Video Game DEMO-lition: EA Sports MMA, Hydrophobia, More

Video Game DEMO-lition: EA Sports MMA

Not a lot of demos this week, with only EA's MMA as a new demo on PS3, and just a couple others on Xbox 360. Still, here these three are!

Hydrophobia (Xbox Live Arcade)

This third person action adventure promises a lot, but in the short demo of the game’s opening act it unfortunately shows off very little.  As the game’s story is set up, you guide the lead character, a female systems engineer cast in the Jade from mold, through an unfolding disaster about a massive city-ship in the not too distant future.  You get a couple of opportunities to experience the game’s functional platforming and mechanics as well as a hacking minigame, but the flowing water physics, which is billed as game’s primary selling point, is only experienced for a brief span right at the end. The game also hints at addressing the psychological aspect hinted in the game’s title as well as some ‘pesudo-supernatural’ water control action featuring the nanotechnology that spurs the game’s plot.

ArcaniA - Gothic 4 (Xbox 360 Retail)

Gamers looking to fill the gap of medieval fantasy action RPGs between and have an option with ArcaniA - Gothic 4, albeit not a very good one.  The demo sets you right off on a series of fetch quests that teach you melee, ranged and magical combat one at a time after some painfully stilted and forced setups.  Shockingly, the mission to kill (mole)rats for a local farmer is only teased and not playable.  Reading through the menus reveals a crafting/alchemy aspect that will be in the final game and a limited character development tree.  Visually, ArcaniA - Gothic 4 is more than anything else, with lackluster animations and flat feeling environmental objects.  Adventure bound gamers are implored to fire up their HD monitors as well, the menu screens (some which aren’t fully translated from the game’s original German) are loaded with very tiny copy that is barely legible.

EA Sports MMA (Xbox 360/PS3 Retail)

EA’s first foray into Mixed Martial Arts video gaming borrows heavily from their boxing series, especially in the stand-up fighting.  The use of the right analog as the “hit stick” still feels organic, when used in combination with the shoulder and trigger buttons to modify the attacks, even with the inevitable thumb fatigue.  However once the fight transfers to the ground, as it frequently does, the game changes into a combination button masher and prompt-free QTE sequence as you jockey for leverage against your opponent.  The trick, which is not made clear in either the tutorial bout or in a ‘real’ match (between a single pair of Middleweights and Heavyweights who’s name would only be recognizable to hardcore MMA fans), is to tap buttons to either escape or reverse a grapple, but only trial and error will reveal what actually works in these situations.  Once you gain a clear advantage, the opportunity given to you to pound away on your foe is very satisfying.  Despite the fact that the roster is mostly unrecognizable, the character models are very well put together, and the potential problematic aspect of fighters interacting in very close quarters is handled very well. EA has also added to the demo their usual bag of tricks, like an unlockable fighter if you share the demo to enough of your XBL or PSN friends and an option to get e-mails sent to you about the game ‘and other great EA products.’


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