A couple of reviews – N+ and Fall of Liberty

I did some demo downloading for XBLA last night before launching into Bioshock in an effort to finally finish it (Wow, does that game ever end??).

I’ve heard a lot about N+, so I thought I’d give that a go first.

This is interesting to say the least.

The mechanic seems deceptively simply – it reminds me of a sort of Manic Miner on Steroids. It feels like a mixture of Manic Miner in the minimalism art and what the game is about, and Thrust in terms of physics and control.

There appears to be something not quite right with the instant response of jumping – you have to prejudge when the jump should happen because it takes a finite amount of time to actually hit – a fact it took me a while to get right because of training from other platformers which require pixel accuracy usually on the edge of the platform.

Being able to change your direction of flight in mid air is very cool.

Love the tutorial aspect of showing the button and the stick. I first saw that done on Sims Next Gen where they put the controller on the screen and showed buttons and joysticks moving as the action went along. I’ve been desperately looking for a 2d 360 controller image (with animations for the sticks) myself to do the same thing.

One thing that the tutorial doesn’t cover is the fact that the length of time you hold the jump button down matters to the height of the jump. Took me about 10 goes on the last tutorial level till I gathered whats going on. You just look at when the buttons are pressed on the little image in screen, not how long they are pressed.

Restarting at the beginning of the level when you die is too much punishment – I hope you have restart positions on later levels (I’m just going to buy this).

Tom is right in that the wall jumping when you want to stay on the same wall is too hard.

Love the music.

Overall, this feels like a very finessed but a real pixel perfect kind of game – the skill is in judging the exact moment to let go of the joystick and press jump and it isn’t quite tied up with whats happening on screen, in fact you have to actively ignore the reality of “I should be hitting jump now!” and do it just the tiniest bit earlier. It’s kinda binary in that situation – you either get it right or you don’t.

Its the ultimate platformer thats for sure.

Then I had a go on Fall of Liberty – I love alternate universe stuff and I think Spark (the guys behind this) have some good work in front of them, so I went in with relatively high expectations.

Generally I thought it was fairly polished and very exciting with some real “what?” moments.

The AI seems ok but damn there’s a lot of popping in their animations – that better get fixed before ship.

I don’t crouch enough to make use of cover. I am totally feeling the lack of love on that since I’ve been playing gears and I expect cover to actually give me cover. If the bad guys are only shooting at my head then there’s little point in crouching and leaving it uncovered, might as well not bother.

Love love love the situations in this demo. Love the initial attack from the jet stukas and the air ships. I wasn’t even aware the game had started, I was just watching the battle. Love the ideas and set pieces.

Not entirely sure about the lighting – seems a little too crisp to me. Not enough diffusion on the lighting model I think.

Some seriously weird stuff happens with the shot decals when you rotate the camera around. They pop in and out a lot.

The accuracy of the weapons needs to be upped just a touch.

Why can I run over guns and automatically pick them up but not grenades? Why do I have to press X to get the first set of sticky bombs (and there’s 4 and yet I can only pick one up?) then when I run over another one on the ground, it just automatically picks them up?

The movement doesn’t feel quite right. It just doesn’t feel as fluid as it should do. I’m not sure exactly what it is that doesn’t feel right, but something doesn’t.

3rd person as a view when ‘doing stuff’? Not sure about that. The hand over hand stuff reminds me of FAKK 2 – they did all that there and it was a complete waste since no one wanted to use it.
Nice to see your feet when you look down though. I didn’t notice – do you see your own shadow (assuming it’s cast correctly)?

Sounds are great. Even the screams when you are in the elevator shaft are great – very immersive.

I think on reflection on the entire experience, well it needs just the right amount of dirtying up and attention to motion.

This is probably way too late now but what the hell, thought I’d say it anyway.

Assuming the AI glitching is fixed, I want to play some more.

So there you go, take that for what you will.

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