ExcitingCapitalisation: NeoTokyo

By Kieron Gillen on July 6th, 2009 at 8:25 pm.

'Don't look back, you can never look back'. Don Henley never understood mouselook.

It’s the big mod release of the moment, and it’s stylish enough to be worth a post. Running off the Source engine, NeoTokyo is a class-based team-orientated shooter with one eye staring longingly at their Ghost in the Shell box-set and the other at their Akira deluxe edition. Which makes you hope they’ve shelved it together, otherwise they’re going to be going all googly-eyed. You can download it from a mass of mirrors and you’ll find its incredibly elegantly done trailer beneath the cut.

Though to be critical a little here – it’s elegantly done, but it tells us jack all about the game other than “we have more idea of style than the majority of mainstream PC developers”. While that’s a great thing to do, you really should say why someone should care about the game more than its production values. It took me a far too many clicks around their site to actually find any actual features of the game (Class-based high-tech abilities like active camoflage and alternate vision, XP-system, squad-management systems), y’know?

So… let’s do their job for them. Who’s played it? What do you make of it?

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109 Comments »

  1. Fat Zombie says:

    I have. It’s rather good. It’s a round-based game, sort-of like Counter Strike.
    Slightly more tactical, though, I think. And pretty. I enjoyed it.

  2. Hunam says:

    It’s a bit like CS, but without the money system. It’s slower than most FPS and it has the CS style rounds with a single life in them. XP is awarded for capping the ghost (flag), killing dudes and staying alive, more XP you get the more weapons you get to choose from.

    It’s rather tactical, almost Rainbow Six tactical for a comparison of speed of gameplay.

  3. Dominic White says:

    It’s too much like CS. They took Ghost In The Shell (which is very much a non-dystopian near future cyberpunk setting) and used that as a framework for map design, but then used almost none of that in the actual gameplay.

    If they’d actually used the setting properly, players would be able to choose just how heavily augmented their characters are, gaining advantages, but balanced out vulnerabilities to hacking and EMP weapons in turn.

    And I know I totally would have played as a hard-boiled pure human cop with a big revolver.

  4. postmanX3 says:

    I am rather underwhelmed.

    The only gamemode right now is “Capture the Ghost”, essentially capture the flag with only one flag and a female naked robot torso instead of a flag.

    It’s awfully boring, as respawns happen only every round, a la Counter-Strike. Die, wait 5 minutes, die again. Perhaps it’s just my lack of skill, but it still doesn’t make for an exciting pace.

    The visions and abilities (or ability, as the camouflage is the only one there is) are boring and nothing new. Night vision is pretty much entirely useless, and the thermal vision is nothing new, nor is it much more useful than the night vision. It does let you see camouflaged enemies, but… Camouflage does jack-diddly. It’s easy to see camouflaged enemies even without thermal vision and it only lasts for a couple of seconds.

    There’s very little to distinguish the classes. They all use the same weapon pool (with a few restrictions for lighter classes), not to mention the level-up system means that it can be forever until you get a weapon that’s not just a submachine gun.

    In other words: It’s incredibly bland gameplay underlying some pretty art. Albeit, very, very, pretty art… but art can’t make a game fun.

    Now, if you’ll kindly excuse me, I’m going to go hide from the inevitable barrage of insults from the decidedly vocal fan base.

  5. DK says:

    Tell me there’s no bunnyhopping or endorsed engine exploits ala “wallhugging” (Dystopia) and I’m in.

  6. Wazzle says:

    It’s a decent game, I haven’t played it enough to really say much, but those who are getting it must know that it is a very slow-paced game. Not boringly slow, but slow in that you can’t even rush in in a Counter-Strike sense; rather, it’s beneficial to hang back and let the others die first to gauge the opposition.

    Also, I find it odd that on this website, there is no mention of the official RPS Neotokyo server I played on a couple days ago… unless that server is an imposter.

  7. eon says:

    I disagree with Hunam only because I think it shouldn’t be compared to CS. I’ve ben following the mod for about 4 1/2 years, and the final product is much more elegant, and requires much more finesse than than your everyday FPS. With the right team, you really become immersed in the gameplay, and I think that’s what really sets it apart from your mainstream PC shooter.

