New York Comic Con 2016 – A mix of console gaming with a taste of VR

 

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Another year, another convention down!

This year, at New York Comic Con 2016, there were plenty of comics, panels, and amazing cosplayers roaming the Jacob Javits Center. But that’s not what I am here to talk about. I came to NYCC for a very specific mission: play the shit out of some games. Here are some of my thoughts on the gaming highlights of the show:

Resident Evil 7

Of course Capcom brought a replica of the Bakers' house to Con; what do you think this is, amateur hour?

Of course Capcom brought a replica of the Bakers’ house to Con; what do you think this is, amateur hour?

Resident Evil 7 had a big presence at NYCC. There were lines to play the game every day out of the four days I attended Con.

Two demos were on hand to try out (in VR!): “Kitchen” and “Lantern.” To play “Kitchen,” one needed only to stand on line (as long as it wasn’t full to capacity) and get to the front before the venue closed. “Lantern,” on the other hand, was almost impossible to get into. A little over one hundred tickets were given out each day in order to play “Lantern,” and they were always gone by 10:03 a.m.

Comic Con opens at 10:00 a.m. during its four days.

YEAH.

Luckily, your EiC managed to get on line early on Sunday and get into the show floor at exactly 10:00 a.m. The RE booth was set up almost directly in front of one of the entrances, so I ran over and managed to snag a ticket with only ten left. Each ticket told you when to show up during the day, to wait by the booth fifteen minutes beforehand, and that a sweet shirt would be given out after completing the demo.

YOINK

YOINK

First, let’s talk about “Kitchen,” which I stood in line for during a previous day. A Capcom representative ushered me into one of the doors, and allowed me to take my brother in for photos. Here I am with a PlayStation VR headset on my face:

Sup?

Sup?

“Kitchen” was a very basic interactive demo, in that you only moved your hands and face to “play.” If anyone has played “Beginning Hour” on the PS4, this demo basically shows you what happens during your character’s almost rescue from being tied to a chair. I started the demo by moving my actual hands forward (holding a controller, mind you), knocking over a video camera. I was free to move my head around and check out the kitchen from the sides and from the front (I didn’t move my head completely behind me because I didn’t want to miss the action in front of me). When my buddy untied himself and went to try to get my hands untied with a knife, I held my hands in front of my body and it almost felt real! Then my buddy got stabbed from behind by a crazy lady, and she walked near me and held the knife in front of my face and it was really unnerving. My friend tried to stop her, but then he got dragged off and had his head cut off in the next room (it rolled in front of me after and I was like, “Shit”). After that, I could hear crazy lady nearby, but couldn’t see her. Then she covered my eyes from behind and was on top of me and then BAM!, stab.

Pictured: IMMERSION

Pictured: IMMERSION

I thought “Kitchen” was fun for a short demonstration of how VR makes you feel like part of the game. When the knife was dangling in front of my face, I actually tried to move my face away from it. The room where the demo was on display also looked like a room from “Beginning Hour,” which was a fantastic touch. The only thing that broke the immersion was looking down at my arms and seeing that they weren’t my arms, just my avatar’s (it actually fucks with your brain a little!). All in all, “Kitchen” was a fun experience that got me excited for VR and pumped to try out “Lantern.”

This room was put together quite nicely

This room was put together quite nicely

Now, “Lantern” was quite a bit more interactive than “Kitchen.” Not only did my controller move me around but the game had to be calibrated to track my head movements in order to turn. Sitting in a chair isn’t the most comfortable place to move your head around to move in a different direction, so I just used my controller’s right stick to turn. It isn’t that great, though, because it moves you in diagonals, meaning you have to press right twice in order to turn completely in one direction. On the plus side, “Lantern” was about thirty minutes long, and the Capcom representative in the room with me said I could stop at any time if things got too intense and even offered to help if I got stuck on a section.

“Lantern” started with me running away from a crazy old lady, and I was playing as a woman this time. I found my way across a bridge and into a house; then, things really started to go down. I heard the crazy lady (one of the Bakers, but not the same one from “Kitchen”) open a door near me, so I crouched behind a crate so she couldn’t see me. As she looked for me, carrying a lantern, I swear she sounded a lot closer than she actually was, which was horrifying. After spouting nonsense and going into the next room, I went into the door she came in from and found a pedestal where something had to be inserted. I looked outside on the patio and found a stone statue, and crazy Baker came in from the door behind me (SHE’S RELENTLESS). I tried to hide outside, but she went to the corner I was hiding in and caught me. I tried again and went to the other corner, she left, and I went inside and used the statue. A projector’s light flashed towards the wall in front of me and I had to move the statue to resemble a spider pictured across from the pedestal. Moving this thing around was quite difficult using my hands, and I asked for help at one point because I was taking too long, but as soon as the Capcom representative said she didn’t know what to do, I figured it out.

