Along with Megaman X Command Mission on the PS2 (I don’t know about GCN) is a playable demo of Megaman X8. I tried it, and I must say, it’s ex-o-lent.
Since there’s only one level playable in the demo, and I don’t know enough about the story or music to judge it, I’ll just talk briefly about the graphics, and a lot about the gameplay. Overall, the gameplay mechanics are a HUGE improvement over X7. So, what makes it better?
First of all, the speed. X7 was very slow, which worked for the 3D parts of the game, but not the parts that were in 2D perspective. In fact, the 2D parts of X7 were not only slow, but they were just damn ugly as well X8 is all 3D Graphics, played in 2D aspect. The speed of the game is intensely fast…or at least, if feels that way. It’s probly not any faster than the SNES ones, but the huge 3D sprites moving at that speed, just looks, well, fast.
Second of all, and this might seem insignificant, but it was the FIRST thign I checked: They made wall kicks useful again In X7, if you did a wall kick, you would shoot out, but after you flew outward, you’d lose all the speed. They soooo fixed that in this game. I’m pleased.
Minor note: In X7, everyone was automatically given the ability to air dash, and that remains present in X8. Also present in X7 was the auto lock on system, which was present cos of the 3D aspect. This was removed from the game.
As for specific character improvements, the gameplay has been balanced a lot. In X7, the Axl was pathetically stupid, Zero struggled a lot because he had no edge, and X was just so absurdly powerful that it was ridiculous.
X still has an absurdly strong, large charge shot, however, he really doesn’t have any neat tricks like Zero and Axl do, which I’ll get into later. Also, since there’s no auto lock-on in X8, X once again only fires forward.
Zero once again has the old 3 hit string, with the last hit rising upward, a la X6. His combo is pretty nice, as some of the hits reach behind him, and the saber is once again very powerful, to balance out the issue of range. He has a dash slash (in older games attacking during a dash would stop him on a dime.), which is pretty nice. His jump slash also has an incredibly wide range; it’s a half circle slash right in front of him, haha He still has the double jump…and did I mention, he’s FAST again? Zero has his edge back, buddy. Hell yeah.
Axl made the biggest improvement. In X7, he was pretty much there to keep X’s spot warm for him til you got him. He had no charge shot, his copy shot was absolutely useless, his glide couldn’t reach as far as X’s glide could, and the commando roll was very impractical in 3D, where you could just dash to the left or right. But! Axl is pretty fucking intense in this game. He plays a bit more like Bass does in Rockman and Forte: Axl has his glide, which is now activiated by pressing the jump button in air (So it’s USEFUL now! :P), and his commando roll (also now useful), which can be done by pressing down and dash simultaneously. He no longer has his copy shot (so it seems; I’m not sure what they’ll do with him), but he does have an attack edge that X doesn’t: Easy Rapid Fire, and the ability to aim The way Axl fires is different from X. Axl has a short warm up time before he begins to fire, and then, once he starts, he keeps firing as long as you hold the button down. If you shoot with him in mid air, he stays in the air, too! The only con is, he can no longer move while firing. Also, on aiming: Since there’s no auto lock-on system, X has to fire forward, but Axl can aim in any direction he wants, even down by his feet. This is especially useful for hitting smaller enemies, as Axl can jump up, and then fire downwards while in midair. Phew, they made him so much better.
With all those specific character changes in mind, the game is much more balanced. There are nice ways of dealing with things with every character, and in the demo level, every character has their particular place to shine.
Speaking of which, the use-two-characters-at-once deal still is used in the game; however, you can’t choose your characters. The level seems to have it scripted. For example, in the level demo, the characters available goes liek this:
X + Axl – Axl – Axl + Zero – Zero – Zero + X
So, you can’t really choose when you have a character, or who you use in a level, I imagine. This forces you to use every one, sort of. In one way, this kind of sucks to me because personally, I love trying to solo through the X games, and see how well I can do. On the other hand, I think most people will enjoy this, because you’re forced to get a little good with everyone, and since each character can actually hold their own this time around, it’s not a bad thing.
Also, there is a silly little thing they added to the game: Team attacks. This is kind of like Giga attacks. Basically, when fighting a boss or subboss, little crystals come down when you hit them, or the little flunkies. When you accumulate enough, you can press either R button, and your team mate will come down and do a special attack for a grippe of damage. I think this is kind of ridiculous cos it’s so strong, but on the other hand, it’s kidna hard to pull off. I think you have to be standing in a spot where you are very close to the enemy and can hit them with a normal attack from your position. This might sound easy enough, but I’ve cheesed a couple of times, and I wasn’t able to do it against the boss of the level…not that you really need to.
But, most importantly to me, is, this game appears to not rely on funky ass powerups, which I think seriously killed X6, and made X7 pretty damn subpar too. Gone were the days where you could beat X games with the absolute bare minimum. Well, it really looks like those days are back, but with enough innovation to make it not quite like a rehash of the same old crap.
My verdict: Mega Man X8 will almost certainly be a good game. It might even be one of the better ones in the series. I was thoroughly impressed.