With the Friday liquid lunch and the obligatory Friday night curry out of the way, (without anyone talking to plants this year but plenty of heated arguments over the tea/dinner divide), it was time to return to the main event, so I made my way back to the show floor for the second day.
There were still lots of games I had yet to try out, so it would be another busy day ahead.
Warface : putting the WAR in FREEWARE
I find that at this precise moment FPS games are at saturation point for me, and without doing something new or innovative with the genre, they are doomed to just look better than their previous counterparts.
Unfortunately, this is how I went into my first game of the day, Warface. Developed by Crytek Kiev. The key selling point of Warface is its price…nothing.
Developed as a free to play constantly evolving Social FPS, Warface is hoping to pull in the key COD/BF demographic. Upon watching some of the graphics on this game, you would be surprised that it is free to play, as the textures and models rival those of upcoming titles such as Crysis 3 and Farcry 3, but this is no surprise given its utilisation of the CryEngine 3.
With a leaning more towards the realistic, the weapons in the game feel extremely powerful, with an accurate headshot able to take down enemies in one shot, and a well placed three round burst to centre mass is able to drop all but the most heavily armored players.
The multiplayer was fast and furious, and there is no doubt, that working as a team will get you distinctively further than going “lone wolf”.
Although I never got the chance to play it, Crytek have promised that the Player verses Environment co-op missions will be updated consistently with new missions, and new plot developments as you take to the streets to eradicate the Blackwood menace.
It remains to be seen if they can live up to this claim, and as a free to play game, where the developments fund will come from to finance this constantly evolving world.
Natural Selection 2 : Hybrid Evolution
Natural Selection 2, the highly anticipated sequel to 2002′s Half Life Mod, Natural Selection, is a subtle blend of FPS and RTS. Now using Unknown Worlds Entertainments own proprietary engine, SPARK, UWE have taken the steps to have NS2 recognised in its own right.
Continuing the focus on the war between the Kharaa and the Frontiersmen, the sequel is continuing to embrace what made the original mod so successful.
Playing as the Frontiersmen, one player is allocated use of the “command chair” thus placing them in an RTS view of the map, and allowing them to purchase upgrades, command troop movement and place building requests for the rest of the team to undertake.
In a change to the original, this time round the Kharaa also have a commander, but instead of purchasing upgrades and commanding troops, the alien commander can interact with the environment, moulding it to better suit the aliens battle style.
All of the other players, aliens included, navigate the play environment via First Person.
Each team must compete for control of resource points, which allow the Commander to drop ammo, and build his requested structures; where the captured resources allow the alien race’s builder class to create defensive, offensive or Sensory nodes. As the aliens resources are shared equally, thus allowing non builder classes to utilise those resources to evolve into new and more powerful species.
Watching this game played, showed how easily RTS and FPS can be combined, and the fast paced action was a joy to watch.
Distributing solely through Steam, this is one game I will be keeping a close eye on.
Tokyo Jungle : Answering the call of the wild
Tokyo Jungle had to be one of the strangest and most amusing games on the show floor this year.
Comprising of two modes, survival and Story, you are put in charge of an animal of your choice (limited though it is at the beginning) to survive and thrive in the remnants of a Tokyo absent of human presence. All manner of creatures now make their home in the streets and rooftops of Tokyo, from the humble pet dogs and cats, to the escaped chimpanzees, lions and tigers of the Tokyo Zoo.
Playing through in Survival, it is your role to hunt, eat and capture territory, to allow you to find a mate and produce the next generation who will continue the cycle of exploration, hunting and capturing.
Throughout the levels you will find audio logs, which gradually unlock the story mode which will reveal how and why humankind disappeared. In this mode you are placed in a set role to find out the events behind the strange occurrences.
The controls for this game are remarkably simple with attack and dodge abilities which drains your stamina, basic stealth mechanics which allow you to go for that critical attack on those animals normally to big for you to take down, and a basic hunger/life bar for you to maintain.
As you capture areas, suitable mates will be drawn to your territory, and your hunting skill level, (rookie/veteran/boss), determines the mates that will accept your advances. The higher the level of mate, the more genetic bonuses that are passed from your generation to the next.
With leaderboards for the survival mode, there is always that push for one more try.
This is a fantastic PSN title, that I would recommend to anyone who wants something that dares to try something new.
Need For Speed – Most Wanted : New Paradise
It has long been accepted in my mind that the masters of Arcade racers is the team behind the Burnout series, Criterion. Since 2010 they have been pouring their efforts into revitalising the Need For Speed franchise, with seminal success with Need For Speed Hot Pursuit which led to EA placing them at the forefront on the latest title in the series, Need for Speed – Most Wanted.
Taking place in Fairhaven City as opposed to Rockport from the original Most Wanted. Criterion have brought together the best of both IP’s to form what can only be described as the most expansive and fluid Need for Speed to date.
The single player campaign form is taken direct from its precursor, with players selecting one car and competing against other racers to reach a destination. Unlike its namesake, the path is not linear, and more like the Burnout series, you can select any route to the chequered flag.
Autolog makes a welcome return, but is joined with the CloudCompete system, which will allow you to utilise a single profile across multiple platforms. With releases set for Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita as well as iOS, you will be able to continue your career on the go, as well as at home.