After inserting the statue correctly, the wall opened up and I was in a new room. Ms. Baker came in from the other side and I was forced to hide behind a crate again. As she circled the crate, I inched away from her sight, and as she left, she turned around and started looking for me again (she succeeded). After trying again and asking the Capcom rep for help, she told me I had to run forward and to the right when Baker’s eyes were off of me. I did this, fell into a pit, things got dark, and then Baker found me. Cue the Baker dinner cutscene we have all seen online, and demo over! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures or video for the “Lantern” demo, so here’s a Youtube video basically showing off what I went through:

“Lantern” was an even more awesome experience than “Kitchen.” I actually felt stalked from room to room, and I kept peeking out around corners to see if Baker was there. Turning wasn’t the easiest thing to get used to, but I feel like if I was standing up it would have felt more intuitive. If Capcom was trying to get me to buy Resident Evil 7 with the PSVR, they certainly swayed me. Getting a sweet t-shirt was just icing on the cake.

I love it so

I love it so

Did I play anything else that WASN’T VR?! Yes, yes I did.

Dead Rising 4

It's just a zombie party at Capcom's section

It’s just a zombie party at Capcom’s section

Frank West is back; that is, unless you liked his original voice actor better. Dead Rising 4 was on display at Con, and it wouldn’t be a Capcom event without a long line. Seriously, I spent an hour in line to play this. The demo was basically five minutes to kill as many zombies as humanely possible, which is my favorite kind of demo. Frank started off with a electric ax that powered up the more zombies you slaughtered. Pressing Y + B when charged basically turned Frank into Thor as he electrocuted every zombie within his nearby vicinity. As I walked around murdering every zombie in sight, I got a prompt telling me to check out a nearby truck. Inside, there was an Exo Suit, which gives Frank body armor that increases his strength and stamina. This enabled me to exterminate zombies with my bare hands. Charging up the suit’s attack let me rip a zombie’s head clean off, which was immensely satisfying. I saved a nearby survivor stuck on top of a truck and then proceeded to a fire station, where survivors were apparently holed up. I didn’t find any, but I did find a friggin’ ice sword that froze and shattered zombies when used. I made my way outside and used my crossbow weapon to blow up the undead with fireworks to close out my session.

CARNAGE

CARNAGE

Dead Rising 4 was a really fun time even with the five minute demo limit. The frame rate was smooth even though there were hundreds of zombies onscreen and I adored racking up kills with a multiplier by constantly killing zombies. I hear the overall time limit of previous entries is gone now, and while I thought that limit added to the sense of urgency to complete those titles, Dead Rising 4 works well without it. You get to kill as many monsters as you can without a timer clicking down, and that’s more than alright with me. I’m definitely keeping this one on my radar.

Little Nightmares

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Bandai Namco had Little Nightmares on display, so I decided to give it a whirl. I was stuck in a giant room with a huge, comfy bed, and needed to unlock the door to the outside. I learned I could climb things by holding the triggers and tried to jump to the doorknob, but it was too big of a fall and I died. I later found out I could pull things, too, so I pulled a chest over to the door, climbed up, and jumped to the doorknob to open my way forward. I got stuck in the next hallway, trying to pull a lever that was just a little higher than me that operated the nearby elevator. I’ve watched gameplay since then and I think I wasn’t pressing in the triggers to grab and pull the lever to use the elevator, but Comic Con isn’t a great atmosphere to play puzzle games because of the people lining up behind you. Great atmosphere, wonderful graphics, interesting puzzles, and the ability to break all the pots in a single room; I’m sure Little Nightmares will be fun to play in an isolated setting.

What do I do?!

What do I do?!

Kingdom Hearts HD II.8

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Hoo boy, was it hard to get a chance to play Kingdom Hearts. It was the only game at Square Enix’s space that had a line for it, and the reps there gave no indication that that was the case. Even a little line that was formed by a nearby wall had a three hour wait to play. THREE HOURS. Apparently, no one had informed the Square New York Comic Con team that Kingdom Hearts has a rabid fan base. This was one of those “Come back early Sunday” titles to play.

After waiting around fifteen minutes to play KH, a representative told me that the demo was around thirty minutes long, fifteen if you are good at finding stuff. The demo on display came from just one part of this HD collection: Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep–A Fragmentary Passage. Gotta condense those titles, Square. The demo takes place after Birth by Sleep, and was made specifically for this HD collection. I played as Aqua. Now, I haven’t played Kingdom Hearts since the first PS3 HD collection, but my strategy still worked: mash X until all the enemies were dead, and heal when needed. I had to activate four gears in order to get a clock to turn back time and fix a collapsed bridge. Exploring the map was pretty straightforward, and there was a boss battle upon nearing the repaired bridge (a bunch of Heartless mixed together, pictured below). This was the only dangerous part of the demo, but healing every minute or so helped, and Aqua does this cool spin move of death when you whack the boss with your keyblade enough times. After all was said and done, a cutscene played, light and darkness were mentioned fifty times, and the demo ended.

