Gamescom 2012 Roundup
Gamescom is in the books with all the major hitters showing off what they want you to buy this Christmas. For an industry that seems averted to committing to anything new for fear of a financial loss, the gaming world looks set to welcome several new IPs. With games like The Last of Us and TearAway starting to build momentum it might be time to see more originality in the saturated market of sequels. Hopes were raised when the Gamescom website listed that Half-Life 3 would be revealed at the show. As it turned out the info presented by the Gamescom was just a rumour taken from a forum with no credibility or sanction from Valve. Valve still remains tight lipped about anything Half-Life related.
The cyber punk world of Remember Me seems well realised. From what the trailer suggests, the story revolves around a woman working for an organization, erasing or “remixing” memories of target people, making them more compliant to the organizations designs. The Heroine then has her own memory removed/remixed, leaving her to fend for herself with a lethal skill set. The narrative doesn’t stray too far from the standard sci fi story fair but it is good to see a more cohesive plot as opposed to something bizarrely abstract like, for example, Bayonetta. The combat looks to be room to room combat a la batman with some alternate navigation thrown in to mix it up. This game looks promising but perhaps from what’s been shown. lacks the edge to make it too hype.
No news on Capcom‘s next big fighting game as Yoshinori Ono’s replacement Tomoaki Ayano is lumped with the unenviable task of “fixing” StreetFighter X Tekken. Any announcement regarding DarkStalkers will most likely be made at TGS later in the year.
The Last of Us by Naughty Dog was on display and looked every inch the quality of the Uncharted series. The snippets shown gave an insight into the creation process of the visuals. The scripted scene played out with constantly improving graphics from mocap actors to finished product. The language used in the clip is adult and the lighting in the scene really captures the feeling of desperation.
The Vita had a respectable showing in cologne which at least tells us that Sony is not quitting on its struggling portable. The Vita has alienated a huge audience in the original PSP owning crowd. The essential launch purchase of a proprietary memory card soured the pill for everyone else. The only group left to build a following around is the loyal PS3 owning market. By awarding PS3 sales of PlayStation All Stars with a free PS Vita version, Sony are making it easier for non Vita owners to take the plunge while giving existing owners a reason to spend more time with their portable console.
Black Ops: Declassified by Nihilistic looked graphically strong with great audio. The trailer seemed to suggest the game will comprise of spec ops style challenge levels rather than a full blow narrative driven campaign. Multiplayer seemed intact for the most part with a cap of 8 players. It’s fair to say CoD is still printing money but will the brand of brands be enough to shift Vitas?
Another Vita announcement saw the developer of Little Big Planet show off a new 3D platform game called TearAway. The world of TearAway is made of paper, which you can tear with a swipe of your finger across the touch screen. Sony also revealed news of a new Killzone game incoming, this one called Killzone: Mercenary. The Vita game seems to focus on visceral up close kills and morally questionable activities of the titular mercs. Only a small snippet of gameplay is available at the moment. More news as we get it.
Being a European show, the focus of sports centred around football with FIFA 13 and PES 2013 making a showing. As you would expect from annual update franchises, what you’ll get is a tweaked and refined version of the last title in the stable.
Code Masters brought two motorsport titles both branded with the F1 logo. F1 2012 looks like a fan’s dream with full seasons and rosters. The more intriguing of the F1 titles on display was the kart racer called F1 Race Stars with its cute graphical style but surprising depth. Unlike most kart games, which use a power-slide mechanic, F1 Race Stars offers a boost system when exiting a corner. Other more traditional kart game mainstays, such as pick ups and weapons, are included but with an F1 twist. One power up causes a downpour of rain affecting the handling and speed of the cars, all but the user of the power who gets wet tires to counteract the altered conditions.
First person shooters were in abundance with not one but two Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 booths occupying an enviable amount of show floor space. With Microsoft pushing one of the stands, the mood was high with an hour long live stream beamed from the show to the live app on Xbox Live. During the stream, one of the developers slipped and commented on the number of “Playstations” linked up which left an embracing correction being made by host Larry ‘major nelson’ herb.
The game itself won’t be reinventing the wheel but key points like customisation have been amped up to promote more individuality amongst load-outs. The focus on e-sport was being pushed hard with a feature called “cod-casting”; this feature will allow any user to view a match and commentate on it. Hopefully, there will be a block preventing the commentator from entering private chat to forewarn friends as an unofficial extra team mate.
