New York Comic-Con 2012
The X Button at the New York Comic-Con: Friday, October 12

by Todd Ciolek,

Street Fighter helmsman Yoshinori Ono's panels usually aren't over until someone interrupts them. So it felt perfectly natural when the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Panel at the New York Comic Con was halted by Ono himself, who shouted from the back of the room and strode toward the panel in a Chun-Li outfit.

Ono had an announcement long awaited by fans of Capcom fighters. At past Comic Cons in both New York and San Diego, Ono has tantalized crowds with the phrase “Darkstalkers are not dead” and asked them to wave cash in the air to show their support for the long-dormant fighting series. Ono had more than teases this time, as his “Darkstalkers are not dead” presentation segued into apparently new CG rendered footage of Darkstalkers characters Lord Raptor and Dimitri in their ghoulish native environments.

Then came the second surprise: Darkstalkers Resurrection, a compilation of the second and third Darkstalkers titles, is headed to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live next year. The collection presents Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3 (or Vampire Hunter and Vampire Savior, for those of you who followed the series through Japanese imports), offering several different HD upscalings, an arcade-cabinet viewpoint, various challenges, and GGPO-based netcode that's “better than Marvel vs. Capcom Origins,” according to Capcom's Derek Neal. Offering both Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3 together may seem strange, but any series fan knows that the two feature rather different approaches for fighting games. Most obvious is the method of tracking matches: Night Warriors uses traditional rounds, while Darkstalkers 3 refills characters' life meters when they're defeated, without any clear break in battle. It's not unlike Killer Instinct, but...well, Darkstalkers 3 is a much better game.

“The community has a big divide in what game they prefer,” Neal stated.

Most important was Ono's promise that Darkstalkers Resurrection is “the first step” in an effort to bring back Darkstalkers in full, possibly with a revival akin to Street Fighter IV. Any fan who wants that will have an easy way to show support when Resurrection arrives next year.

Street Fighter still took up a good amount of the panel, though most the news had been previously announced at the San Diego Comic Con. However, Capcom's Matt Dahlgren updated the audience on the ongoing Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Tournament, adding that the grand finals on December 8 will now include the winners of Japan's major tournament.

Dahlgren also introduced a new balance patch for Street Fighter X Tekken. The patch's key improvement may be slowing the recovery time for players' life meters, thus reducing the time-overs that end far too many matches (this was especially apparently in footage of Street Fighter X Tekken tournament finals; every fight ended in a time-out). Various characters are tweaked as well: for example, Juri's aerial heavy punch can chain into super arts, while Bob and Paul both walk faster. The biggest crowd reaction arose for a Cammy touch-up: her Hooligan Combo can now cancel into a Cannon Strike EX.

Darkstalkers Resurrection was playable on the convention floor shortly after the compilation was announced, and it seems to be an excellent port of the arcade games we (well, me at least) loved so much. Like Street Fighter III 3rd Strike Online Edition, Resurrection features a mode where various challenges pop up in the borders, but the game within that frame is straight-up Night Warriors or Darkstalkers 3. All of the games' goofy animations and smooth controls are intact, though the HD filter really doesn't add much to the already impressive look.

Those who came to know the games through the Saturn and PlayStation may find the character lineup a little lacking, though. Resurrection's version of Darkstalkers 3 is based on the original arcade version, according to the Capcom reps on duty. The Japanese version of Darkstalkers 3, known as Vampire Savior, went through several different editions, each of which added and removed a few characters. The Saturn and PlayStation ports of the game had every character from the series, but Resurrection apparently sticks with the original's lineup, as the game on the Comic-Con floor didn't have the hunter Donovan, the ancient robot Huitzil, or the demonic alien Pyron. Granted, they're all in Night Warriors. The only thing I'd really miss is Cecil, the adorable little ragamuffin who follows Huitzil around in Darkstalkers 3 and sobs when the Mayan mecha is defeated.

Square Enix's booth had Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, and the downloadable extras for Sleeping Dogs on hand, but what it noticeably didn't have was Final Fantasy. The convention caught Square Enix without any upcoming installments of the franchise; Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy Dimensions are out, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is too far off, and Final Fantasy Versus XIII is still hiding from the world. So it fell to the publisher's Western-made franchises, with Tomb Raider getting the most attention.

The Tomb Raider demo was limited in its scope, though it does a fair job of introducing players to the game's atmosphere. In a reboot of much of the Tomb Raider canon, young Lara Croft shipwrecks on a tropical isle, where she's forced to survive the elements and somehow build character. The demo guides Lara over canyons and introduces her to hunting as she stalks and strikes down deer, birds, and fluffy lil' bunnies. While she encounters no real enemies and only talks to other characters over the radio during the demo, players nonetheless get a sense of her struggle and just how various acts of sustenance raise her abilities. There's a definite Uncharted air about the whole demo (though we'll be fair and note that Uncharted took a bit from older Tomb Raiders), and the highlight is easily a scene of Lara climbing across the suspended wreckage of a prop-engine plane, which then falls to pieces all around her.

The demo showed little of the game's contentious scenes of Lara being captured and threatened, which provoked numerous debates about misogyny and rape culture after the game's E3 showing. The Comic-Con outing of Tomb Raider still plays it sexist, though; the viewpoint tilts down Lara's cleavage as she struggles to light fires or stave off hypothermia. There's also some downright odd imagery in the demo's concluding preview montage. Lara appears to be captured and hung from the ceiling, bound like a spider's prey, in a cave that mixes Silent Hill with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The demo may be all about survival, but there's clearly more to the final game.

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