Spoilers: you have to fight the Heartless

Spoilers: you have to fight the Heartless

Kingdom Hearts looked great on the PS4. Not a lot has changed mechanically, but I’m not complaining. Aqua’s magic was a bit more fancy than Sora’s, so I ended up using some spells (fire, thunder, ice, etc.) to take out groups of enemies to break the monotony of keyblade bashing. I’d love to play all of the HD collections on the PS4, but Square has decided to have two of them on the PS3 and one on the PS4 instead of re-releasing them altogether. Perhaps they will when Kingdom Hearts III is close to completion, fifteen years from now.

Ride 2

More like Crash 2 Many Times

More like Crash 2 Many Times

God, I hated Ride 2 with a passion. How do you screw up motorcyle racing? By making it way too realistic. In order to make a turn, you have to brake ten minutes in advance, and even then your bike will go careening off course and you’ll end up wiping out in the dirt. Accelerating even a little bit into the dirt caused your avatar to fall off, respawning close by after eight other racers have already passed you. If there was a button to adjust your weight on the bike, I couldn’t find it for the life of me. Give me a more arcade-y racing game any day.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

I'm about to shoot something in the face

I’m about to shoot something in the face

Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s Expedition Mode was on display at Con. I started out as Lara Croft with another lady as my partner as we got attacked in some snowy forest (BY WOLVES). I didn’t know what the objective was, so I looked for relics, shot wildlife in the brain with my arrows, shot humans in the face with my arrows, and looked for campfires to keep from freezing to death. I found out that if Lara gets attacked and killed by an enemy, your partner can revive you, as mine did (after taking their sweet time). My real life partner was standing next to me on another screen and PS4, so I don’t believe Expedition Mode has splitscreen co-op.

All my years of archery classes are about to pay off

All my years of archery classes are about to pay off

Expedition Mode was pretty fun, though I prefer the single player campaigns in Tomb Raider titles. Graphics were nice, weapons were satisfying (though the bow is still the most fun and useful thing to use, since it’s silent), and killing deer/humans is always a fun time. Also, I bought Rise personally and found that Expedition Mode makes use of these cards you can obtain either ingame, through fake money, or through real money. These cards either make the mode harder or easier, granting Lara perks or handicaps (stronger weapons, tougher enemies, etc.). The use of these cards certainly makes Expedition Mode even more intriguing, so I’ll probably hop online to give it a try once I am done with the main campaign.

Seems friendly

Seems friendly

Hitman

For a hidden assassin, Agent 47 sure is easy to spot

For a hidden assassin, Agent 47 sure is easy to spot

Hitman is not the type of game for a convention; which isn’t to say it is a bad game! I started out my playthrough as Agent 47 looking to kill some hipster rich guy with a recording studio for reasons I did not know. You walk around a party at a sweet mansion where the hipster is celebrating his birthday. As you walk around, points of interest pop up, and walking to them usually allows you to eavesdrop on a conversation regarding your target. During one playthrough, I heard two chefs talking about some dirt on Mr. Rich Wannabe Pop Star that was hidden in a room on the fourth floor. I tried going up there, but the stairs were blocked by guards. I tried pulling the fire alarm to distract them, but then they started firing at me for illegally triggering it when there was, in fact, no fire. Things escalated quickly and I was promptly murdered. My second attempt involved me hearing about hipster’s drummer calling out sick and receiving intel from my boss that he looked like me, so I tried to use that to my advantage. Again, the way to the recording studio was blocked off by guards who didn’t think I was said drummer. I tried to elbow my way in which resulted in them growing suspicious of me, which led to me getting shot in the face.

I'm not very good at blending in

I’m not very good at blending in

Again, Hitman seems like a fine game; it just requires patience, planning, and time to complete objectives, none of which are afforded at a convention. I’m sure planning an assassination and quietly going through with it is fantastic. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try this title out again on my couch at home.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

I'm cold

I’m cold

Real talk: this was my first time playing FFXII! I picked up the controller and was immediately thrust into a forest. I had one lady, whom I was controlling, and two guys traveling with me in my party. Combat was automatic; you could choose which spells and attacks to use, but they didn’t come out automatically. It seemed like everything was on a timer, which reminded me of Xenoblade Chronicles. I got to talk to some dolphin/lizard thing and learned that their were Moogles nearby, aka the greatest species in FF ever. I fought some giant fireballs, cast some killer magic, and found the goddamn Moogles, who led me through a door to a beach area. At the beach, I wandered around for a bit and fought some monsters near the water, and then decided to end my gameplay, feeling like I had seen everything I needed to see. Seems like a good game, although it was hard for me to adjust since I am so used to ATB with FF titles (or even turn-based ones like X). I’ll try it again once it releases on the PS4.

What am I speaking to right now?

What am I speaking to right now?

New York Comic Con 2016 was a blast this year, horrible one to three hour lines notwithstanding. I got to try out PSVR, which turned me from a skeptic to an optimist. I played some Square Enix titles and Capcom titles I am really looking forward to. I disemboweled zombies, cowered in fear behind a crate, landed a bullseye on a wolf’s face, completely wiped out on a race course, and whacked Heartless with a sword that looked like a key. Not a bad way to spend four days. Hope to be writing about NYCC 2017 next year!

Aspiring ninja turtles in training!

Aspiring ninja turtles in training!

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