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What We Know: Square Enix is bringing the Crystal Chronicles series to the Wii, but in a whole new direction. Crystal Bearers ditches the normal Crystal Chronicles format in favor of a much more action adventure based affair that’s one of the best looking Wii titles to date.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers Arrives December 26

What's New At TGS: Players control Layle using the Wiimote and Nunchuck, and as a Crystal Bearer, Layle has a special magic ability to control and move objects, characters, and enemies by pointing at them with the Wiimote. Not only that, but he can grapple onto ledges and floating bars to traverse platforming sections. In the demo, while Layle and Belle are exploring an underground cavernous dungeon, they become separated, and Layle chases her down. I’m going to assume this demo takes place early on in the game considering the fact that the platforming is fairly basic. Point to an area you want to jump to and press A. Later in the levels, the platforms start to move and float around making navigation more difficult. It also doesn’t help that you control the camera with the D-pad, so if you’re jumping around and then your next desired location is in back of you, you need to stop, move the camera, and then jump slowing down the pace quite a bit.

The combat is also quite simplistic, just grab an object and toss it at incoming enemies. Upon reaching a room populated with a few baddies, all you have to do is nab a nearby boulder and whip it at an approaching enemy. A much more interesting encounter happened when while running down a hallway I set off a trap, which sent a moving skeletal demon platform towards me that had a door in the middle branded with an arrow on it. By locking onto the door it and jerking the Wiimote in the desired direction, the demons would attack, and by latching onto them would cause them to jab the platform. It was actually a pretty neat combat mechanic and I hope Square-Enix has gobs of things like this in the game to keep things fresh.

What We Want To See:  A deeper and richer combat system. Enemies were sparse and combat is a bit too easy, and I hope later on in the game there’s more complex battles. There was an over abundance of running through long halls in this demo, and I’d rather fight a lot more enemies, and keep the action going than just running. Yawn. Square-Enix is demonstrating  a solid presentation for a Wii title, but the combat, camera, and lack of battles needs some attention.
 


As Saturday is an insanely crowded public day at Tokyo Game Show, after shooting a pile of pictures and finishing up a final appointment, I headed back to Tokyo for my last order of TGS business – a visit to Polyphony Digital, the home of Gran Turismo.

TGS09: A Visit To The Home of Gran Turismo - Polyphony Digital

Being a huge fan of the series I’ve always wanted to visit the studio, and as you can see by this photo gallery, the place is pretty incredible. We got a lengthy presentation of Gran Turismo 5 from series creator and Polyphony CEO Kazunori Yamauchi, some time with the game (see our hands-on preview of Gran Turismo 5), and a tour of their location. This place is no joke. From having one of the largest server processing rooms (and cools Kazunori’s wine collection), an elevator that lifts cars into the studio, to a hotel for staff to sleep – Polyphony Digital is one of the most interesting studios I’ve ever visited.

Words can barely describe, so make sure you check out our Polyphony Digital Studio Tour photo gallery to see for yourself!
 




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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker TGS 2009 Demo Impressions

What We Know: Hideo Kojima quitting after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots? Not so much. Kojima-san is back at the helm of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and, as we revealed in our GamesCom coverage, the game is playable for the first time at Tokyo Game Show – in both single-player and cooperative modes. The sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Peace Walker puts you in the shoes of Snake/Big Boss in Costa Rica where the back-story about Outer Heaven’s formation is revealed.

What’s New at TGS: Quite a bit. First off, Peace Walker will have two control schemes. "Action" type is traditional MGS control, much like Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. But a big improvement is the new control scheme – simply dubbed "Shooter" type. Very similar to MGS4 where the stick controls Snake’s movement, the face buttons control the camera, the left shoulder button arms selected items and weapons, and the right shoulder button fires. The D-pad controls crouches, toggles weapon and item selection, and performs context sensitive actions.

The demo opens as Snake is training his unit of Soldiers Without Borders -- Snake’s new outfit -- which more or less acts as a tutorial level. CQC has also been improved as now you can throw enemies into each other and take them out. There’s also a new CQC move set called Continuous CQC where you can link CQC throws when surrounded by timing attacks correctly. Overall, for someone who struggled a bit with the Portable Ops controls, this new scheme felt quite comfortable and in practice was extremely lethal.

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Assassin’s Creed II Preview

What We Know: I recently saw the game demoed at GamesCom, and I've already noted that Assassin’s Creed II is taking out one of the biggest problems I had with the original -- repetitive missions. Ubisoft is back with an all new demo showing the lengths Ubisoft is going to vary up the gameplay.

What’s New at TGS: The demo features a brand new mission in which Ezio has to take out a team of archers, and then complete a final assassination. As one who got completely burnt on the first game due to doing the same quest types and investigations over and over again, seeing a chunk of a level like this was quite refreshing. Tasked with dropping five archers perched upon rooftops, Ezio clears them out and lets imposters move into place to further the mission. Combat is greatly expanded, and not only did we witness Ezio scale buildings and then pull unsuspecting archers off their posts, but he can also use one as a shield before head slamming two enemies at once. However the coolest kill I saw was Ezio punching an archer, kicking him, breaking his arm, and then picking him up and throwing him off the building. Even though I liked the combat from the first game, Assassin’s Creed II’s combat is looking even more engrossing.

