The Game Convention is now over for good, and it’s time for us to give you guys our impressions, about the event itself, and of course about the games. Needless to say these our personal feelings, about preview code most of the time so everything can still change until the game is released.
Sync: Personally I’ve spent most of my time in the Press Room during the GC, mostly battling against the terrible internet connection, so I’ve not seen as much private presentations as I wanted to. I’ve still been able to see Alone in the Dark 5 at Atari's booth, unfortunately it was the same presentation than E3, and even then it was using rather old code and videos so I doubt what I saw was a real indication of the qualities of the game. I sure hope so at least. The ideas are there, so hopefully the rest will follow.
I’ve also been invited to see the two big upcoming 2K Games releases, The Darkness and Bioshock, and I’ve been terribly impressed by both games. These two games sure will be some very important releases for both PS3 and 360, assuming Bioshock will one day finally announced for Sony’s console of course. The Darkness first. Forget everything you thought about the screenshots, this is a game you have to see in motion to understand what this is all about. The first part of the presentation was what was shown during E3, mostly a very fine way to show the various darkness powers. There are quite a few of them, all of them seem very useful in different situations and they certainly look cool when used. I especially enjoyed the summoning power, allowing the player to get a few monster sidekicks that are actually able to use tools and weapons. Seeing such a monster attack a cop with a sledgehammer raised quite a few laughs during the demonstration. The next part was brand new, and will actually be the very beginning of the game, even before the logos if the developers are allowed to do so. It’s on rail car chase sequence, complete with explosions and awesome vocap (motion capture but for the mouth). The interactions are obviously quite limited to mostly watching what’s going on, and a few gunshots in the end, but it’s a totally incredible sequence that will certainly stay in everybody’s mind for a long time. Bioshock also impressed me a lot, as expected from all the positive buzz the game generated last E3. With a very specific graphical style, and very deep gameplay Bioshock will without a doubt be one of the most important games released in 2007.
My next presentation was Viva Pinata, but I guess you already saw my video so I don’t think I need to comment any more. No comment on the Activision presentation either, for other reasons.
The convention itself was even bigger than last year, with all 5 enormous halls of the beautiful Leipziger Messe occupied. The first day was for the press and professionals only so it was very nice to be able to walk quickly from one booth to another without having to walk on a few toes. The next days were of course much more busy, but thankfully we spent most of our time in the press room and business center. The booth were still all very big and even with the crowd there was still a bit of breathing space. The Microsoft booth was especially nice, a nice evolution from last year’s.
There were a lot of people in all there manufacturers booth, even if neither the Wii nor the PS3 were playable. The portables consoles were the stars at both Sony’s and Nintendo’s booth, and of course the 360 was the center of Microsoft’s. We’ll have to wait until TGS to finally get our hands on a PS3 controller with final hardware, and hopefully there will be some Wii hardware for 3rd party developers.
The 360 was everywhere, as expected for the first next-gen hardware to be released. The good surprise for me was that it seems that the developers finally start to know how to use the 360 GPU, as the majority of the games were already quite smooth looking, a nice change from quite a lot of launch title. The Unreal Engine 3 titles especially seemed to have gotten a very nice FPS boost. A few games really surprised me: Crackdown is shaping up to be a very fun sandbox action game, F.E.A.R. looked excellent, very much like the PC version, NBA2k7 had an incredible animation for the players, and of course Lost Planet is as expected a great title, with both single player and multiplayer being beautiful, fun and interesting. Only a few games looked disappointing, especially Tony Hawk 8 running on a very obviously early build, full of bugs and slowdowns. It will most certainly be fixed for the release.
Let’s finish with the announcements. Or their lack should I say. Sony simply “forgot” to announce anything and even went as far as to show some old E3 2005 footage for some of their PS3 games, Nintendo had a few stuff to show, but nothing really important, and in the end Microsoft “won” by only announcing one, but very important thing: They will have a European exclusivity for both PES6 and FIFA07 on next-gen consoles for 12 months. This is a huge announcement for the European market, and it will certainly help sell quite a lot of consoles this winter.
TGS will be were Sony finally enters the next-gen battle. And a great battle it will be, with on one side Sony that has only a few weeks to reverse the rather negative impressions the PS3 left at E3, and Microsoft really needing some great great games to get the slightest chance to shine a bit. We’ll of course be there to get you guys as much videos as possible!
Snoopers: I really had a good time in Lepzig. In the end the experience was much better than E3. More games, less people, more time. The games themselves impressed me by their quality and polish, even for the earliest looking of the lot. The developers finally start to know their way around the 360 and it shows. But let’s talk about the games! Ubisoft is now the master of the blockbuster games, and had the most impressive portfolio of the convention. Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six Vegas, Assassin’s Creed and Brother in Arms 3, a dream lineup with only potential bestsellers titles, and all looking great graphically! Yves Guillemot can be really proud of his teams. I’ve really enjoyed Rainbow Six Vegas, reminding me of the best moments of GRAW but with a FPS view and more closed environments. It’s a very big change from the first episodes, but it still looks like a lot of fun.
There were also a lot of good things at Eidos. I won’t say more about Just Cause, since you now all know what this game will be like, but let’s talk more about Kane & Lynch, from the Danish developers of IO Interactive. From what I’ve seen, this game looks like a Michael Mann’s Freedom Fighters, with way more action than Hitman, an interesting scenario and an excellent directing. Graphically it already looks excellent, with the very recognizable IO art style and an excellent lighting and post processing. Definitely the game I liked the most in Leipzig.
Let finish with Turok from Buena Vista Games. I really did not expect anything good from this game so I’ve been really surprised by the graphical quality and the environments. So at first glance it’s a futuristic corridor FPS, but the ultra violence of a few scenes et the quite nice feeling of the weapons makes me hope for something much better than expected.
I could also have spoken more about the incredible NBA 2k7, Fuzion Frenzy 2, Elveon, F.E.A.R ., PES6, Tony Hawk and all the the other games available on the showfloor, but I’ve not played them enough to be able to write anything worth reading. All I can say is that I can’t wait for these games to be released so I finally get to play them more!