  8. postmanX3 says:

    Darn it, I forgot the “/” in the second ““. Now my comment is italic-tastic.

    Then again, italics are fun.

  9. Xercies says:

    You had me at “Ghost in the Shell”

  10. MAccoy says:

    i had a fun hour or two playing this game, to win you basicly had to sit down at the enemy camp and slaughter them when they come back with the robotic sexdoll…
    its not a bad game….but its not awesome…
    and it dont need to be.

  11. sbs says:

    still, ctf with no respawns? sounds bad

  12. Turin Turambar says:

    I am liking. And it’s good precisely because there is no respawns. It’s slow, tactical, with a controlled pace.

    It’s not really ctf, sbs. It’s more “take the objective, evacuate to the marked exit point”.

  13. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Fantastic mod. It’s like Counterstrike only much slower with some neat gadgest thrown in. It’s a ton more fun when you play on a server full of friends who all have voice chat, of course. For me it’s the right mix of slow, tactical action with cool future stuff. And it has style out the wazoo.

  14. Dead Fish says:

    It’s an extremely polished mod with a huge amount of content for an initial release. I was quickly reminded of why I didn’t like Counter Strike, though.

    This is not a game, that can be played for just 10 minutes on a public server. You are going to die over and over again and spend most of the time watching your teammates (or the ghost’s rack), at least if you suck at CS like me. :/

  15. S says:

    I don’t think I share postman’s hatred for it, but most of the criticisms are accurate. It’s slow, and the rounds are structured like CS, which makes the first hour about the least fun you’ve ever had in a game. It is definitely not CS, though; the combat pace is closer to Infiltration than anything else I can think of (speaking of which, Infiltration really deserves its own post some time; come on, Kieron). It’s slow and quiet with brief bursts of very fast action, and people tend to fall into bits.

    The special abilities are not well fleshed out. The cloak is more useful than postman says, but only just. It doesn’t last long enough to do much for sneaking about, but it’s nasty for getting around enemies to hit them when they’re expecting it.

    The vision modes are useful for two of the classes, but the scout’s is awful. As it is, people don’t even use the recon much because the stuff that should balance it out hasn’t really been put into the game, and being able to block bullets with your face is more useful than cloaking for an extra five seconds.

    The weapon pool isn’t all the same, but it does mostly overlap. I’m surprised at how little the whole thing bothered me, as I fucking hated CS, but the game is close enough to realistic lethality that the differences between weapons are noticeable but far from insurmountable. Tactics and teamwork matter much more, and that’s where the gameplay really shines. The ghost lets you see enemy locations, and the carrier can relay those by voice to teammates. When the game is working (it often doesn’t, especially since the playerbase is entirely new), it really does have its moments.

    I think the best thing about it, though, is the atmosphere. It’s much more Ghost in the Shell(: Stand Alone Complex) than it is Akira, and they get the tone of the stealth combat in that very, very right. The art design is pretty good (the models are a bit rough, but mostly well done; the maps are frequently beautiful), and aesthetic experience left quite an impression on me.

    It’s far from perfect, but I was really impressed by some of the stuff it does, and hopefully it’ll develop (first release and all). Probably not the seething fanboy you were looking for, postman.

  16. S says:

    Hm. My link didn’t work. Infiltration is at http://infiltration.sentrystudios.net/ , and it’s probably worth a look for anyone interested in a ten year old UT mod with more realistic weapons handling than any other game has ever had. Even Cliffy B loved it.

  17. Aubrey says:

    The characters and gameplay are as not as GITS flavored as I would have liked, but on some maps, rushing with your super jump and stealth camo so that you can backstab half of the enemy team, in what is a very slow and tactical game, is really amazingly fun.

  18. sideshow says:

    its no good. the team is comprised of a bunch of 30-somethings that think they’ve got a new stylish take on what is essentially sloooow counterstrike. the fact that it takes place in neo-tokyo has done little to shape the actual gameplay, its just derivative shooter stuff. also its been in development for like 6-7 years.

