The Gathering 2008 – Part 2
Our next game was a title that after I read it was on the line-up I was as giddy as a little kid in a sweet shop; before a swarm of zombies burst out from behind the counter and chew at your neck, yes you guest it, I am talking about Left 4 Dead. You could tell all of my group was excited to play this one as before Chet Faliszek from Valve could introduce the game to us we were already sitting down in front of the screens, pads in hand, ready to start. The game lived up to all my expectations, and then some. It really is a co-op game and really shouldn’t be played in single player. We’ll have our review out on this game very soon.
With our 40 minutes over we were dragged away form being slaughtered by witches into yet another room lit with red lights. Do I hear the cry of more brains?! Oh yes!, this time we were with Capcom and a Tokyo Game Show build of Resident Evil 5. After a brief intro we all jumped in to the two available levels in the build. Sadly coming from the intensity of Left 4 Dead, with its swarming 28 Days Later style zombies, I found playing RE5 a little slow, almost as if it was in slow motion. The zombies shuffled and stumbled their way towards you climbing over fences and gates that where in their way, all but slowly mind you. Crazy enough, this build didn’t have the ability to flip the vertical axis, which everyone in the room was crying out for, but we all beard with it. Ben Lerougetel from Capcom was at hand answering any questions we had. Bubbling zombies aside everything ran fairly smooth and played pretty well. If we played RE5 first before Left 4 Dead I would have probably been more impressed, but the taste of brains in this game was a little sour.
Our final game venue of the day was left with Halo Wars. Dan Cornelius from Microsoft Game Studios sat down in front of some fairly large LCD screens we all played another Tokyo Game Show build of the game. First impressions were positive, controls were stripped all the way down and built from the ground up to be used with a console pad. This meant things were kept simple enough to control while organizing your troops was a breeze. Graphically the game carried the same rich detail found in most real-time strategy game today, all featuring beautifully rendered little warthogs and ships, making this Halo world very realistic. Sadly the realism stopped with the computer AI, which was far from challenging. It was a little too easy and I hope this was only the first mission or two and that the AI was still in development.
So that was the end of our activities, but it was not the end of the day, oh no. Remember Streetfighter IV? Well after dumping a mountain of game swag that I collected throughout the day I made my way to the Streetfighter IV demo pods. The pod with the Hori sticks was already in use (damn it!) so I sat down with Rob from MS Xbox World, picked up the green pads and we both got stuck in. The build we were playing had most of the characters that we knew about already playable. Either way, this didn’t matter me as Ryu is all I need. The gameplay is just like previous Streetfighters, non of that 3D fighter animation lag or pauses you get in Tekken and Virtual Fighter. Although the game uses 3D rendered characters and backgrounds the 2D gameplay of old remains, this is something I am glad they have kept and have not gone down the same route as all the other fighters today. Gameplay was fast and fluid, while pulling off your favourite moves was a doddle. A new feature to SFIV is Focus Attacks, where your fighter can absorb an attack and launch a counter attack, this makes you keep an eye on your oponant more incase they pull off any counter moves. Overall the game plays and feels like SF2 Turbo, which isn’t a bad thing at all in my book. February 2009 couldn’t come fast enough.
Other games I managed to play were: Shaun White Snowboarding, which is the next best thing since Amped. Ninja Blade, which felt like a cinematic Ninja Gaiden, and the day ended with yours truly making a fool of himself on You’re In The Movies, an Xbox Vision Camera driven game that puts you literally in the movies, look out for my review on this one in the coming days.
The evening wrapped up with Xbox Roxx Night! Opened by Jimi Spandexx and The Spandettes, the Xbox Roxx Night was an evening that saw us all dress up in silly hats, pantomime masks, feather scarfs and lace gloves. Each of us took to the stage in an attempt to win over the crowd with our performances on Guitar Hero World Tour and LIPS. The beer flowed freely that evening and everyone managed to loose their inhibitions in order to put on a great evening of band performances throughout the night.
Once again the XCN team did themselves proud this year. Everyone came away with not only sore singing throats but also a good two days of seeing some great titles on the Xbox 360. Same again next year folks!