In a battle of truly unlikely bedfellows, this week’s games offerings comprise the latest in blue sky and sunshine revivalism from Sumo Digital, “Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing” & Quantic Dream’s eagerly-awaited interactive, neo-Fincher thriller, “Heavy Rain”.
Games further apart in terms of subject matter and play style could hardly be found – the Sumo game is a kid-friendly racer in the well-established mode of “Mario Kart” and it’s ilk, whereas the Quantic offering is a glum, violent tale of child abduction, murder, tragedy and addiction set in the kind of city where it never stops raining and everyone’s having a terrible old time.
I’ve played the demos for both and found them equally engaging, in their own fashion. There’s a lot riding on the potential success of Quantic leader David Cage’s latest game and I found it’s crazy control scheme occasionally off-putting but ultimately rewarding – it’s no real barrier to play if you persevere and the struggle to hit the appropriate face button on the PS3 controller to trigger an on-screen action does what most Quick Time Events, doesn’t by drawing you into the action on screen.
The acting often betrays the decision to use French actors in American speaking roles but it didn’t put me off as much as it did Joystiq’s Justin McElroy – I found this rather counter-balanced in the demo by the eye candy on offer: this game has the most convincing and lovingly-drawn digital characters this side of an animated CG feature (albeit one directed by the aforementioned Mr Fincher).
The Sumo/Sega game, on the other hand offers “Mario Kart”-like racing in gloriously Sega-esque environments from the likes of “House of the Dead”, “Sonic the Hedgehog” and, amongst others, characters from “Space Channel 5”, “Shenmue” and the “Alex Kidd” games. It’s a hit of pure nostalgia, rendered sympathetically by people who clearly love the Japanese company and it’s sunny, smile-inducing back catalogue.
At the risk of sounding like a forum fanboy, “Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing” is the epitome of the Day One purchase for me – and I really don’t care that such a public proclamation makes me target fodder for the kind of FPS-addled lummoxes who so totally befoul Xbox Live.