This week I was lucky enough to attend a Ubisoft event during which I got to spend some quality hands-on time with Ubi's forthcoming titles. What follows is a brief run-down of the titles I got to play followed by some trailers. Enjoy.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - Xbox 360
In recent years the Ghost Recon games have become visually very busy relying on way too many on-screen visual aids supporting the modern-day advanced warfighter. And with Future Soldier the gameplay for the large part remains unchanged though, which is nice. Although the game isn’t due out until 2012, the Xbox 360 version is coming along nicely. Of special note is the kinect compatible weapon design mode. This was show cased at E3 but seeing it used in the flesh without the exaggerated arm waving made more of an impression. All they need to do now is have a browse of the DARPA website and put some really out-there weapons in from the start.
The AI still needs to be beefed up a little from the early build on show- getting stuck behind a couple of civilians who seem to be stuck on the run animation harks back to the Rainbow Six days of getting stuck in stairwells with inward opening doors that no bugger in your team will move out of the way for. Overall though this is one to watch out for, especially the multiplayer which is already a hoot.
WRC2 - Xbox 360
If you’re a fan of nostalgia, then Black Bean Games' WRC2 is undoubtedly the game for you. Chiefly because there are times when it doesn’t even look as good as Rallisport Challenge 2 on the original Xbox, which is more than a little baffling. There's texture pop-up to a level that is actually distracting and the road textures themselves are often quite poor.
Rallying through Germany, it was odd to see lakes of very reflective water floating above the road. The handling isn’t brilliant either; the entire game seems to be one long powerslide that doesn’t really vary from surface to surface. It plays like a very early build but is actually due for release October which doesn’t leave very much time to sort out some significant issues.
Still, there can’t be many games about that let you rally in a Fiat 500.
From Dust - Xbox 360
If the chap from Ubisoft was tired of hearing people tell him that From Dust is very reminiscent of Populous, the Promised Lands, then he didn’t show it. Apart from maybe that tick in the corner of his left eye. Graphically the game is incredibly lush - you can see for yourself below. Meanwhile, playing the game itself quickly dispels any concerns over whether there is enough to do and whether a game controller is up to the job that everyone got so proficient doing with a mouse. The left trigger picks up matter, the right one sets it down. The right bumper zooms in and out, the right stick rotates and the left stick moves you about. And that is about that, wonderfully simple really.
I spent a good ten minutes trying to break the in-game logic by completely ignoring my tribe and trying to extinguish a volcano by diverting a waterfall into the Caldera. I’m convinced I could have made it work too if it hadn’t been for the queue forming behind me. It’s a game that really encourages dicking about too, it looks nice enough that you sort of want to drop a huge ball of water onto your tribe's long established village, just to see the huts sink back into the ground.
Priced at 800 MS points, this is going to be the must have downloadable game of the year and it is really completely baffling that nobody has done this sort of game already.
Rayman Origins - PS3
At an event that also showcased the new Assassin's Creed game, Tintin in 3D and Driver, it’s odd that the most spectacular game from a visual perspective was Rayman Origins. The gorgeous graphics are seamlessly animated and backed up by proper platforming action too. Fortunately it’s no stroll in the park either, although some clever multiplayer mechanics ensure that if there is more than one player, dying is something that can be avoided for a fair proportion of the time. When your character is pranged, he inflates and drifts around the screen, eventually popping and dying. If the other player can land a well placed punch before you pop, you’re resurrected.
The levels on display encompassed lush jungles and pesky bat-filled pyramids, the former showcasing the jumping and swinging mechanics, whilst the latter really showed off the lighting and some of the more strategic play. Whether it was too many cocktails or a lack of recent platform gaming, the pyramid level seemed bastard-hard. Basically the player has to hit a series of gongs in order to get a torch that gradually diminishes, allowing the killer bats to get closer and closer, making it a madcap dash across the levels, with limited visibility to boot. Great fun all in all and probably the highlight of the Ubisoft show.