Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (Xbox 360/PS3 Retail)
In the demo (the same LucasArts displayed at Star Wars: Celebration V) for this highly anticipated sequel the player and the player character get to lash out at the purposely obtuse circumstances of your situation as a prisoner/test subject on the ‘clone homeworld’ of Kamino. After a quick rundown of the control basics you bust out in spectacular fashion and proceed to cut a dual lightsabered swath though the first level, picking up tips on using both familiar (force lighting) and new (the Jedi mind trick, which can turn a foe to your side or send them off a ledge in suicidal fear). Apart from Stormtroopers of the standard, staff-wielding and jetpack variety, you face a carbonite spewing battle robot that can be finished with a QTE sequence, flingable TIE fighters and AT-STs that are quickly dispatched with the new “Force Fury” mode. The lengthy demo level starts you partially powered up, letting you toy around with the different combos and mentally note where the power-ups are for the full game. Overall, the combat doesn’t feel that different from the previous title and promises more exploration of the events between the two film trilogies.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (Xbox 360/PS3 Retail)
The demo for the latest iteration of Konami’s soccer franchise is the perfect reminder that PES is not for the casual fan. In a pair of ten-minute matches with four teams (FC Barcelona verses Bayern München or Copa Libertadores verses Internacional) the player can explore the dozens of button combos that allow for just about any possible form of ball handling, juke movement and defensive styles. The challenging gameplay is pure simulation, with no arcade-style auto-passing and the ability/requirement to plan your team’s on-field strategy. After the game, a lengthy video shows off Pro Evolution Soccer 2011’s deep create-a-player/stadium/league capabilities and its custom on-line multiplayer league mode complete with drafts and free agent signings.
Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 (Xbox 360 Retail)
With the regularity of the passing of the seasons, there is now another 3D fighter utilizing the Dragon Ball license. In the demo, you can select between Super Saiyan Goku, Kid Buu, the Demon King Dabura and Ultimate Gohan (all voiced by their English voice over actors) for a one on one brawl with the computer or a second player in one of two arenas. The gameplay is based off the two-button light/strong button system with full 3D movement, including flight. Battles consist mainly of jockeying for position to deliver combos that knock you opponent far enough back so you can charge your ki meter with the show’s trademark stand-and-scream mechanic. Unless you are just discovering the decades old show, there is nothing, revealed in the demo at least, to draw experienced players away from any Dragon Ball title they already own.
Sonic 4 Episode 1 (Xbox Live Arcade, PSN)
Sonic fans clamoring for the series to return to its roots get exactly what they ask for in the first episode of the downloadable title Sonic 4. A continuation of the purely side-scrolling gameplay style largely abandoned sixteen years ago, Sonic 4 includes the spin dash and the homing attack, however even on a 16:9 screen the camera is pushed in too far, exaggerating a long-standing problem with the series: not being able to see where you are going. The Sonic character model has also been rendered in 3D, a jarring visual against the sprite-based feel of the both the background and the foreground. Finally, the demo only incorporates the first act of the first zone, ending the action (even for a novice player) just minutes after it begins.
Dead Space Ignition (Xbox Live Arcade, PSN -Free Download with Pre-Order)
In a severe departure from it’s 3rd person action/adventure roots, Dead Space Ignition is puzzle/mini-game collection that tells the story of the events between the original Dead Space and it’s upcoming sequel. The story, told by the way of interactive motion comics, is of a pair of hardware techs that can only survive a nercomorph attack by successfully completing one of a series of three mini-games of escalating difficulty. The first type (one of which is the only game of any type you can play the demo) requires you to direct a red dot to the end of a maze while racing dots of a different color. The second is a laser-refecting puzzle, and the final one is billed as tower ‘offense’ as direct a viral onslaught against a computer’s defense programs. Apart from setting the narrative stage for Dead Space 2, the demo (when successfully competed) will unlock an alternate outfit for series star Isaac Clarke. The game is free for those that pre-order 2011's Dead Space 2, and looks form the demo like a pretty solid bonus as those things come.Have you tried any of these out? What did you think?