While in Assassin’s Creed you could hide among Priests, now you have two factions to choose from -- Courtesans and Thieves. Courtesans will tempt guards and woo them with their female charms, while thieves will follow you to the rooftops and help you battle enemies to allow you to get to your destination faster. We saw the Courtesans in action, and it was pretty fun to see Ezio send them off to sucker some guards while he slinked by.

What I Want to See: Even more variety! I really wanted to love the first title, but I got about two-thirds through the game and just couldn’t bear picking another freakin’ pocket, or listening in on a conversation. What do I want to do? Kill! When do I want to do it? A LOT! The last two demonstrations of the game have varied up missions quite a bit, and I hope Ubisoft’s promise of variety continues throughout the whole game. So far, I’m hopeful.
 

 

Monday was an adjustment day for jetlag for the nerd army. The time change with going to Japan is pretty brutal for people not used to it, and since we had some free time before everything got underway, I decided to take the nerd army on a sort of nerd tour through some of my favorite spots in Tokyo. Akihabara, otherwise known as Electric Town is the usual place to flock for gamers. While it's shrunk in the last 10 years, there's still heaps of game shops and arcades to check out. Two of the main ones are owned by Sega and Taito, and while I'm not a fan of the Sega arcade, the Taito one sucked quite a few yen out of our pockets.

TGS 09: Pre-TGS Arcade Trip

As someone who grew up in arcades, it's quite refreshing to see them still flourish here in Japan. From kids to business men, the age group varies quite a bit to who plays games. Here's a couple of videos of some of the latest and greatest games to be found in Japanese arcades. Take that Gameworks and Dave and Busters!

Tokyo Arcade - Half-Life 2 »


 

Tokyo Arcade - Taiko Drum Master »


 

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I’ve been getting a lot of crap from people about the fact that the last few LFTDs have been centralized around the events we’ve been attending, and for the most part it’s because being involved with the planning and then attending these shows more or less takes over a good chunk of my life. The last couple of weeks and months we’ve been architecting our assault on Tokyo Game Show, which is the last really big show of the year. And for the last few days, there’s been a number of us finalizing into the wee hours of the evening what I believe is one of the best schedules I’ve seen for this show in a long time.

Letter From The Director: Tokyo Bound

The timing of this show pretty much destroys the space time continuum, and I suggest you adjust your clocks because Tokyo is 16 hours ahead into the future! Perhaps download some widget thingamabob to get on Tokyo time to be ready for our non-stop Tokyo coverage! Or just click here if you’re lazy sauce.

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PAX 2009 was my first PAX and may already be my favorite show of the year. Granted, TGS hasn’t happened yet, but there were a few reasons why I think the Penny Arcade folks should be commended for what they’ve accomplished as far as a video game show.

Most people would compare PAX to something in the realm of “it’s a Comic-Con that’s focused on video games that doesn’t smell as bad.” While completely true, and I think I can speak for everyone that went about being happy about the lack of “dude smell” – it’s a show by gamers, for gamers. Granted, as press we got some great content out of the show, but PAX isn’t for the press. It’s for the gamers. And as a gamer, I think that’s fantastic.

Letter From The Director: PAX Is Changing The Game

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We've been getting a nice flow of reader questions from you for our reader question of the week for Feedback, and we need another batch for the next few weeks. Remember, your question has a much better chance of getting picked if you have an avatar icon next to your name. It makes Raymond happy. It makes Steve happy! It makes us all happy! So get an avatar if you don't have one already, k?

Feedback: Reader Questions Needed!

While this week Feedback will resume it's regular-ish schedule and be dropped sometime on Thursday evening, this weekend we're shooting an uber-special live taping of Feedback at PAX with Adam, Morgan, Blair, Sterling, and Patrick! If you're at PAX, make sure you swing by and check out the show!

Tags: G4

After a stint on the home team during Comic-Con a little while ago, it was time to get my hands dirty again and get back into the field. Hitting the road – whether it’s DICE, GDC, E3, QuakeCon, GamesCom, Tokyo Game Show  – these are the things that I live for in this industry. Regardless of the team only getting 3-5 hours of sleep per night, and is exhausted after knocking out each day of the show – there’s something that each of us laugh about when the day is done – we are so f%$&ing lucky to be able to do what we do.

Letter From The Director: Looking Back At GamesCom

Looking back a few days after returning from this German show, it’s amazing to see how massive it’s become. This is Europe’s only real big show, and even though there have been European shows in the past (such as ECTS), Europe isn’t going to let all the video game fun happen in North America and Japan any longer. Each year it gets bigger and bigger. Just seeing what the major companies debuted at this show is a testament to why GamesCom is becoming an important yearly event. Sony pulling back the curtains on the PS3 slim and debuting the new PSP store and Minis, to Microsoft and Peter Molyneux not only announcing Fable II episodes, but Fable III, GamesCom is becoming another outlet to announce big new things.