  19. linfosoma says:

    I was really hyped about this game, been for a long time.
    But I was really disappointed by it really. If feels just like Counter Strike but with slower movement and each unit takes a full magazine to go down.
    Not really my style.

  20. Krondonian says:

    It’s a very good mod: the animation, art, vision modes, and mapping are all incredible considering it’s the first release of the mod (the UK2004 version aside). The long development time really shows what can be done with a mod team.

    Having said that, I’ve never played Counterstrike, and the only thing I can compare it to is TF2′s Arena mode. I appreciate that it is what it’s accomplished what it aimed for, but I’m not a fan of the tactical style.

    A couple of notes; the RPS Server was just the usual TF2 one switched over for a bit (not sure if it still is?) which I played on. I decided if I can’t have fun on the RPS server I’m not going to at all.

    The trailer posted up there was done by the same guy who did the incredible Black Mesa ones, plus Zombie Panic Source. All can be found

  21. Krondonian says:

    The videos are here. (http://www.youtube.com/user/monkeyjunkie160) I fail at supersimple html stuff :(.

  22. suibhne says:

    @Dominic White: Togusa or Deckard?

  23. Dominic White says:

    @suibhne – Does it matter? It’s win/win either way.

  24. JohnArr says:

    This was fun on UT2004, is it the same people?

  25. Chaz says:

    Blimey I thought this was another one of those mods that’d frizzled away and died. Shame it’s essentially turned out to be just another CS clone really.

    So when’s that Black Mesa mod coming out then? That’s been in development for just about as long as I can remember.

  26. TariqOne says:

    Played a lot of it.

    I’m super bad at it, but it’s well done. The maps are largely fun and the details are terrific. The game itself plays like a source multiplayer fps. Which is what it is. The weapons are well done and the gameplay is deliberate and technical. Which again, means I get killed a lot doing my whole run-forward-blindly thing.

    IMO, it has some rough spots, grenades are stupidly overpowered, as they often are in these things, and getting shot even once is very often a very bad thing. OTOH, a friend who plays recon (the light, fast class) has complained that unloading a smg clip into a support (heavy armor, slow) player’s face often doesn’t do the job. So YMMV. But I like it.

  27. Krondonian says:

    @JohnArr: Yes, the main folk anyway.
    @Chaz: Late 2009, apparently. I’m not holding my breath though.

  28. OutOfExile says:

    I really like it, just takes some getting used to.

  29. Dodomaster says:

    I love it too, but only when your team doesn’t suck.

    I like how they implemented the squad system.
    The different visions are well done, motion vision for assault makes it easy to spot attackers but not snipers, thermal vision is a good allrounder but can’t see cloaked enemies(I think a lot of people don’t realise this (thermal camo)), the night vision is only usefull is some maps but not worth it.
    However people who play the recon class seem to make good use of the detpack(c4) which can kill pretty easy.

    Overall I think it’s fairly balanced and fun to play, but then again, it’s not for everyone.

    I would’ve liked some stats on the weapons though.

  30. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I lost interest in this mod when it was on UT2004.

  31. EyeMessiah says:

    It didn’t do much for me, but then I’m not really into CS-style multiplayer shooters. Some of the art in the game is gorgeous. The menu screen is very much to my liking, as is the music. The levels are strewn with familiar objects, and I died quite a few times after pausing for a moment to stare at some prop thinking – “Hey isn’t that the XXXX from XXXX? Cool!”.

    Some of the mecha-ish models are so nice that its painfully tragic that you can’t interact with them!

    Sadly the character models aren’t great looking, and the animation is really pretty stiff – even in the gorgeous trailer.

    Gameplay is slow & tac shooterish, but protecting the ghost carrier while they call out the enemy locations using the ghosts uplink ability was certainly fun for a while.

  32. Dracko says:

    Kieron, are you telling me you haven’t simply checked their website?

  33. Dracko says:

    I’m sorry you’re not good at the game, postman. That’s no reason to dismiss what it does well, which is a damn lot.

