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Zeno Clash II E3 Preview (PSN)

June 13, 2012 Written by Nick Michetti

First-person shooters may be the dominant presence in first-person gaming these days, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the only kind of FP games left. Take, for instance, Ace Team’s first-person brawler and follow-up to the original Zeno Clash, Zeno Clash II. Zeno Clash II may be a download-only title, but that hasn’t stopped the team from offering a number of significant upgrades over its predecessor. Based on their description of the game during an eyes-on session at E3, ZCII seems like it’ll meet that goal and offer fans of the first game an even better experience.

Zeno Clash II‘s biggest standout feature is its unique gameplay and Ace Team’s included some upgrades to make it even better. The game has revamped combat mechanics, including a lock-on that has a “depth blur” system, where the enemy comes into focus and everything behind it blurs out, with flexibility to change from enemy to enemy. The lock-on will bring up white circles with reticules that will grant the player as a high impact punch if he makes contact with them. The player will then be granted a free power shot after the enemy is dazed. The game also has precision punching, where if the enemy is punched by the player with the correct hand in an area where he can’t defend with a particular guard, the physics of the punch will go through and the enemy could be punched in the face.

Stats also now play a role in punch mechanics — if the player has high strength and the enemy has a low block, the player’s punch will still go through and inflict partial damage if the enemy blocks the attack. Stats aren’t just used for punches, though, as they can be invested in and used to build up a better character. Stats that can be invested in include strength, stamina, use of weapons, and leadership (how many followers can be brought along with the player, see below). Stats are built up via XP, which is earned by completing quests. Players will complete quests in the game’s new open world, which has replaced the “arena”-like areas from the previous game, and is ten times bigger than the previous game’s world.

The game won’t ask players to travel all of the way through the game, alone, though, as they can gain followers. Followers can be gained by helping characters in the world and when an important fight comes along, players will be given the option to summon a follower at that time. Larger scale brawls in the game will require the player to have recruited allies available to help him or her win the fight. Speaking of not going it alone, the game has online co-op support, too.

Zeno Clash II, from its unique and bizarre art style (think like a mutated Fable, but different) to its growth into an open-world first-person brawler, will certainly be a title that gamers who are on the lookout for unorthodox game experiences should keep an eye on. Few titles can claim to be as original as Zeno Clash II appears to be and the game definitely has sleeper hit potential. Zeno Clash II will be punching its way to PSN, XBLA, and Steam sometime in early 2013.