Tuesday, August 24, 2010
PG at GC 2010: What I've Seen, What I'm Thinking
Update1: MOH added, how could I forget about it?
Okay, turned out that writing down my impressions from the games I saw sunday at GamesCom 2010 in Cologne is easier than first releasing all of the videos, so I’ll do this now. And who knows what would be lost with days and days passing.
First I have to say that KoelnMesse has a really big expo compound and that it is easy to lose orientation. I don’t want to start with Leipzig’s Games Convention was so much better, but their expo compound was much easier to navigate through and had more to do in the open air areas. Anyways, the airport charme of KoelnMesse didn’t stop me of seeing some of the nicest games to come along in the next months and so I’ll give you a quick feedback of what I’ve seen and played.
The first thing we ran into was the Bethesda booth and it was huge. Bethesda showed several games: Brink Multiplayer Hands On (weren’t there, but the game is awesome from what I’ve seen earlier), Fallout: New Vegas, Hunted: The Demon’s Forge and id Software’s brand new game Rage.
Fallout: New Vegas
But first things first: After standing in queues and getting several Fallout: New Vegas Shirts (I just love them) I could play a few minutes of Fallout: New Vegas. Fallout is a game you need lots (LOTS!) of time for and so I can’t really give you a great review of the game. I played a demo of the Xbox 360 version of the game and well, it looks like the Fallout 3, with which I fell in love. I’ve gotten a glimpse at the map via my pip boy and it seems that New Vegas is right in the middle of the map. Let’s say the map has the same size as the Capital Wasteland then the city of New Vegas is pretty huge. A third of the map, if I remember correctly. Under the circumstances that other people wanted to have a play as well, I decided it would be appropriate to start a massacre. Shooting works pretty much the same as in Fallout 3, beloved VATS is back, with the exception that it is now possible to get slow mo deaths even when not in VATS mode. You just need to land a critical hit which leads to death. After killing most of the gang members in this district of New Vegas (guess it was a red light district, because of the hookers) a message plopped up on screen: “You have ruined your reputation with this gang.” That’s New Vegas’ faction reputation system which I am very interested to find out how it plays out in the end. Reminds me a bit of Grand Theft Auto 2. I had only a few minutes with Fallout: New Vegas, but I instantly knew that I will love this game and play it for months. If you liked Fallout 3, this is a must buy for you, especially because it is developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the guys who created Fallout.
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge
After that I got the chance to play a full co-op level of Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. Until then I knew the game only from screenshots, which remembered me of Severance: Blade of Darkness (propably some of you know that 2001 PC game). But it’s more like a fantasy Gears of War, but then again this is not a proper description because the game sets the point more on melee fighting with swords. I played a barbarian and my buddy played an amazon. While we made our way through a mountain path region (the game has like Gears a linear path) we came across some evil summoned skeletons. Yeah, that’s right, finally a new game with skeletons to slay. Besides the sword or blade every character has magic spells and a cross bow. There were even a place with a flying emerald in the middle, once both warriors touched it, via button pressing, so you have to be okay with it, players changed characters. So I came in the favor of playing the amazon. She seemed to be a bit weaker with the sword, but faster with the bow than the barb. Graphicswise the game looked good, but when I remember right, there were some minor graphic faults, of which I am sure they’ll be polished away until release in early 2011. My impression was that Hunted: The Demon’s Forge will be a fun co-op trip, but since it is linear, I fear it’ll be another ten hour game. Definitely worth a rent for a weekend!
id Software had a presentation room for about 120 people in the Bethesda booth and were demoing their brand new IP, Rage. The demo was from QuakeCon, at least that was what the .exe was called the dev booted up. The presentation was pretty long, about 40 minutes, I think. Personally it went on my nerves that the presentation was bi-langual, in English and then translated to German… We were shown several areas from different points in play time. The demo started with a travel to the main town.
The first thing you notice when seeing Rage: Damn, it is beautiful. id Software’s new engine id Tech 5 is able to create graphics on a propably never before seen quality – Rage belongs definitely to the best looking games out there and yet to come. The environment resembles a desert wasteland, yet it looks more like Red Dead than Fallout, on the other hand we were shown a level called “City of the Dead” (because nobody who goes there survives) and it had a vista full of shattered skyscrapers fallen in each other – mindblowing stuff.