  34. Spacegirl says:

    Every1 keeps comparing it to CS. It really is not like CS at all except that it is round based. I suppose to ppl who do not like “realistic” weapons and sometimes long respawns, any game like that would just seem like CS. It has many crucial mechanics that CS does not have. Q/E Lean. A sprint that you cant fire during. Right-Click aim/crosshair like CoD. These three simple (and 100% unrevolutionary) things change the gameplay a lot from CS.

    Furthermore, The levels are nothing like CS levels, they are more complex and more like R6 or even CoD4 levels. This is for better or worse, because they do take quite some getting used to, whereas CS maps are basically figured out after 2 rounds.

    It also very nearly requires voice communication. The “flag” thing, when picked up, allows you to see enemy positions (up to 40m) BUT the enemy can see where you are from anywhere. Picking up the flag and not using your mic is pretty much a death sentence.

    I got it when it came out (Friday the 3rd), and was playing it and enjoying it somewhat. Things really came to a head when I played on a server where every1 was talking and coordinating. The whole game really clicked for me and I enjoy it quite a bit now. I can definitely seeing myself playing it at least for another month or two (far more than many games), and then it will be up to the community and devs surrounding the game to keep things going (as is always the case.)

    Long post short, if you like tactical fps games this is a very VERY good one. It has numerous small issues, but for a first release mod it’s pretty much an A+.

  35. billyboob says:

    I like the pacing. I think there is a lot more under the surface then first appears. Look out for me on the Oz servers (I’ll be the one taking you down from a dark corner)

    Oh and remember if you grab the ghost – UPLINK ftw!

  36. Wurzel says:

    Wow, I remember this being mentioned as a promising mod in PCGamer *just* after HL2 came out, and have heard nothing abut it since. Still, glad to hear it’s finally done, and it looks awesome polished.

    Kinda makes you worry about how slowly mods are made these days though.

  37. Paul_M says:

    @suibhne

    Well, it wouldn’t be Deckard cus he’s a replicant. Hard boiled though he is pure-human he ain’t :)

  38. Flappybat says:

    For a mod the basics are suprisingly well done even though it clearly wasn’t tested anywhere near enough. There’s real potential for a gem to come out of this in six months if the team can keep going.

    Hopefully they can deal with the hard decisions of realising that the teams are visually too similar and a few i

  39. Wisq says:

    The video just screamed “CS with a different backdrop” to me, so it’s interesting to see everyone saying so. Maybe it was how they seem permanently hunched over their weapons, hyper-focused on the gunsights while they shuffle everywhere at high speed.

    I actually got quite used to round-style teamplay back in the Action Half-Life days, and for a while afterward, team deathmatch with respawning felt really awkward and artificial, like there was no penalty for dying or something.

    Then again, AHL had quick, epic rounds where you could really cheer on your surviving players, and where a single player against an entire team could actually work with skill and a little luck — or at least go out shooting and have fun doing it. That was in large part because you were firing real-world weapons at completely unarmoured targets with reasonably realistic effects, i.e. near-certain death for whoever doesn’t shoot first.

    Also, the lack of any indicator to living players that your teammates were dead made for a lot of suspense, teamwork, and the occasional radio call just to see if anyone else is alive.

    I gave CS a chance but it never really clicked with me, and I somehow found it actively un-fun — which always struck me as rather odd, considering its mass popularity. As such, I’m instantly wary of any game that walks and talks like CS, even if it touches on things I like, such as cyberpunk, etc.

    Speaking of which … I find it interesting that cyborg games never seem to approach cyborg augmentations in the internal, invisible sense these days. Think Denton (versus Gunther) in Deus Ex, or Molly from Neuromancer, or the protagonist in System Shock — or (in most cases) the Major in Ghost in the Shell (versus Neotokyo’s generic grunts with armour and attachments). I guess sci-fi games want the external augs to make their own iconic look, but invisible (yet powerful) mods that let you pass for an everyday person always seemed both more technologically advanced and more empowering than looking like a metal version of the Hulk — in the same way that an ordinary-looking child that can throw cars with his/her mind is scarier than Gordon Freeman with a gravity gun.

