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Wet, Dirt 2 & Mini Ninjas PS3 Demo Impressions

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This week’s North American PlayStation Network store update was tame. So tame that I decided to take a peek in the European store for new content. To my surprise, stashed away in the Euro store were four demos and a plethora of trailers from Gamescom 2009. I spent time with three of the four demos including Wet, Dirt 2 and some game called Mini Ninjas.

I didn’t plan on buying any of these games this year (or ever, in some cases) and after trying out the demos, my stance remains relatively the same. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t entertained with what I tried.

Wet

Wet

I came away from the Wet demo with the same sentiment I felt after The Wheelman demo; I felt bad ass. Sort of. Wet doesn’t take itself too seriously with its one button knee slides and buckets of blood. It reminds me of a poor man’s Tarantino film.

The game stars a chick who has an uncanny resemblance to 1UP’s Teanah. Rubi wields dual pistols (shock!), a sword (double shock!) and a knack of going into slow motion whenever she fires her guns in midair (sorry all shocked out). Slow motion is a necessity in Wet simply because outside of it, the game felt imprecise and slippery. Platforming and running about just didn’t feel right.

What makes Wet what it is are the kill driven combo and health regeneration systems; I must kill to regain health. The stylized action is simple and canned, just like The Wheelman, but when you’re diving through the air popping heads then sliding into a guy’s feet only to split him two with a swift sword slice:  that’s bad ass.

Rivaling the badassery of the action are the visual filters and soundtrack. Both brought out that campy feel I mentioned earlier with great effect. It’s a credit to the game and I’m glad it’s there. Unfortunately those inclusions aren’t enough to convince me that Wet is worth a full price tag. And certainly not in the September 2009 release window.

Dirt 2

Dirt 2

I knew what I what I wanted out of the Dirt 2 demo. Off road racing with gorgeous visuals and a stylish menu front end. This demo didn’t disappoint.

I’m not big on the whole realistic off road racing thing and yet I’m fascinated enough it to dip my toes in this demo. The controls felt more-or-less the same to the Dirt demo I tried a couple of years back. It’s incredibly sensitive and although its dirt that I’m driving through, it felt a lot like snow and ice. Is that an accurate representation? I don’t know. All I know is that I’m terrible at it.

The two tracks, Baja and Morroco, featured a stadium event and a traditional rally circuit. I had more success with the latter. I can’t blame performance issues for my lack of success because Dirt 2 ran like a champ at 30 FPS. And considering how good it looks, I was amazed.

However, regardless of how great it runs or looks, I can’t see myself playing it for extended periods of time. I’m just not that big of a fan. I’m sure it’ll find its audience this coming September 8th though. It’s seems like an off road racer’s dream game.

Mini Ninjas

Mini Ninjas

This 1 GB demo was the surprise of the night for me. Mini Ninjas? What the hell is that? Sounds like a ninja game for the little ones and you know what? It is. But what kind of game is it? That’s what I didn’t know coming into this demo.

At first I thought it was going to be a 3-D character action game like God of War, but for kids. But no. It turns out that this little gem is an adventure game with light combat on the side.

I was immediately reminded of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker when I first laid eyes on it. The light hearted cartoon style was easy on the eyes and will undoubtedly age well. However, the art direction wasn’t the key ingredient which won me over. It wasn’t the combat either which I found to be a little tricky with the sensitive reticule. It was the simpler things.

Simple things like being able to use the little ninja’s hat as a personal boat to go white water rafting and being able to switch to one of the three ninja arch-types available in this demo. For example, the fat one with his giant club was suited to take out the larger enemies. And that’s not all. There was even a spell which allowed me to transfer the ninja’s spirit into an animal. At first I tried a panda and that was awesome. I don’t think I ever played a game where you could possess a panda and start mauling samurai warriors with it. Any game which allows me to be a panda deserves some amount of praise!

Of course there was no blood to be found in this game. It is meant for kids after all. Defeated warriors received the Sonic the Hedgehog treatment and instantly transformed to an animal of some sort which I discovered you could possess as well. A fox, a frog and even a little kitty; I possessed them all. Will they add a stealth element to the game with these animals? I hope so. It has so much potential.

If you can’t tell, I was charmed by Mini Ninjas and as a fan of adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda, it didn’t take long for it to grab hold. The cute aesthetics may be a turn off for some, but I thought it looked gorgeous in high definition. And just like with the other games I’ve tried, Mini Ninjas is squeezing itself into the September time frame which means I won’t be picking it up any time soon. It’s the closest thing to a high definition Zelda game sans the Zelda license and I’m sure any kid who gets it this holiday season will have fun with it.

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