At SXSW 2012, Sony once again held an event showing off some of their newest games. This time it was at the Red 7 bar in downtown Austin, where they had several games being shown, some released and some not. I spent my time with 4 titles that will be released soon: Resistance: Burning Skies, Sorcery, PixelJunk 4AM, and Datura.
My first choice was the new Resistance: Burning Skies from Nihilistic Software on the PS Vita. Not only because I dig the Resistance series, but also it would be my first time to pickup and play with a Vita. After getting acclimated to the Vita's controls, I started up the game, and surprisingly, I was bored after a few minutes. The build that I played had no cutscenes, I couldn't hear the sound due to the loud music being played at the venue and the game had some clipping issues which can be expected on an early build. What I played was a very mediocre tutorial level that didn't do much for me.
Resistance: Burning Skies has you playing as Tom Riley, a fireman during the Chimera invasion of the U.S. which seemed like an interesting idea. Unfortunately the game didn't grab me, causing me to put it down after a few minutes. Maybe a more complete build and a better setting will change my mind in the future, so I'm not holding it against the game.
I then picked up Sorcery by The Workshop and SCE Santa Monica Studio. One thing I noticed right away was the game had changed its style from the first time I saw it back at E3 2010. When it was first shown off, Sorcery seemed like a Harry Potter game that used the PS Move. However, this version was a bit darker and felt more like a FPS title. With the Move, you switched from spell to spell by doing a certain motion, and proceed to flick your arm to shoot your wand. If you give your arm a little curve during your shot, you were able to curve the shot around obstacles.
After playing two levels, I really don't see myself needing to play this game when it comes out in May. It seems like more of a title for people that really want to make use of their Move. Speaking of the release date, I had to ask the developer on-site why the game that has been shown for 2 years at E3 has still not come out. He explained there was two reasons: first, the director of the game left and with the director leaving, the team changed the direction of the game to give it a darker feel. Again, if you need a game to use your Move on, then you might want to check out his title.
Two screens over from Sorcery was PixelJunk 4AM from Q-Games. I'm not a PixelJunk fanatic, but I played the hell out of PixelJunk Monsters and respect their drive to create some unique games. PixelJunk 4AM is another Move title that reminds me of the many "be the DJ" games (not DJ Hero) as it's all about using the Move to mix together different tracks of a song. How you make music is after you pick a song, you press a button to pick which track you want to play with like the bass line or the vocals. Then extend your Move arm to different directions until you feel it vibrate. Wherever it vibrates, you pull the wand toward you thus pulling the track into your mix, and if you get tired of that track, then with the wand you motion to throw it away. You can then take a track, hold a button on the Move, and then move it around to put an effect on that track.
The whole experience is going to be great for music lovers and music game fans. I can see people making videos of themselves creating music while dancing around with the Move. PixelJunk 4AM is all about music, so for me, I'm not sold on it, but I do know people that will love this game.
The final game I played was Plastic Studios' Datura, which can be simply called a "mind fuck." If there was another game I could compare it to, it would easily be Deadly Premonition. You start the game in a forest surrounded by mist with no particular guide on where to go. As you move forward, you'll notice weird objects in the forest such as a door. No building connected to the door, just a door by itself. Open the door and there's a bright light, and then you find yourself in a totally different area where there's a task to complete. Once you finish the task, then there's another bright light to reveal that you're back in the forest. Of course, that was my choice, you could avoid the door altogether. There's a lot of choices in the game with each one causing a chain reaction leading you down a different path.
In one instance, there was a pig sleeping in the forest. You could ignore it, or throw a nearby rock at the pig so that it wakes up. When it wakes up, it'll guide you to another path then another white light where you find yourself driving after the light fades away. Datura has an overall creepy vibe to which will surely attract people to it.
My big concern with the game comes with using the Move. The game really makes use of distance requiring a constant moving back and forth to get the right spacing so you can interact with an object. For example, save points are these white trees where a hand will appear for you to manipulate with the Move controller. To touch the tree with your hand, you need to be up close to the camera until the hand reacts to the tree. It just wasn't fluid enough and I told the representative there that this could be a concern. I was then told that the game will offer the use of a controller which should take care of the problem.
Unfortunately, the showing was closing up, as they were going to prepare for their Starhawk event. Of course dumb me, I forgot to even try out Starhawk. Although the SXSW showing from Sony was by no means comparable to what they have at other gaming events, it was the biggest gaming presence at SXSW this year.