Tuesday, February 2, 2016

DEMO-lition: Project X Zone 2

Sorry for the late post. I thought I would be able to finish the small indie game I was playing on Sunday, BUT that game turned out to be a bit longer and more ball-busting than my initial assessment. Simply put, I am not yet finished with the game. In light of that I have been playing something that I can at least talk a little bit about and that is the demo for Project X Zone 2 (the "X" in this title is suppose to be pronounced as "Cross").

So what, if you don't know already, is Project X Zone and why does it have a sequel? Well, Project X Zone is the successor to Namco X Capcom, a SRPG released only in Japan for the PS2 where protagonists from the two companies join forces to defeat their respective adversaries as well as a force that threatens the entire Cross-over multiverse. Project X Zone added a third company to the mix, SEGA, and moved the series onto the 3DS because the developer is Monolith Soft, who is now owned by Nintendo. I have a full review of the game here. Strangely enough, PXZ was successful enough (especially in the West) to warrant a sequel and thus Project X Zone 2, which maintains the current line up of participating companies, but also adds a few Nintendo characters to the ultimate roster. The game releases later this month, but for those of you who want a taste of what's to come a Demo is available on the eShop which is want I'm about to look into today.

I apologize for the Japanese.
Unlike the demos for the first Project X Zone (which was two demos that showcased two different battles at different points in the game), PXZ2's demo takes the player through the first Prologue, as well as Chapter 2 and 3 of the game, so in terms of seeing the roster in action it's a little bit of a disappointment as the only characters you will see are Namco X Capcom stars Reiji and Xiaomu, Resident Evil's Chris and Jill, Heihachi, Kazuya, and Jin from Tekken, Dimitri and Morrigan from Darkstalkers (if Capcom EVER makes another game), two guys from Yakuza who's names I can't remember, and Phoenix Wright and Maya from well Phoenix Wright. The first thing you will notice, if you played the original PXZ, is that the battle tactics system has completely revamped. Before allies and enemies are ordered by SPD and act in that order. This time around the game uses a Phase based system where you can move all allies during the Player Phase and the enemies move during the Enemy Phase, ala Fire Emblem. I don't like or dislike either method of turn structure, though I do see this mode solving the problem of having a character act after all the enemies around him as already been defeated. Another change that seems to have occurred is the addition of SP. In the first game, all allies share a XP gauge or Cross Points. These were used on things like Skills that heal or add buffs, responses to enemy attacks either counter or defend, but mainly used for the over-the-top Special Attacks. XP returns but is now displayed on the bottom screen at all times, but now each team has their own SP which is used for skills and responses. This leaves XP to only be used for Special Attacks and to nullify enemy attacks. But of course, the main draw for Project X Zone is the combat sequences.

Lots of numbers flying around. Ridiculous attacks flying. Yep, this is PXZ.
What sets Project X Zone apart from other SRPGs is its combat sequences. Instead of just having a stock animation play as the computer determines whether or not you hit your target and how much damage you dealt, here you actively unleash massive flurry of blows as our cross-over cast showcases their signature moves. At first glance PXZ 2 doesn't do anything that really differs from the first game. Attacks are still mapped to the A button and the four directions of the D-pad, hitting the enemy just before  they hit the ground nets a Critical hit, and dealing damage fills the XP gauge. However, some little changes here and there are noticeable. For one, enemy HP (at least in this part of the game) isn't very high and most enemies go down in only one flurry of attacks, and if you think you can juggle enemy corpses like you can in the original PXZ for larger combos and more XP then you are wrong as dead enemies disappear a lot quicker this time around. Also, you are more discouraged from such activities as unused attacks become more powerful for the next combat sequence making you more conservative with your moves. Another difference is that unlike the first game where you are given a number of attacks equal to the number of different moves you have (and giving you a bonus attack if you use each of your moves once) here the number of attacks is displayed separately with no bonus to how many of your different moves you used. And lastly, before the XP gauge maxes out at 100 with it only going up to 150 upon netting Cross Hits (having your main team and either Solo characters or another team hitting the enemy at the same time); however, this time the gauge goes up to 150 normally and getting Cross hits will only stun the enemy and set up Cross Breaks for massive damage. I don't know how, all of these changes will effect the game in the long run, but one noticeable difference in the demo is that battles tend to be finished a lot faster as you are not beating a dead enemy as much as before.

"I'm gonna kick you in the nuts!"
Beyond the three battles available, the game does feature the Intermission time between Chapters, which has a few needed additions for the RPG portion of this SRPG, namely this time around you have access to a store to buy new goods as well as the ability to upgrade Attacks and learn and assign passive abilities using CP (Custom Points) gained during combat. Those, along with the changes made to the combat system, might be small things, but perhaps they will all add up to make Project X Zone 2 a far more worthwhile game than it's predecessor. Unfortunately, I can't really tell that from the Demo considering a LOT of Project X Zone 1 problems started to surface towards the end of game when there isn't much new to keep the experience fresh. But hey, I was entertained by the first game, hopefully this one will do the same.

Until next time.

-CRES, I can't figure out what is the better inclusion, this or Vergil.

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