But back to the demo: After changing a few words with the local gang leader the dev walked through the rocks and sneaked to two bandits talking. One of them sat on a four wheeled vehicle, a quad. With some kind of boomerang weapon (breaks when it hits) he decapitated the first and shot the other. When riding the quad the perspective switches in third person view. The dev showed some of the higher level vehicles as well: There’ll be three types of vehicles – class 1, 2 and 3 vehicles. The quad is a class 1 vehicle – no armor, no weapons, but it drives. Class 2 vehicles have armor and some weapons like machine guns. Class 3 is kind of a rolling fortress complete with missile launcher and a high powered motorization. The dev (Jason was his name and he worked on Doom and Quake before, so practically on all of id’s brands) took the class 3 jeep and began the travel to Wellspring, the main town in the wasteland. Compared to the quad this thing was really fast. Bandits on vehicles attacked, but they stood no chance against the missiles and were sent to oblivion in an awesome looking explosion. Rage has an open world, but think more of it as a collection of valleys and corridors. A fully open plain like in Fallout 3 is nothing I saw during the time of the demonstration. Extremely polished environments which are chained together in tube like locations and always revisitable is my guess for the finished product, that will release in September 2011.
In the town of Wellspring you can interact with characters and take on quests and sidemissions. In the demo the dev entered the town for the first time and was asked by people “How are you looking?”. We were told that you have kind of a reputation and people will react different once you completed a few missions. People could come to you and congratulate. Sounded a bit like Red Dead Redemption to me, where you have a reputation system as well. In the town of Wellspring (there’ll be more towns, but this is obviously the biggest, the main hub) you can do mini games to win cash and take side missions as well. When wandering through the city suddenly the alarm bells rang. A local fireman (he sure looked like one) told that bandits have gotten in the well and threatened to poison the water supply. He gave a cross bow with electric bolts (the one you know from the E3 vids and that stage follows) and begged you to stop them. Of course the dev agreed and went down there. In the well the things you already know were demoed: Demolition RC and cross bow with electric bolts which lead to water and electrocution like in Bioshock. The shotgun is able to blow heads off and the overall gunplay seems very, very solid, as you would expect from the FPS inventors id Software.
I could go on and on with Rage since that demo was the longest I saw at GamesCom – ever. The City of the Dead had zombies crawling up from the earth and attacking, giant enemies and rocket launchers, for example. In another part of the game the dev used a spider robot with a mounted machine gun to clear out a room of bad guys with the British flag tattooed, that was cool. Rage does everything right and nothing wrong. I will definitely buy this game, as I am a core gamer and action fan, but it must be said, that Rage’s only weakness is its lack of innovation. Post apocalyptic scenarios were present in Borderlands and Fallout, vehicle combat as well in Borderlands, electrocution we know from Bioshock and the gunplay reminded me strongly of Doom III. It is cool and I don’t want to say anything bad about Rage, but my feeling is that if there won’t be any new gameplay mechanic, game reviewers will criticize the hell out of that weak point. But since the game has still a year to go and since it’s the first fresh brand for id since a decade I expect them to have still a card up in their sleeves.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Do you like cinematic gaming experiences like Uncharted 2? Have a love for tales of mankind after apocalypse like in Stephen King’s The Stand? Found combat fast and exciting like in God of War highly entertaining? You are a core gamer but with feelings, who romanced his Shepard in both Mass Effects? If you can answer most of these questions with yes, you really need to have a look at Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.
Enslaved plays in a world 150 years from now. Mankind created robots to win wars and when all wars were won the robots decided to turn against their masters. You play as Monkey, a lone wolf type with great strength and agility. When he got captured by the machines and awakes in a sky ship (have a look at the GamesCom Demo), he fights against the machines and meets Trip, a 19 year old girl on the search for her home village. Since she doesn’t trust him, she flees and Monkey climbs around on the outside of the ship only to reach her and lift off on top of the outside of her escape capsule only seconds before the air ship crashes into the remains of a bewildered and ruined New York City.
