Time Crisis: Razing Storm
Point-and-shoot lightgun games aren't best known for the their challenging gameplay mechanics and compelling storylines, preferring to instead deliver simple and direct arcade thrills in often shockingly brief and not particularly impressive on-rails packages - yes, we're looking at you, Ghost Squad. And, even when decent on-rail shooters do emerge from the ether of gaming mediocrity (i.e., Dead Space: Extraction), they seldom sell well and rarely leaving a lasting mark.
So, bearing that in mind, and also the West's incomprehensible obsession with 'proper' first-person shooters, what of Namco's chances with Time Crisis: Razing Storm, which is a PlayStation 3 exclusive that supports Move functionality? After spending some time in the company of genial game producer Norihiro Nishimura at Gamescom, we're left with the distinct impression that Namco is definitely looking to prove that quantity occasionally trumps quality.
That's not to say Razing Storm looks or plays bad Glimpses at the main Arcade and Story mode certainly reveal that the game's presentation is pretty solid on Sony's powerhouse console. Granted, this isn't Killzone 3 we're talking about here (it won't win awards for its graphics), but frame rates are pleasingly arcade slick and the visuals are crisp - if not carrying that typically sterile feel that Japanese on-rails shooters tend to peddle.
In terms of blinding with quantity, Nishimura promises that Razing Storm will provide armchair heroes with up to 40 hours of screen-blasting entertainment. While the prospect of working through the game's generic 'terrorists trying to blow up the world' storyline may fill some with dread, we're happy to report that those 40 hours are spread across the Arcade and Story mode of Razing Storm, the full arcade versions of Time Crisis 4 and Deadstorm Pirates, and also multiplayer modes such as Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and Battle Royale (essentially Last Man Standing). That's a whole lot of lightgun action on one Blu-ray disc, no?
Beyond its never-ending arcs of spent shells and rag-doll bodies, the big selling point of Razing Storm lies in its efforts to please both sides of the shooter fanbase. Specifically, once done with the main on-rails Arcade mode, players can plug in their Navigation sub-controller (if they have one) and work through Story mode, which plays as a traditional FPS adventure. Using the Navigation controller's analogue stick for momentum and the Move itself for aiming, Story mode has been designed to complement the Arcade mode and should, we're told, be played directly afterward in order to better understand how it expands the story. Clearly looking to appeal to hardcore FPS fans, Story mode even includes a cover mechanic that can be executed by simply snapping the Move towards the ceiling.
From a gameplay perspective, the Move definitely offers up reliable precision and there were no problems with accuracy while working alongside and in conjunction with Nishimura in Deadstorm Pirates. Clearing the watery decks of onrushing skeletal pirates was fun enough, as was the challenge of buddying-up on specific targets in order to inflict more damage and score bonus points.
Please note: I died only the once during the level. Nishimura came close but escaped the clutches of Davey Jones. However, I scored a higher overall points percentage. He sucks, and I told him so.
When asked about possible advantages or disadvantages between using the Move controller as opposed to the game-compatible Guncon peripheral, Nishimura said both work well, but the Move technology does provide tighter precision due to its accompanying tracking assistance. By comparison, the Guncon, while great, is wholly reliant on only its light beam and corner-to-corner screen calibration.
Other in-game features promised for the main Razing Storm package include an arsenal of around eight different weapons (we got to see an assault rifle and the odd hurled grenade), varying fire modes via in-game power-ups, and the inclusion of fully destructible environments. According to Nishimura, players will be able to tactically destroy flashing elements within the environment, explaining how ripping gunfire into a flashing concrete pillar beneath enemies on a walkway will degrade it and eventually cause it to collapse, bring the enemies down with it.
Namco hasn't yet put a price on the Razing Storm package, but we're told that it's aiming to be extremely competitive - it will have to be when considering that PlayStation 3 owners might perhaps need to fully invest in Move or a compatible Guncon peripheral if they want to get trigger happy. The package might not be a complete money drain though, as Namco has said Story mode players can also use the left analogue stick of their regular PS3 controllers if they're not armed with the sub-controller. Hmm, good luck balancing that on your knee while whipping the Move controller all over the place.
Time Crisis: Razing Storm will be released this coming November on PlayStation 3. Namco assures us that it will remain a Sony exclusive, claiming that the game is not well suited to either Microsoft Kinect (poor focal precision) or Nintendo Wii (generally just not good enough).