Criterion have a knack of making games that remain playable far beyond their release, and I feel that this will be no exception. I foresee people returning to this title for a quick arcade blast and that, to Criterion’s credit, is what makes their reputation so outstanding.
Game of the Day
Aliens Colonial Marines : Another Glorious day in the Corps
Initially, I treated this with the same trepidation with which I approached Warface, because at the end of the day it was just another First Person Shooter. How wrong I was. What sets ACM apart is quite simply its pacing.
The guys and girls at Gearbox, have succeeded in introducing a feeling of claustrophobia and tension into the game that is evident in the multiplayer. Although the single player gameplay was not available on the show floor, the fact that the multiplayer readily displayed these features bodes well for the pace and feel of the main campaign.
So, lets discuss the multiplayer.
On the show floor, the set up had Sega’s QA team as the permanent Alien forces, allowing the visitors to play as the colonial marines. The big difference between ACM and AVP, is that Gearbox have opted for a third person view for the alien forces. This, combined with their maneuverability, allowed the aliens to be controlled with a sense of freedom and speed that could not have been accomplished using first person.
Climbing up walls, or through vents looked as easy as running along the ground when watching the QA team play, and attacks from above were a regular occurrence during the sessions.
Graphically the game looks amazing, although only two areas were shown, and it is no surprise since Gearbox enlisted Syd Mead, concept artist best known for Aliens, Blade Runner and Tron, as creative consultant to ensure the areas of the Sulaco and LV426 were as close to the original as possible.
Playing on the Expo floor, the only playable code was that of the standard team death-match, marines Vs Aliens.
So lets look at each side, focusing on the Marines first.
TDM plays like most other shooters for the marines, with you picking your loadout of primary and secondary weapons, (I found the shotgun really useful for those close encounters), and every character is equipped with a motion tracker. While this is accessed you cannot aim your weapon, so you have to be extremely cautious in its use, but the benefit of knowing where an attack is coming from outweighs this risk. Furthermore, randomly placed in the map is the M56 smart gun, as used by Vasquez and Drake in the movie. This weapon can be a real game changer, as it has auto-targeting, and will mow down numerous aliens in seconds. The drawback, is that with the smart gun equipped you can no longer access your motion tracker and must rely on the guns own smart tracking, and as such, you are easy pickings for any alien able to get to you from outside your fire arc. I was fortunate enough to pick up the smart gun twice during the play test, and it makes you feel very powerful, but at the same time extremely vulnerable.
Finding yourself alone in this game is effectively a death sentence. The reason is blatantly apparent when we look at the alien classes. Although not playable, I was fortunate enough to get 20 mins talking with one of the QA team to discuss the aliens, their classes and how they play.
Firstly, for the purposes of the demo, only two primary classes were available, the Alien Soldier and the Alien Lurker. Both Classes have a basic heat sensing ability, which will display all marines on the map at any time. As such, wander too far from the group, and you will be a prime target for Soldier and Lurker alike.
The Soldier is your default alien, seen in both the first and second movie. It is extremely agile, aggressive and powerful. Apart from its standard claw attack, it also has a tail stab attack which can be performed from any position, and has an approximately three meter reach which makes it a deadly ranged stealth attack, it then also has a powerful grab and stab attack, which sees the alien lift a soldier by the throat before disembowelling him with its tail spike. This last move does make the alien extremely vulnerable, so a marine attacked in a group has a good chance of surviving such an encounter if his colleagues keep their wits about them.
Next we have the Lurker. Far weaker than their soldier cousins, this class prefers the dark recesses of the map, and will not attack until it is sure of a kill. it has a much greater range, and can navigate from one side of the map to another in a couple of leaps. Again, this class has a standard claw attack, and a secondary tail spike attack, but its ranged attack is devastating. If a leap is timed to perfection, it will drag and pin a marine, before tearing him to shreds. This attack takes seconds, and if you are unfortunate enough to be the recipient of this move, its unlikely you will survive.
Now, you may have looked at the run down and thought, if we stick together as a group, surely we could hold off any alien attack? well, this is where the aliens equivalent of the Smart Gun comes into play. At set times during a match, and only allowed once, one of the alien players can “evolve” at their hive. Its been confirmed that there are several evolutions available, but only one was used during the show : The Crusher.
If the name didn’t give it away, the Crusher is an extremely slow alien, but when it attacks it will decimate anything in its path. The closest approximation, is the Charger from the L4D series, but unlike its counterpart, it doesn’t grab and attack, it will literally squash anyone foolish enough to stay in its path.
Using the Crusher correctly, will split a group, allowing the rest of his team to pick off the stragglers at their leisure.
All in all, this game looks and plays really smoothly, but it is apparent there are still bugs to be ironed out.
On several occassions, Lurkers would jump and clip through the environment, so there is still some coding issues there, but with a release date of February next year, they should have more than enough time to fix these flaws.
Roll on February 12th, this is a game that I believe will make an excellent addition to the community multiplayer nights and I for one will be picking this up day one.
Tags: Aliens: Colonial Marines, Criterion, Crytek Kiev, EA, Eurogamer Expo 2012, FPS, Gearbox Software, Natural Selection 2, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Playstation C.A.M.P, RTS, SCE Japan Studio, Sega, Sony Computer Entertainment, Tokyo Jungle, Unknown Worlds Entertainment, Warface