Sounds interesting and is: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is based on a Chinese legend and developed by Ninja Theory, creators of Heavenly Sword. The game is definitely inspired by the unbelievable cinematic style that was present in Uncharted 2. There is a great focus on storyline and how it is told. Monkey is mo capped by no one less then Andy Serkis (says nothing to you? Probably you know him better as Kong from King Kong or Gollum from Lord of The Rings). Facial animations in Enslaved are over the top, if I might say so. Impressed me very much.
Gameplay seems to be a variation of fighting, platforming and climbing. Animations are insanely good. What I found very cool was that when Monkey defeats a robotic enemy, it can happen that a slow mo effect takes the lead and a close up of the scene is showed with the robot’s upper half parting away while Monkey does a victory grunt. Very intense moment, stuck with me. The animations are very fine as well, so everything fits perfectly. Of course this game is linear and has no open world or RPG elements as far as I could see it. But seen as a cinematic game it does perfectly. Enslaved comes out in October 2010 and when thinking of it the fact that I won’t have a console available until February 2011 becomes torturous. So, yes, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West gets the confirmation from me that it’s a must have.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3
I love playing Street Fighter and so I couldn’t wait to finally try out Marvel Vs Capcom 3, especially after all the nice videos I’ve posted on Personal Gaming in the last weeks. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 was playable in the Microsoft Booth (Mature Area) and I had the luck to not even have to wait in line for an hour. All I did was to ask a nice woman of the Microsoft booth personal if there are any other games playable than Halo: Reach and when she mentioned MvC3 I shared my excitement for the title, in a charming way, of course. She got me through the queue and lead me directly to the Xbox 360 with the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 demo in it. She said she tried it, but didn’t like it really and I told her that it sure would be fun once you get into it. Getting into it was harder than I expected, as it turned out. As a regular player of Super Street Fighter IV I had that button mapping in mind. Turned out that MvC 3 has a completely different button mapping. You always have a team of three fighters and Right and Left Bumpers (R1 and L1 on PS3) are used for interaction with the other team members. Just tapping the button a single time executes an assist move while holding the button down changes the team member out. When changed out the character can regain health. A fact that really shocked me was that you can do super tricks just by pressing a single button (Left Trigger or L2) instead of accomplishing a combination of button pressings like in Super Street Fighter IV. After losing 5 matches against random other expo visitors which apparently most of them had never played Street Fighter before I realized that button mashing is a legit tactic in Marvel Vs Capcom 3. I found that a bit frustrating, but I guess since I haven’t really played Marvel Vs Capcom 2 and one guy told me it worked exactly like Tatsunoku Vs Capcom on the Wii.
So, yeah, I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t rule right from the start, because obviously all of my Street Fighter experience means nothing in this game. Anyway, I’ll get it and become good at it then. On a sidenote: The GamesCom build was not the actual version of the game, because characters confirmed back a while like the wolf from Okami (shame on me for having missed this game) weren’t playable.
I’ll have to admit, I’ve been a bit skeptical about this game right from the beginning. Looked too generic with it’s Halo like suit which the main character is wearing and the story seemed to be to usual crap that comes out of Japanese man’s brain (evil soviets in space, c’mon!). But Vanquish’s gameplay was better than I thought. It is high speed and I tried the demo several times and never managed to finish it, but it was fun. The action was very cool and I think it’s just a good action game. A demo is releasing the first of September on Xbox Live Market Place and Playstation Network and it would surprise me if it were another one than the one present at GamesCom. Try it out and tell me what you think. After all the game is from Shinji Mikami, creator of Resident Evil 1 and 4. And Platinum Games previou game was Bayonetta, which some gamers call the best action game of all times. So Vanquish is full of potential.
I played a bit of Fable III as well. As trailers showed, Albion has reached the age of industrialization and the world has gotten a steam punk look. With a mate I invaded a royal factory. Fighting and gunplay doesn’t seem to have changed from what I know of Fable II (Fallout 3 stopped me from finishing Fable II back then). After beating through all of the guards my companion and I fled through the harbor, but not without blowing a harbor crane up. So action is present in Fable III again. And a dog was present as well. You could interact with it positively or negatively,like in Fable II. Another scene I saw showed you playing the young king and his spouse. You could interact with the chef in the kitchen and tread him nice or frighten him. After that one of your ministers (kind of an advisors) told you to be way to nice for a king and so criticized your behavior. For Fans of the series Fable III will be a must have, personally for me it was pretty much the same as the second, just with a new look.
