We’re Still in the Game!
May 2, 2007 – Konami had a big hit on their hands with the PSP version of Coded Arms. The success of the game has led them to create a new version for the PS3: Coded Arms Assault. It’s virtually the same game as the original, just stepped up for the console version.
Both versions take place in a fully digital realm. The player takes the part of a hacker who is infiltrating an unused military combat training computer. In the hopes of hacking into the system and obtaining whatever code or other cybernetic loot remains, you enter the system like a player in an FPS. All is well until you start exploring the off-limits portions of the system. That’s when things get a little hairy. Perhaps “buggy” is the word.
The system is protected by a variety of computer-generated sentinels, from the low-level “bugs” to the bosses, some of which tower many stories high. The bugs are the typical biomechanical creepy-crawlies, a few of which resemble insects, while others resemble a cross between a frog and a razorback. The bulk of the enemies the player will face are humanoid soldier drones. Created by the computer to take you out on-foot, these are typical soldier bots armed with assault rifles and not much brains. The slightly more advanced bots have significantly more armor and body mass, not to mention smarts. Watch out for those guys. They look a bit like Man-At-Arms. Then again, that reference only makes sense if you were born in the late 70s or early 80s. Suffice it to say, they’re like little tanks. As the player advances, he’ll have to take on various bosses, and that’s when things get serious.
One of the biggest bosses featured in Konami’s preview trailers is sort of a marvel of design. He’s several stories high, glowing orange, and built entirely out of headless drone bodies. Each body has a three-dimensional barcode for a head and dangles lifelessly as he stomps around the virtual city. Needless to say, it’s a bizarre image, but it’s nothing compared to when you open up on him with a bazooka. If he’s any indication of the visual quality and inventiveness of the game’s enemy characters, it should be an interesting ride. Konami has been very generous with releasing cutscenes, screenshots, and real-time gameplay videos, and they all look great.
The graphics seem to be the most obvious asset of Coded Arms Assault. The digital cityscapes range from a neon-soaked nighttime haze reminiscent of Blade Runner, to wide open daytime streets that look like a suddenly vacant Tokyo. The gameplay footage is startlingly good, with little or no lag and exceptional framerate. The real-time footage looks pretty close to the cutscenes, which are visually stunning themselves. It’s essentially a straightforward FPS, but the unique visuals actually affect the gameplay.
Much of the environment is destructible, even allowing the player to take debris and use it against the enemy. Using and eliminating ground cover will play an important role in shootouts on the street. Players, objects, and buildings will be destroyed and manipulated, but remember: this is a digital world. Rather than pitting concrete or leaving gaping holes in enemy armor, little hexagons appear where the bullets hit, static and light surges appear when taking damage, and all that’s left of enemies when they die is their vector outline.
The game looks a lot like a cross between Stranglehold and Tron 2.0. There’s nonstop action with a bizarre VR component that lends the experience a game-within-a-game feeling. Between the endless army of bugs and bots, the frenetic visuals, and the lush environmental sound effects, it seems a little busy. The gameplay itself is very simple, and the sensory assault may be a big hit with fans of the FPS genre. There are several modes of play which should give any player something to sink their teeth into.
The primary focus of the game is the single player storyline, but multiplayer and cooperative modes are available as well. In the cooperative version, up to four players can play through the game together online. It’s a mode of play often overlooked by developers, but one that can offer some of the most satisfying gaming. The multiplayer mode is the typical sort found in any FPS, but its frenetic pace and high-quality visuals should set it apart. The game includes a wide variety of weapons which preview audiences assure us can do many all kinds of wonderful things. The ratio of satisfaction-per-explosion should be very high.
Like a lot of Japanese games, the story is a bit obtuse and developers haven’t bothered to explain or modify it for audiences abroad. The essential purpose of the game is very clear: kill all the bad guys without getting killed. In the end, this is all the FPS market really wants anyway.
A PSP hit like Coded Arms will have its share of sequels, not all of them good. But with its exceptional graphics and nonstop action, Coded Arms Assault should make FPS fans very happy.
Coded Arms gets an overhaulin’ for the PS3
by Patrick Evans
July 14, 2006 – On the PSP, Coded Arms did not match some people’s expectations. One of the first original IPs on PSP, the hopes were high that Coded Arms would provide a unique first-person experience on the go. Now setting its eyes on the PS3, Konami hopes that the second time is a charm.
Details on Coded Arms have been scant since Konami’s press meeting at E3. While the industry remains fixated on Metal Gear Solid 4, Coded Arms had a respectable showing of its own. Players will challenge a malicious super-corporation set on destruction by unleashing devastating computer viruses and blasting through adversaries in the cyberworld with downloaded weaponry. Is the random level generator going to make the next-gen jump as well? Details remain few and far between, giving the industry plenty of room to speculate.
The visuals that we saw in the E3 demo and in screenshots are incredible. Action shots show a futuristic/fantasy style laced with “Matrix” like code throughout. When taking down an enemy, their wireframe stays in place momentarily while their body hits the ground, which certainly gives Coded Arms a unique look. Utilizing the Unreal Engine 3, enemies animate with realism while environments blow apart convincingly. Movements on the main character in first-person view are also highlighted, showing the character pressing buttons on his armpiece/gun.
Online gameplay will be another focus of the Konami team during development. Announced thus far is four-player cooperative story-mode and 16 player deathmatch support. In addition, Konami promises plenty of vehicle combat as well, including air- and land-based units.
While the details may be scant, the few indications point to an excellent gameplay experience. Growing in the shadow of MGS4, Coded Arms may very well become the surprise-hit on PS3 when it releases sometime next year.