Hands-on at E3 / Sin and Punishment 2

Does anyone else want to ring the Nintendo press conference by its neck? Not once did Nintendo mention that Sin and Punishment 2 would be here at E3. One of the most coveted shooters of our time on the N64 and a major claim for the “Wii has hardcore games” argument wasn’t mentioned once during their world wide broadcast of the press conference. Thankfully, and to the surprise of most people at E3, Sin and Punishment 2 was on the show floor and is playable.

We headed over, shoved the innocents out of the way and grabbed a Wii Remote and Nunchuk to play what should have been one of the big games at this year’s E3. Does the running/shooter action work well on the Wii or was it best reserved for the unique controls of the N64? Treasure, the game’s developer, knows how to rock the shooter, but rocking the Wii can be very challenging. Let’s see what they’re doing.

I got my hands on an earlier part of the game and played through it twice, once with each character. Players can choose between Isa (the son of Saki and Airan, who made an appearance in the first game), and a young girl named Kachi to play as. They both feature different powers and move a bit differently, and while both have rapid fire shots, their charge shots work differently with Isa simply shooting a large charged blast and Kachi having multi-target locking when she charges up. Kachi also flies on a hover board whereas Isa flies with the help of some sort of hover pack thing. The two thus control a bit differently, though not in a very major way.

Playing through with Isa first, it was clear to see that the fluid motion of the original game was back in force, but with more options. Players can now take-off into the air whenever they want or run on the ground whenever they want (assuming there is ground to run on) meaning that the entire screen is open to movement for all of the game. It turns dodging and shooting into a multiple direction action fest instead of simply being left and right. Of course shooters aren’t about dodging they’re about shooting, and Sin and Punishment 2 does the logical thing by making all aiming done simply by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen. Turns out that, much like the original that could only be played with the N64 controller, this game could only really be managed with the Wii Remote. There’s just to much on the screen and reactions have to be too quick to for a direction pad or joystick to work.

The guys at Treasure have really nailed shooting action on the Wii down. In the level I played I was almost always ducking and diving my way out of enemy fire, at one point having to keep shooting enemies who were flying at me while also dodging large laser blasts from the side. It’s almost as if the plethora of years between the original and this didn’t exist and they just got right back on track. That goes for the difficulty as well (though if you’ve only played the original on the Wii’s Classic Controller you know Sin and Punishment to be even harder than it was on the N64). This is old school shooter action, where you’re going to die and have to retry a level plenty of times it seems — or at least I did that on this level, much to the chagrin of those behind me in line.

What really stand out though is that the game seems just plain fun. I only got through one level and one boss battle, but I could have played that level over and over again all day. Maybe it’s the best level in the game and the rest will suck, but I highly doubt it. Here’s to Nintendo ignoring what might be the Wii’s game of the show.