Sony has announced July's batch of free PlayStation Plus games.
22nd February 2014
18th February 2014
14th October 2013
After more than a decade, Capcom has finally seen fit to revive the Strider franchise, placing the crew at Double Helix in charge of its revival. Initial reactions to the new comeback were mixed, with the developer's less than stellar track record causing some concern amongst fans at the time. They needn't have worried - the game's a real success, standing as a strong entry in the genre and possibly the best game Double Helix has made to date.
Of course, if you dig deep into the history of the company - at least on the Shiny side of things - you'll find plenty of memorable platformers dating back the 16-bit days. In that sense, it almost feels like a return to form for the crew at Double Helix and a full realisation of the team's potential. The achievement is all the more impressive bearing in mind that Strider was released simultaneously across five different platforms. There are some profound differences that span the generational divide, and while Strider is a decent enough release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it's on the next-gen consoles where the game really shines. A lot of that comes down to the super-smooth update and low latency controls. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 iterations of Strider operate at a full 1920x1080 and run at full-bore 60fps. Anti-aliasing is of the post-process variety - seemingly based on FXAA or an offshoot. On a general rendering level, there's very little to separate the games. Indeed, on first glance it's difficult to discern any significant difference between them at all.
Effects, models, and textures are identical throughout the run of play with just one surprising exception: texture filtering. It's not clear why but the anisotropic texture filtering employed on Xbox One is completely absent on PS4, producing a difference that once seen cannot be unseen - a distinct blurring of detail on angled textures that severely reduces detail in places. The nature of the camera work produces a lot of steep angles along surfaces that tends to highlight the issue.
Strider Hiryu sprints deeply, at forty-five degrees, arm raised to mouth as if shielding his lips while leaning into a mean wind. His crimson scarf billows dramatically behind. He launches into a cartwheel arc through the air before landing with a silent thud on the tail of a familiar foe, the grandson of the chain-link Chinese dragon that loop-de-looped through the air in the original Strider of the arcade. This remake may have been developed in California by Double Helix, but it bears a strong family likeness: Strider's silhouette is unmistakably that first conceived by Tatsumi Wada in 1989, and the lithe ninja's gait and armory remain intact. You even benefit from the generous double jump he learned in the second game.
But this time these skills are not freely given: they must instead be won. The gnarly designs of the first two games, pushed into unforgiving shapes by the economics of the arcade (where every death meant another paycheque for publisher Capcom) are gone. Today's descendant takes a new, unexpected and yet also comfortable form: that of the Metroidvania, a vast city broken into a thousand rooms and hallways, which can investigated as your character's growing set of abilities opens up the previously inaccessible world around him.
In one room, you learn how to momentarily dart through time and space, teleporting a few feet ahead, an ability that allows you to pass into some hitherto locked areas. Another boss fight rewards you with kunai: throwing knives which can be used to spike enemies or flick otherwise unreachable door switches. In this way the game world unfurls and you tread deeper within.
The new Strider game launches across Europe on 19th February, Capcom has announced.
Be careful what you wish for. Kouichi Yotsui's Strider series burnt short but bright, and ever since its technically challenged but mechanically exquisite sequel came out in arcades 16 years ago, those still basking in its afterglow have been pining up for a follow-up.
Bar a handful of cameos in Marvel vs. Capcom, though, there's been silence - until San Diego Comic Con earlier this year, that is, when Strider Hiryu's comeback was announced. But it's a double-edged cypher blade: Capcom's new game is a reboot being handled by Double Helix, a studio whose less than stellar back catalogue includes lowlights such as Battleship and Silent Hill Homecoming.
In the immediate wake of Spark's sadly predictable fumbling of Lost Planet 3 - as well as Capcom's announcement earlier this year that it would be dialling back external collaborations given the disappointing results thus far - the reboot feels like a slightly retrograde step.
Capcom has announced a new Strider game for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
This latest series entry will be more of a "metroidvania" adventure with a "retraceable" world and power-ups that give you more combat abilities and allow you to explore the environment further.
The new Strider is being co-developed by Double Helix, the studio behind Silent Hill: Homecoming and the upcoming Killer Instinct reboot. The original Strider creative leads at Capcom's Osaka office will be working with the California-based developer, just as Capcom paired with western studio Ninja Theory for its Devil May Cry reboot.