Shank is a sidescrolling cartoonish hack’n’slay action Jump’n’run. Kind of at least. It will come as portable game for the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network. Shank has the charme of a 90s action movie and has lots of brutality. You play as Shanks, a bad ass guy, and have to kill everybody in your way.
Shank is a platformer with jumping and running, but mainly it’s about taking out the bad guys. You not only have grenades, you also have a knife and even a chainsaw. With the X button you could do a standard attack with your knife and with Y you executed a harder attack involving the chainsaw. Yes, it’s true, Shank has always a chainsaw in his pocket. When coming close to an enemy you can press the Right Trigger (R2 on PS) and hold your enemy. Now you have different options: Knife the guy, chainsaw him, shoot him in the head or just throw him away.
While playing through the demo, the level changed to dark and Shank was only seen as a silhouette, a black shadow. Great was that when you fired your pistols or threw a grenade, some light was shed, which made a very stylish effect of seeing your character again. At the end of the demo you had to fight a guy called the butcher, which had 4 times the size of you. Since the battle was fought in a cage and the butcher was kind of a stupid nut, the trick was to wait for him running against the bars. While he stood there numb and dizzy you could jump on his back and chainsaw his head. Repeat that four times and his head rolled on the floor. End of the demo.
In my opinion Shank is a nice addition for the Xbox Live Marketplace and it surely is worth 800 MS points. Not 1200 but 800. Also I like the comic style.
Yep, I often said that I am not a big Halo fan, but I took myself the liberty to play some Halo: Reach at the Microsoft booth. And what can I say? First: The graphics really look good this time. Not amazing, but finally good. Playable was the fire fight mode, a kind of co-operatively played horde mode. Like the one that was introduced in Halo: ODST. So I fought with a bunch of other expo visitors against the… covenant. Yeah, they are called covenant, I think. It was fun, especially since I played one of the new cool dudes with the rocket pack you can fly with. But then again I felt it was just more of the usual Halo: Guns that feel like playmobil and funny colourful enemies. Propably just too friendly for me, so friendly that I find the Halo mythology a little unbelievable in the sense of the word. But I don’t want to ruin the holy grave of Xbots, the 360 fanboys. Well, Halo Reach is in no way bad. It’s the next Halo and that’s what it feels like playing Reach: Just another Halo. On the other hand I want to and I will at some point in time play through all of the campaigns of the Halo games on 360. I’ve heard the campaigns are quite nice. But in aspect of multiplayer you can count me out, that’s just not my thing.
Medal of Honor
Now it comes to my mind again: I played a multiplayer round of EA's reborn Medal of Honor series. The new Medal of Honor game plays in Afghanistan and because of that, it's already controversially discussed. I see both sides, pro and con, but in the end it stays a game and I highly doubt anyone will convert to Islam because he played a Taliban soldier in a Medal of Honor online match.
And online match that's what the demo was about. It was a multiplayer match with two teams fighting against each other in a snowy mountain region. You had to take certain points in the match. I got shot so many times and I didn't know either from whom or from where. Happens to me everytime I try to play a game like that online. FPS games are way too hectic for me and I don't like losing against a 13 year old boy in the midst of his puberty and so I just don't play these games online. Medal of Honor reminded me strongly of Modern Warfare 1 and 2, but I guess most of you who are playing these titles on a regular basis will feel different.
I want to play the single player campaign, but for the multiplayer you can count me out.
I will cut this here since I am a bit sleepy right now and I am not sure about how many more games I have played and still have to report on. A few names come up to my memory like Sonic The Hedgehog 4 (awesome, as fan of the Mega Drive Sonics I instantly loved this game), Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light or the smilie man game. And I played Mafia II, but that was useless because it was only the demo, which is available since two weeks or what on the market place. I will probably edit this post.