Day 2 at E3 2010 and it was play day. After making a rough list in my head of what I wanted to play, from the titles I saw the previous day, my first port of call was the Ubisoft booth to check out their line-up of upcoming titles.
Ghost Recon Future
First up was Ghost Recon Future Soldier. After seeing the stage demo at Ubisoft’s media briefing I was intrigued how they would bring the Ghosts into the future. The demo shown to us was sadly not hands-on, but we were shown the ropes by a developer in a single mission. It seems stealth plays an important part in GRFS, or at least in the mission we were shown. Fibres in your suit enable this ability to go invisible to enemies not using thermal cameras, however you cannot go invisible indefinitely. If you shoot or your suits charge runs out you will become visible for all to see, so you have to make sure your suit doesn’t run out when you are right in the middle of a pack of on-looking enemies.
In our demo we were shown how things would work with multiple Recons, where each Recon would take down different enemies. What is exciting is that this can be done with 3 other Recons being controlled by your buddies over 4-player co-op. The game is looking great and the communication chatter of the enemies as well as your own troops created a great atmosphere in the game. Ghost Recon Future is certainly on the radar for me.
Next up was Driver. A title I have had my eye on since its announcement only a week or so ago. I am a huge fan of the original and it was great to be told by the Art Director of the game that the first Driver has been a huge influence in this 5th adaptation of the franchise. Some of the older characters return to the game, most of all your character, Tanner, who is also from the first game.
Handling of each car felt great, much like the original, with every one of the over 100 licensed cars you can control feeling a little different from each other. So heavier cars do feel more sluggish and slow, while sporty cars are more nippy and corner like they are glued to the ground.
We ended our session with some hands-on with the multiplayer, where you battle against other online opponents to get the most time inside the tailing lights of an AI driven marked car, with the first to fill their tail time winning the round. What spins this game on its head is that any player can ‘Shift’ to a nearby car. This means no more lagging behind; you can just ‘Shift’ from the rear of the pack to a nearby available car. This makes for a constantly changing line-up that kind of works quite well if I’m honest. The skill is down to not only maintaining your distance behind the marked vehicle but also selecting the right car whilst fending off any attacks and shunts from your opponents.
Personally I am not a fan on the direction Reflections are going with the story and its new ‘Shift’ gameplay. I was hoping for a more Transporter-like story and gameplay. But with that said, it is a unique element, and I’ll have to see how ‘Shift’ works with the story once the game releases. Driver is certainly one to keep your eye on.
Medal of Honor (Again)
In our quest to collect all four MOH patches during E3, sad I know, I had another hands-on multiplayer session with the game. Second time around felt a lot better. Being handled by Battlefield developers, DICE, everything felt and looked spot on. I did have a few instances of bugs though, such as randomly flying bodies in the air, through to being instantly killed after spawn for no reason.
Like Battlefield, the level we played in looked highly detailed with destructive environments, though in the little time I had I didn’t have the time to test if it was as destructive as Battlefields. Weapons had good weight to them with on screen GUI looking very similar if not a carbon copy of Battlefields. So all in all if you are as much as a Battlefield fan as I am it is worth getting on the upcoming multiplayer Beta, which launches to the masses next week.
Heading into the Bethesda booth, my first stop was to check out Brink, a title I have had my eyes on ever since I saw the first trailer. The game looked and played pretty well, the rush moves worked pretty well, similar to Assassin’s Creed where you just hold the left trigger down to jump, slide you way over obstacles. Missions objectives were selected with the press of the D-Pad, and arrows mid-screen showed you the direction to a com-link you had to hack into, to shield generators you had to destroy. With Brink, you could be playing in a Resistance or Security campaign to then have your AI opponents swapped for real-life human players also playing through their campaigns. This alone boggles my mind at the thought of how this all works, and it makes me really excited and hopefully that this really pulls off and that there will be enough of a community when the game releases that will make campaigns come to life with real-life opposition.
Weapon and character customisation is probably the best I’ve seen in a game, where the colouring of weapons and upgrades can be bought for each weapon, making each character and its load out look very different from each other. You can imagine with a clan of buddies, all themed the same, could make their presence known when battling against other online players from the other side.
Sadly my hopes were a little tarnished due to the terrible AI currently in the build I was playing. I questioned this and was reassured that it was still being worked on and that the game isn’t scheduled for release until spring next year. So I really hope this is seen to before the game is released next year.
Bethesda’s Dungeon Brawler was also on show. Grabbing an Xbox 360 controller I joined alongside one of its developers for a tour through the E3 demo. I played as both the warrior and the archer, both showed slightly different gameplay mechanics, where the warrior has a close combat melee approach compared to the archer’s ranged attacks and spells but is vulnerable to close combat attacks.