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Microsoft’s big surpise reveal at their GamesCom 2009 press briefing was Peter Molyneux introducing Fable III. Granted, getting to play Fable II in episodic chunks was also a big surprise, but it was the debut of Fable III that shook the city of Cologne. We got the exclusive opportunity to chat with Molyneux about Fable III and some of the elements that Lionhead are incorporating into the game including becoming the king of Albion, the concept of dynamic touch, what judgments are, and more. Now that you get to rule the kingdom, will the story of Fable end with Fable III? Molyneux dishes out the answers.

US Exclusive Interview: Peter Molyneux Talks Fable III »


And since we could, we had to ask if Molyneux if he would ever consider getting involved with another Syndicate title or Populous. While EA holds the rights to these games, Molyneux apparently has heard there’s something cooking with them. Very interesting indeed. 

Are you excited for Fable III? Are you going to download Fable II's episodes to try the game out? What would you like to see in a new Syndicate or Populous?

Final Fantasy fans have been bitching for quite a while that they got stiffed on a demo of Final Fantasy XIII with the US Blu-ray : release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, but we’ve just received news that may calm the masses. Today while we saw the ridiculously amazing new Final Fantasy XIII demo, we had to ask XIII Producer Yoshinori Kitase whether or not the US audience would finally see a demo.

GamesCom 2009: US Final Fantasy XIII Demo Most Likely Coming

G4: So is there still a chance the Final Fantasy XIII demo will ever see the light of day here in the US?

Yoshinori Kitase: We haven't really confirmed anything yet, but we'd like to provide something in downloadable form for players overseas.

G4: Are you sick of people asking for it?

Kitase: (laughs) No, I'm happy to hear it.

As Kitase told us in our interview, the localized US version of the title is approximately 70% complete. Could Square-Enix deliver a little downloadable gift before the holidays? We'd sure trade a Chocobo for it!

Our full Final Fantasy XIII interview will hit G4tv.com next week...

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During our GamesCom Lost Planet 2 interview with Capcom’s Jun Takeuchi, we slipped in a few Resident Evil questions. Considering his involvement with Resident Evil 5, we asked him a number of questions about that game as well. But when asked whether or not he would be involved in the development process for Resident Evil 6, we we’re quite taken back by his answer.

GamesCom 2009: Who Will Produce Resident Evil 6?

G4: Are you on the next Resident Evil title?

Jun Takeuchi: (laughs) There are probably three candidates and they’ve been playing blackjack for a long time to pick the role of producer for the next one. But they haven’t decided yet. They have me doing something else. Go, or something like that. Blackjack wasn’t working.

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Konami GamesCom 2009 Press Conference »


UPDATE: The video has now been added for your viewing pleasure.

Jam packed in a room a quarter the size of the other GamesCom press conferences, Konami is hosting its annual press conference. With people standing on top of people who are standing on top of people who are sitting – the place is packed. And they’re not here hoping for a Rock Revolution sequel announcement, either. Word has obviously made it out there would be news coming for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and Pro Evolution 2010.

As the lights dim, a sizzle reel starts spinning. Titled “Konami is Legendary,” the trailer rolls through different emotions Konami games provide. But more importantly, the video rips through clips of upcoming or recently released Konami titles such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Saw, Karaoke Revolution, Yu-Gi -Oh!, and more.

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Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker

While the latest trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker just being shown at the Konami Press Conference at GamesCom, we’ve caught wind that the game will see its first playable debut at Tokyo Game Show 2009. This isn’t all too surprising, however. Historically, a Metal Gear Solid game will see a short trailer debut at E3, then at Games Convention in Leipzig (now which is GamesCom in Cologne) see an expanded trailer, and then the following Tokyo Game Show that same game will be playable. History will most likely repeat itself again this year.

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Wow, jet lag is a treat! Well, the G4tv.com crew has finally landed in Cologne, Germany, and we’ve got our press badges, and we’re patiently waiting to get things going. We’re calling today Day 0 because the main GamesCom floors have yet to open, and outside of getting yelled at for accidentally going where we weren’t supposed to go (oops!) we’re prepping for the day’s events.

GamesCom 2009: It Begins
 
Day 0 coverage will include the EA Press Conference and the Sony Press Conference. The EA press conference begins at 4:30pm Germany time, and the Microsoft Press Conference begins at 6:30pm. We’ll have breakout reports from each of the press conferences, and we’ll be trickling video out as fast as we can kick it out.

What surprises these conferences will hold are still unknown. Both EA and Sony generally go pretty big from these shows – since they’re both loved quite a bit in Europe – so we're guessing there should be some fun announcements.

Stay tuned for heaps of coverage from GamesCom 2009! Or as they say here in Germany, “Da ist ein Unfall passiert. Da war eine laute Explosion. Es war nicht mein Fehler. Sie müssen zur Polizei gehen.”
 

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