Part Three of our EGX Rezzed hands-on previews looks at Wired Productions GRIP, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn and Victor Vran on the Switch.
Deep in the bowels of Tobacco Dock, Wired Productions had a room dedicated to their EGX Rezzed 2018 wares and it was an impressive line-up indeed…
Ever since the Kickstarter campaign launched for GRIP, I’ve been excited to get my hands on it. It’s a game that wears its inspiration – the Rollcage games from the late 90’s – proudly on its chest but it’s a title that’s not short of innovation either. If you’re too young to remember Rollcage a) lucky you for being so young and b) it’s a high-octane racing game that allowed you to race on the floors, walls and ceilings on the track. GRIP takes this idea and injects modern day race track design, presents it in a sublime visual package (damn this game looks pretty at times) and packs it with retina detaching high-speed action. GRIP is obviously designed to be more accessible that its inspiration with a forgiving reaction to falling from the walls and ceiling, quickly righting you to keep your speed, meaning you’re never left in the dust by your adversaries.
As you bomb around the track, you can see those little design elements that you can utilise to get the jump on your opponents – a little extension of the roof of a tunnel with a boost pad here, a rounded wall to bank around there. Then there’s the meaty weaponry – the sound effect of your machine gun fire pinging off the back of the car ahead is sublime and there’s a little, enticing delay to the rocket fire after you launch it forward and it finds its target. GRIP is designed to be exciting and it’s exactly that. Already available in early access, GRIP launches in full in 2018 on PS4, PC and Xbox One (with 4K, 60fps on the One X) and I’m very much looking forward to blowing the rest of the FNGR GNS team off the track (don’t @ me. You know I will).
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn
The original Shaq Fu is a bit of an oddity. The internet hive mind seems to remember it in a negative light (despite the game getting a number of 8/10 review scores when it initially launched on the Mega Drive and SNES) and it has found its way on to a number of “Worst game ever” lists over the years, and let’s face it, it wasn’t great. When the sequel – Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn – was announced, there was a collective feeling of “but…why?” in my social bubble but it only takes 15 minutes with the new game, which ditches the 2D 1v1 fighter genre in favour of 3D beat-‘em-up game play, to understand the reason for the revival. A Legend Reborn absolutely embraces the absurdity of having Shaquille O’Neal in a game by filling it full of wise cracks and one liners that emphasise the qualities of the Man and had me grinning from ear to ear and laughing to myself (which is never a good look when you’re on a packed show floor) – an example: An early back and forth between Shaq and a blue monster thing had the basketball star shout out something along the lines of “Come over here and I’ll kick you with my size 22’s”.The monster was unfazed and replied with “I’m going to beat you down bigfoot” which Shaq masterfully bit back with “You’re about to get Sasquashed”. The first 20 minutes of the game is full of this quick witted banter the sets the scene for what I hope is going to turn out to be a really fun game.
Game Play wise, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn has more akin to Streets of Rage than the fighter premise of the original. Shaq has some pretty impressive high kicks and stomps which were satisfying to use and after each combat section ends, you’re treated to a slow-mo finisher. Visually, there’s a lot of depth to the landscape despite the demo being played entirely in the foreground of the screen.
On the basis of the first 20 minutes of the game, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn feels like an atonement that’s here to set the records straight. A Legend Reborn is almost entirely divorced from its predecessor in every single way and I think we can safely say that it won’t be turning up on any “worst of” lists but might be appearing on some “Funniest” lists by the end of the year.
Victor Vran on Nintendo Switch
“There’s been almost no optimisation done yet for the Switch port of Victor Vran” the Wired Productions rep told me as I picked up the Switch Pro Controller “They’ve managed to get it running. They’re going to work on getting it up to scratch next and if anyone can get it working well on the Switch, it’s these devs”. I won’t sugar coat it, the Switch port of this game is rough around the edges in its current state with low resolution visuals and some occasional and drastic frame rate drops – all of which can be improved before release I hasten to add. Beneath the current work in progress exterior however is one my all time favourite aRPG’s (I gave it a 9/10 when it launched on the PS4) and the game play was as nailed down as I remember it being. Everything felt very in key with the Nintendo Switch Pro controller too – dare I say it (HA! I knew you’d love it eventually – Ed) – feeling more natural to play than with my beloved Dualshock 4. With some optimisation over the coming months, Victor Vran and his Motorhead themed adventures will likely be snuffing out your social life when it finally hits the Switch this year.