Frank Gibau proudly gave the keynote speech covering the Free-to-Play models domination of the future, games ecosystems and EA’s focus on releasing for as many different platforms as they can. Frank ended his speech by saying he believes the golden age of games is upon us.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter Fireteam was on show and although the franchise is the runt of the litter it didn’t look too shabby. The selling point to the new MoH is realism, focusing on tier-one specialists. With current and near future shooters filling up release schedules does this game have the angle to make it stand out from the crowd?
Crysis 3 set in a rain forest covered New York, and looked stunning with an emphasis being made on the multiplayer. A new mode was also being showcased called “Hunter”. This mode features two players that control cloaked cryo-suit assassins hunting down a team of Cell operatives. The arena on show looked vibrant with dense foliage moving in the breeze and interactive sections of the map designed as death traps.
Electronic Arts look to expand on the legacy of SimCity with their next instalment SimCity World, due in 2013.
In many ways, the new SimCity is a love letter to the fans of the original games from yester-year. The graphics look tight and the connectivity amongst players looks to inject a lot more fun into the gameplay.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted, developed by Criterion games, looks to develop the franchise in the direction of Burnout in most aspects. The crashes are in and as spectacular as ever, although in some eyes, they are starting to look too similar to every car crash in every other racing game of late. The open world is something Criterion are no stranger to, so if nothing else, Most Wanted should be a master class in how to make an arcade racer. The focus on multiplay is at a premium with the constant updates system already implemented in previous games. Perhaps the burnout style game with EA’s NFS franchise is a good match but do we need another reboot?
Dead Space 3 made its appearance at Gamescom with its trademark atmospheric gameplay. On show was the new weapon builder mode allowing you to create crazy weapons such as “mjolnir”, a super destructive weapon. A release date of Febuary 8th 2013 means fans won’t have long to wait.
Far Cry 3 offered up its new co-op feature for up to four players in a separate campaign set four months prior to the events in the single player experience. The mode looks to deliver a blend of CoD style Spec ops and Left for dead cooperation. The Camaraderie between the four protaganists felt familliar to anyone who has played L4D and seemed a good fit for the atmosphere of the game.
Ubisoft’s ZombiU didn’t cause much of a stir despite having new gameplay to show off. With less than stellar graphics and slow gameplay, Nintendo won’t be banking on this game to ensure Wii U launches with complete success.
Another new (yet very familiar) Ubisoft IP RockSmith has been gestating a while and with the decline of the music game genre, there may have been a nervous moment for the future of the title. The new trailer, shown at Gamescom, proves the real guitar powered music game is alive and kicking.
The video showed Ernie Ball Guitars vice president Brian Ball waxing lyrical about the benefit of using any guitar to interface with the game offered some credibility to the title. Jane’s addiction guitarist Dave Navarro complimented the game as easy for beginners but also great for experienced players.
Assassins Creed III showed off the naval warfare element of the game. The scope of ACIII looks to be growing exponentially with perhaps many more elements still to be revealed. Creative director Alex Hutchinson did go on record saying Assassins’s Creed 3 will be “it’s own franchise”, meaning the likely hood of regular, perhaps even annual updates of the ACIII series.
Final thoughts of the show
Gamescom has given us a good amount to look forward to and it is nice to see original IPs making a showing, rather than just a swamp of “safe bet” sequels. The factor that connected all the major developers was the focus on multiplayer and player connectivity. It seems the possibilities for financial gain are endless if companies can harness the worlds addiction to Facebook and incorporate it into their games.
The almost accepted norm of endless reams of micro transactions also looks set to continue. The very real fear is how little of a game are you left with if you choose not to buy the DLC extras at launch and throughout the life time of the game. Despite Nintendo and Microsoft being all but absent from the show, it didn’t hurt them as Sony seemed to use the breathing room to promote the also-ran PS Vita. Despite a lot of energy being put into drumming up interest; it feels like the Vita is already on borrowed time. Perhaps revealing the Playstation 3 Super Slim might have caused more of an impact?
For those keeping an eye on Kojima Productions, a release date of Febuary 19th 2013 was stated for Metal Gear: Rising. The big question of what is project Ogre will more than likely get answered at the Tokyo Game Show in September.