If you're going to play Serious Sam, Croteam's riotous PC/Xbox FPS, through to completion, it's hardly going to leave you with any thorny existential questions to ponder. It's a game that's giddying in its simplicity. Several billion (well, many dozen) enemies spawn and charge/shoot at you, and you shoot back at them, endlessly circle-strafing and pumping the trigger in a gloriously dumb haze of gunfire and death yelps. And that's it, over and over, for the entire game. Zero subtlety. Minimal variation. On paper, it's deafeningly flat. It's the action-hero equivalent of LOLspeak. So, if you play Serious Sam through to completion, you are actually left with something to ponder: what the hell am I doing?
Amongst the many titles shown off in Japan at Nintendo's Wii unveiling earlier today was a new Resident Evil title called Umbrella Chronicles.
With Devil Kings Capcom has committed daylight robbery. Having happily plagiarised its own back catalogue over the years, releasing tweaks pretending to be updates masquerading as sequels, the Japanese giant has stomped shamelessly into the Koei camp and plundered its popular Dynasty Warriors series. This is much more than Resident Evil ripping off Alone in the Dark. If a jury was shown both Devil Kings and one of the Dynasty Warriors games running side by side it would be very difficult to tell the two apart. Both cast you as a warrior general, dropped onto an ancient battlefield awash with hundreds of enemy soldiers. Both require you to lay said soldiers low with a big stick or similar pointy implement. You even get to ride around on a horse, as warrior generals like to do. Beyond brawling, the games feature a selection of customisable characters, all with their own back-stories, and there are some basic battle options to tinker with. In short, they look the same and pretty much play the same. Itís an open and shut case.
Devil Kings may well be a forgery but itís certainly not faking it. To rub salt into angry-looking wounds, Capcom has taken the Koeiís long-running series and audaciously improved upon it at the first attempt. Now donít get me wrong - if youíve not shown the Dynasty Warriors games any love before then Devil Kings wonít fan the flames of your heart. Instead, it takes the source material and walks it down the bigger-better-more path that Capcom likes to call its own. The action is faster, the special moves are wilder, and the onscreen carnage is off the scale. Tapping the standard attack button is surprisingly effective - anyone within spitting distance will fall beneath your blade - but by combining this with your secondary attack (which Ďprimesí your enemies ready for the kill) you can supercharge your Fury Gauge and unleash a Fury Drive! This special move, aptly described in the gameís rolling demo as ďultra radicalĒ, sees your character swirl around the screen, sucking up enemy soldiers and spitting out their lifeless bodies. Itís classic Capcom.
While many of the special moves and attack combos are completely over the top, the gameplay is actually more measured than in Dynasty Warriors. This is mainly thanks to the introduction of a guard move which you must use to block enemy attacks (and as an added bonus, if you block at exactly the right time, the attack will be returned to sender). In easy mode you can slaughter entire armies by bashing the attack buttons, but in normal and hard mode several direct hits will result in death, so you must play with far more caution. In fact, the difference between the easy and normal difficult levels is alarming at first, being more of a leap into the unknown than a step up. This will certainly test your revolve; possibly your patience too.
More details have emerged for Devil Kings, the forthcoming PS2 title from legendary Capcom producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi.