Besides Platinumgames’ showing, there were a ton of other games that Sega was demoing. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting the diversity of titles that was shown here. It looks like the company is really trying to branch out, displaying a bunch of new and original games. Unfortunately, none of the games were playable, but we were shown gameplay from each title as each had a couple of developers on hand to talk about their work.
The first room I wandered into was set up for Alpha Protocol, which is being billed as an “Espionage RPG”. It’s got much more of a focus on the spy stuff than anything, but you can level up your weapons and abilities as you go, so that apparently makes it an RPG. They’re also promising multiple ways to accomplish each mission, as they showed off in one where you’re trying to get into an embassy. You can force your way, sneak your way in, or just talk the guard into letting you in, which is the route the developer took. As you talk to people there’s a selection screen much like Mass Effect, where your next response is picked by the mood you want to convey.
The action allows you the usual assortment of weapons and uses a cover system with the usual blind fire and jump out and aim shooting. It’s still all very early, but it looked very familiar to anyone who’s played a stealthy action game lately.
The game didn’t do much for me, but then again it’s one of a ton of shooters coming out. There’s really going to have to be something special revealed in the role playing aspects of it to make it stand out from a million others. Alpha Protocol hits the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC first quarter 2009.
A real-time strategy game that’s unlike any you’ve seen before, Stormrise was built on the (rightful) assumption that there has yet to be a console RTS that controls well. Instead of trying to turn the controller into a mouse like so many others, they completely changed the unit selection system. Stealing a bit from Full Spectrum Warrior, you now view your soldiers from a much closer perspective and get down and dirty with them. Choosing your units is as easy as flicking the right analog stick in their direction, known as whipping. ‘Precision whips’ allow you to aim the right analog stick like a radar beacon in whatever direction your troops are (they’re represented by icons that light up so you know who you’re highlighting) and then instantly jump to them when you let go. It may sound a little convoluted but all it means is that now with just
a flick of the analog stick you’ve got control of your entire army. Shown to us as it was, it was an incredibly smart idea to eliminate the problems console gamers run into while trying to slowly scroll across a battle to get some reinforcements.
The battles are animated very well, and directing your soldiers to cover is incredibly easy. This new system also allows for battles at various heights, as shown to us in this demo. A scout creature (who can cloak itself and use mind control to make enemies fight for you) was placed stories and stories up on top of a building. It’s a good tactic here, as having someone to see over the battlefield means that you can see enemies laying in wait for you.
The goal in this particular mission was to take over these energy wells that the enemy controlled. Getting them for yourself is as easy as getting your soldiers near them when you’ve cleared out the enemies, and once it’s yours you start getting energy for upgrades, new units, and defensive capabilities on that energy spot (such as turrets). But that’s all there is for harvesting- these are the only things you’ll have to worry about. So nice to not have to micromanage your harvesters.
Besides the regular soldiers there are gigantic creatures that you can command (and fight against), huge mechanical tanks, and even your own customizable Commander character who (quite literally) stands out from the others.
The game will have 8 player online multiplayer (4 vs 4) which will be jump in and jump out, meaning that the battles will continue with computer AI even if people leave. The entire campaign will also be playable co-op with a friend over the internet or via splitscreen (yes!). The entire campaign is said to take 10-12 hours to complete, and when you’re done with that, you can also challenge your friends to skirmishes.
So yeah, doesn’t this sound great? This was my favorite part of E3, finding games that took me completely by surprise. I love me some RTS but I can’t play Command and Conquer on my 360- this one could change all that. We’ll find out when it releases in 2009.
Empire Total War -
I’ll admit- I’m not as up on my Total War games as I should be. Watching this new game in action gave me a kick in the ass to check out the last few, cause this just simply looks incredible. Course, it doesn’t hurt to watch a PC game on a massive LCD screen, but this is just one good looking game, all around.
This new title brings things to the 18th Century, and its biggest advance… naval warfare. The water physics are some of the best you’ve seen in a game so far, the fights large and powerful. The most amazing thing is that you can zoom all the way in on each ship and see the literally hundreds of people on each vessel running around taking care of things. You’ve got the soldiers inside the ship manning the cannons, the people up top ready to fight if you board another ship- each of them so well rendered that you can see the details on their shirts.
The sea battles really are something else. Every single cannonball fired from every ship (some of which have hundreds of cannons) is rendered to realistically take apart the others. We watched as the developers shot another ship’s mast off, effectively crippling it in the water. They pulled up next to it and we watched as the soldiers threw hooks over to the other ship, pulling it closer so they could board and loot it.
Unfortunately, another friendly unit was still firing on the enemy ship, one of the developer’s rocket ships. Yes, rockets did exist back them- very primitive ones that didn’t aim well, of course, but it’s fun to see them light up your enemies. Except when your guys are still on their ship, as these unlucky soldiers found out. They tried to put it out but it spread too fast, and they all started jumping into the sea and swimming away after realizing that their efforts were futile. The fire spread down below where the poor guys manning the cannons were oblivious to the ship’s situation, and before you could say “gunpowder” the entire thing exploded and sunk into the water. Amazing stuff.
Course, there will be land battles as well, which will support up to 10,000 soldiers on screen at once. Same as the cannonballs, every bullet will be rendered realistically with a brand new physics system. It’s not the kind of game where people firing from above will just get a +1 bonus or something- the bullets themselves will determine any potential advantage. Massive battles with a ton of different armies to take control of.
Definitely one to watch out for, PC gamers. February 2009 is when it hits.
I was excited about this one. You and I and everyone we know who saw the trailer for this game remarked on two things- it looked beautiful, and it looked… great? But can anyone even remember the last truly great Sonic game for consoles? (hint, it wasn’t last Xbox 360/PS3 one. Or the Wii one.) Sure, the DS has Sonic Rush to brag about, but what about the rest of us who want a brand new good lookin’ Sonic?
But while some of my fellow journalists gushed hyperbole from every orifice after seeing this game in action, I came out a little more reserved. Sure, the speedy sections looked fantastic. They took advice from the fans and added lots of branching points to each and every level, and the developers didn’t hesitate to point them out as they passed them. The speed and action looks absolutely stunning, and the two levels we were shown (based on Mykonos and China) looked pretty damn faithful to their cities, and it looked like a joy to control Sonic. It would change from running towards the screen to old-school sidescroller a few times over the course of each level, and looked incredibly fun and faithful to good old Sonic.
“So what’s wrong then, Alex? Why you hatin’ on Sonic?” you might ask, to which I’d sadly shake my head and tell you about what happens to Sonic at night…
See, there’s another side to the game, and the gameplay is as different… well, it’s as different as night and day. (that might be the worst pun you’ve ever read. Sorry.) During the night due to story aspects we weren’t told about, Sonic transforms into Sonic the Werehog. He’s big and bulked up and got sharp claws on his stretch-armstrong arms. What’s this mean for the gameplay? You’re running around slashing and spinning at enemies and jumping up to ledges using your go-go gadget arms.
I cried a bit inside when I saw this. The thing that Sonic Rush did right is that it was straight up, no bullshit, speedy Sonic, with no stupidity like some of the other games (fishing with overweight cats, anyone?) . No one plays a Sonic game for an action/platformer, they play it for fast action that doesn’t let up. It’s very simple, and it sucks that Sonic Team still hasn’t figured this out.
So hopefully it won’t be a deal-breaker, as the Day sections of the game looked really, really good. We’ll see when game hits November.
So as you can see, combined with the might of Platinumgames (I’m telling you, you’re going to be hearing tons about Bayonetta in the future) Sega had a really strong lineup to show off for their upcoming year, and this is without even a demo of Aliens in sight!