    Though I guess Prototype comes close, even if it’s not cyber (or punk).

  40. Serondal says:

    I played this before when it first came out a long time ago. why are people acting like this is new? I didn’t really care for it back then but I will give it a chance :P Back when I played it it was super alpha so maybe it has come a long way?

  41. Serondal says:

    @Wisq – I believe there is a mod like that called Dysptoia or something like that. You can get augs and as far as I could see none of them showed up on your character’s body. There were heavier classes that wore more armor but that is just a logical extension. If tiny inplants inside your body are powerful imagine how powerful giant implants all over your body could be with the same level of technology?

  42. SOVIET says:

    It looks gorgeous and the map design/layouts are pretty interesting. The rounds are worthwhile when a team mate has the ghost and is plotting a route to the extraction zone via mic otherwise it gets frustrating fast as you can’t really suceed solo.

    Soundtrack is lovely too

  43. SOVIET says:

    Oh and there’s a .pdf manual as well as a page full of the in-game hints that appear at the start of each round

  44. Greg Wild says:

    Stylistically, it’s great.

    But the problem? This is the only really noteworthy aspect of the game itself; it doesn’t use this strength for anything more than eye candy. Essentially the mod is pretty much CS with an inferior weapons system and cloaking. There’s no real impression that they’re using the setting for anything more than some (admittedly excellent) level design.

  45. MrBejeebus says:

    Wisq you should look up the mod Dystopia then, its on steam

  46. Wisq says:

    @Serondal: Yeah, played Dystopia, liked it well enough. And I do like the heavy-medium-light balance, with each class being pretty much as mobile as you would expect.

    It still fits in the “external” category for me, obviously, but it’s somewhat more justified than most games, given the sorts of crazy stuff those augmentations let you do. Dystopia lets you make huge leaps, turn invisible, etc., but most games these days just seem to use your cyborg-isation as an excuse for why you take a ton of damage to kill, heal it all in seconds, and hear voices in your head.

    I suppose it only makes sense to make everyone an anonymous grunt in a (non-massively) multiplayer game, or for bulk enemies in a singleplayer game, since seeing the same face over and over breaks immersion. But for the SP games, I guess I just wish there were more Dentons and fewer Halo marines in today’s games.

  47. DK says:

    “Wisq you should look up the mod Dystopia then, its on steam”
    Unless you dislike being severely underpowered if you play it like a proper game instead of a mod by not doing stupid things like “running faster when you’re running at an angle into a wall”.

  48. Serondal says:

    I think the light class in Dystopia doesn’t have any extra augments, most of them are internal things like replacing eye balls to see ivisible people or somehing I don’t remember :P

    Treat youself and play some Shadowrun ;)

  49. Serondal says:

    er, extrenal ! sorry. I’m just saying in a world that has internal aguments that make you cyborg why would it not also have external ones ? It is only logical that you get what you pay for. If you want something that lets you jump to the roof of a 3 story building from the street it is porbably going to take a visible augment or some extreme surgery to replace your entire legs with some high tech muscles/bones/skin that can take that kind of stress.

  50. Wisq says:

    @DK: Ah, that’s what you meant by wall-hugging. I had forgotten about that. Yeah, that was a rather stupid decision on the devs’ part. It feels like a developer rebranding an obvious bug as a feature because they’re too damn lazy to care.

    On a completely different note, I’ve started wondering — will we ever see a game where walking is (transparently) based on actually manipulating a character’s skeleton, putting the lead foot down and using it as an anchor to pull the body, rather than just slewing the character around and playing a running animation? Where obstacles and balance are handled naturally, walls are just something that stops your foot from going forward, etc.

    I imagine the drawbacks (glitches, computational power) far outweigh the benefits (looks great, feels natural?) given today’s technology and engine sophistication, except in certain (very niche) situations. But I just wonder if it’ll ever become worthwhile enough to become a standard in our never-ending push for more realism, at least as far as graphics and physics are concerned.