Both characters can be swapped at specific points in each level, so each player can experience each characters strengths and weaknesses. Graphically Hunted looked stunning, as did the sound. Controlling each character felt very responsive, with plenty of moves and attacks to choose from. The game’s AI felt ok and fairly simple to win over at times, however this was very early on in the demo, so later creatures, bosses and puzzles should prove more of a challenge to you and your co-op partner.
The last game on show at the Bethesda booth was Rage, with a demo play-through by the developers at iD. Some 20 years on, Rage is brand-new IP from the team at iD who brought you Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake. All three of these past franchises have leaded the way in the first-person shooter genre, and Rage will be another title from iD that raises the bar beyond heights that simply blows my mind, all running on Xbox 360 and at a promised 60fps on release.
Graphically, Rage reaches new heights for not just first-person shooters but any game genre under the sun; the graphics are just out of this world. This has been helped with a new technique that its developers iD have created, which allows texture artists to paint directly onto levels without the need to repeat textures. This allows the game to look so much richer than seen in other games, where objects and buildings are crafted in such a way that they look very natural, as if they have been built there for years. The sound has also had the same great treatment, with some funny and atmospheric sounds and voice acting. The voices of the stereotypical British tribe made me laugh, with their cockney accents, union jack tribe body art, DocMartin boots and punk-like Mohican hair cuts.
All in all Rage is one of my titles of E3 2010, we are still a long way off until its release in 2011 but with ground breaking visuals and classic typical iD gameplay, shooter fans have something very special to look forward to next year.
Gears of War 3 Multiplayer
Day 2 wrapped up with a celebrity (Ice-T being one celeb there) fuelled Gears of War 3 party at the Edison club in downtown LA. This would be my only chance to get hands-on with Gears of War 3, so I got as much time with what was on offer that evening.
New multiplayer Beast Mode was all that was on the menu. This is little like Horde mode but you play the beasties, killing waves of humans. Where as Horde is surviving for as long as you can, in Beast mode you get to use a number of different Lambent creatures to attack a set wave of humans. Points are awarded with each kill and completion, and depending on the number of points you have results in the types of Beasts you can ‘purchase’ to play with. As soon as your team runs out of points it is game over.
Beast mode was good fun and it was good to play through the many new creatures available in Gears of War 3. This mode will no doubt be a winner for Gears fans, and I hope the single player as well as the other multiplayer modes on offer, match the fun I had.
During party I managed to get hands-on with Fallout Vegas. Directed by the producer for the game, who used to work on BioShock at 2K Games, I was shown the ropes for Bethesda’s upcoming post apocalyptic action-RPG title. I’ve only very briefly played Fallout 3 so I had to be directed where to go and what to do, plus being in a club I couldn’t hear a thing!
Inside a local casino I played some Black Jack, Roulette and I won some more money on the Slot machines. The demo had luck maxed out so I won a fair bit, but it was a good example that these game types can be fully played in the game. Combat has had an overhaul, and for the better, as combat felt more solid than in the previous title. Other than that it felt like Fallout does and will no doubt please fans of the franchise.
Very short amount of time was had with the new upcoming Fable 3. Everything looked a lot more mature and less bulky and child-like. Visually, the game looked richer and other than that it all looked like Fable does. Sorry, there isn’t much more to say here Fable fans.
E3 2010 has been a whirlwind, with so many games to see and play. Sadly I didn’t get much time with any upcoming Arcade titles at the show, but I did make room for one that I have had my eyes on for some time, and that is Limbo.
Limbo is a very artsy game from Demark developers Playdead. You play a child that has been place in a spooky black and white platform game in search for his lost sister. The game is made up of many challenging puzzles and deadly traps, but overall its more if an experience than game. There is no number of levels in Limbo, it is all one level, with a series of checkpoints nearby for any sticky points you may encounter.The traps and creatures you encounter lead to some brutal death sequences, whether you get caught in a bear trap, impaled by a sharp pointy spider leg, drown in rising water or crushed by a rolling ball (with spikes on for good measure), throughout the level there are a ton of imaginative ways for your character to meet his demise.
The animation and artwork in Limbo has been beautifully crafted and I look upon its style in the same way I do with such games like ICO, Flower and Flow. It’s all very, erm, artsy, but it works really well. There are no numbers or health meters cluttering your screen, all you need to know is you are alive, one button to jump, one button to interact with and you have to keep going right in some form or another. There are many hurdles in your way, some you need to just jump over, some you have to avoid or dispose of in order to continue forward. That’s what makes Limbo a joy to play as well as experience. It was one of my games of E3 2010 for me, and I can’t wait to play this game when it releases very soon on Xbox LIVE.
Things I’m liking today
- Pacman Lanyards
- Free drinks at the bar
- Rapper Ice-T turning up at the Gears of War 3 party
- Bulletstorm Burgers with ‘Cock Sauce’
- Felicia Day talking about not having enough celeb status to jump the Nintendo queue.
- The surprise on developer’s faces when I ask them probing questions about development
- Rock Band 3 drums, now with Pro cymbals!