PAX East Impressions: Clash of Heroes HD
It’s been one of our most anticipated titles for a long while, now, and I recently got a chance to play it. After one multiplayer battle against Capybara pres Nathan Vella I can honestly say the Clash of Heroes HD will be one of my favorite PSN titles of all time… ever. The game has been running into release hurdles for a few months now, but according to Nathan it will finally see the light of digital day come mid-April (just in time for my birthday).
Having never owned a DS, I didn’t get to play Clash of Heroes when it released a while back. Thus, I was completely new to the game when I made my way to the Ubisoft booth. As Nathan and I launched our first 1 vs. 1 game, he described a few things to me. First of all, this is a turn-based puzzle game. It plays a lot like Critter Crunch in that you pull and place units in order to make things happen which, in turn, make you win. You start each turn with 3 moves. Pulling and placing one unit takes up a move. Deleting a unit takes up a move and shifts all of the units behind said unit down (or up, depending on your view). Repopulating your grid with more units takes up a move. How to effectively use these moves is up to you. Placing three of the same units in a vertical column shifts the units up to the front of the line and poises them to attack. Bigger units take more turns to charge up their attacks. Placing three or more of the same units in a horizontal row transforms them into a wall and shifts them up to the front of your grid. The point of the game is to defeat the other player by sending attacks at his ‘life line’ (copyright me), a horizontal line connected to the character’s avatar. You start each match with 100 HP, and each attack does a certain amount of damage. There’s a ton of strategery going on here, as you can position units in front of incoming attacks, causing them to cushion the blow (and, in many cases, die doing so). The more walls you have on your grid, the less reinforcements you can call in. In addition to the standard units, which take up 1 space each, there are mega units, which take up more. These units need to be activated by placing smaller units of the same color behind them. For instance, I played using a dragon unit which takes up four spaces. In order to activate it, I had to pull and place four smaller units of the same color behind it in a square formation. After activating, the dragon took a few turns to power up, but when it attacked, it left a ton of devastation in its wake. That being said, I’ll remind you that the game puts a big emphasis on placing like-units and units of the same color together. That’s a major component in Critter Crunch, so anybody who’s played CC will find himself at home with CoH’s core mechanics.
What’s not to be forgotten about Clash of Heroes: HD is its lengthy campaign mode. From what I could glean, the campaign mode is a bit like Puzzle Quest’s, where you travel across worlds, complete quests, and match-3 battle everything that moves. From the screenshots it looks as if there will be varied battle types and different ways to conquer your foes. Playing through the campaign unlocks items and special units that can be used in multiplayer. Nathan mentioned that the game will support 2v2 offline and online multiplayer, but they haven’t released all of the info regarding these modes just yet. It seems as if there will be a few different ways to play the game co-operatively and competitively.
The game looks beautiful, by the way. The hand-drawn environments and character animations are insanely detailed and fluid. I can already tell that watching your giant ogre unit pump up his muscles in preparation of an explosive attack won’t get old anytime soon. I was getting hyped watching my antelope druid unit spin his wand around and blast some magic across the screen. One of my friends who was watching me play noted, “this looks like a game that Eric is going to be putting a LOT of time into.” Yes, Craig, it certainly does. I didn’t know what to expect of CoH:HD, and what I got was a game to fill the Puzzle Quest-shaped void in my soul and more. Slam Bolt Scrappers was the game that blew me away back at PAX Prime, but Clash of Heroes: HD takes the crown this time around. Best in show, hands down.
(Don’t fret, Slam Bolt, I still love you long time.)
If Critter Crunch and Puzzle Quest had sex on a chess board, I imagine the offspring would look like this: