 150 possible crew members for you to meet and recruit.
No details yet about the gameplay (even the screens shown were called placeholder) or the story, other than it's inspired by Arthur C Clarke's book, "Childhood's End" and that you'll "discover what it means to be human."
May 15, 2008