Mitu Khandaker's game, Redshirt, was something different that caught my eye at the show. The premise is simple. you're a Redshirt who, inevitably is doomed to go on an away mission, which is never good news for people in Redshirts. With a lot of tongue in cheek sci-fi references, the entire game is set on a Spoof space social network, called 'Spacebook' (geddit?) and you have to manoeuvre yourself off the mission by ingratiating yourself with the other crew members. Obviously, it is much more than this, with a credit system and time limiting factors that make multi-tasking a must. Add to that the whole emotional gamut of dating aliens, managing your work/life balance and invitations to social events, it looks like the game could be complex and deep as well as funny. Mitu says the game will be available on PC, Mac and Linux with an iPad version in the works. I had a quick go on the iPad version and the slick design, modelled very slightly on the Star Trek LCARS interface is both appropriate and vaguely unsettling when you consider the tablets were used on Star Trek before Apple event started thinking about moblie devices. You can pre-order Redshirt from their website now which will give you access to the Beta on PC. Watch this space for a preview.
Assault Android Cactus
I found this gem in the Indie Games Arcade and it stopped me in my tracks as I thought it looked out of place. The polish and professionality of the game stood out and becomes more impressive when you realise it comes from three man team, Witchbeam. The Australian based trio have made a mad co-op twin stick arena shooter which, initially daunting with its missiles, lasers and power pickups, becomes fluid and understandable as you play and eventually get the 'intuitive lock-on'. I jumped on with another gamer, and instantly bonded with him, mainly over our combined lack of ability and age, but we had loads of fun, talking to each other and trying to work out what was going on. Sanatana Mishra, the designer, was on hand to advise us and give us tips and it soon we got the hang of it. Sanatana also mentioned that it will be coming to the PS4 and the Vita. Watch the site for a preview of the game and you can get your hands on to the Early Access Game from Steam.
First of all, I have to say it; believe the hype. Titanfall was mighty impressive. Respawn's first offering after the Infinity Ward fracture could well be the nail in the COD Coffin. After its first outing at E3, gamers have been salivating over every screenshot, video trailer and gameplay footage. There was much anticipation at Eurogamer in the queues of people playing it and inevitably the queue for the game was in the multiples of hours at peak times.
Before we got to play the game, our group of excited gamers were sat down with wireless headphones and were shown an introductory video on the big screen in the style of a military briefing. This was clever on several levels; it kept the people in the queue happy while they waited, it built up the fervour and expectation but, especially in my case, it meant we knew how to use the basic controls before we got to the controller, allowing us to get straight into the game.
The demo gave us a choice of three different classes of Pilot with Assault, Tactical and CQB. These had loadouts and abilities matched to their class with new unique weapons. The Tactical loadout, the one I played with, had no assault weapons, but a choice of two pistols, the first, the Wingman B revolver, packed quite a punch in the style of a magnum and was quite useful. This was the secondary weapon for all classes. The unique weapon for the tactician was the Smart Pistol, which allowed you to lock onto enemies and shoot a salvo of micro-missles which followed the enemy as he ran away. More fun was the special weapon. Each class has a gun that can be used against the Titans. The tactician's weapon was the MGL, the Magnetic grenade Launcher, which, as the name suggests, fires grenades at the Titan, adhering to its metal frame. The tactician's special ability was an invisibility cloak, which worked in much the same way as the Killzone cloak; limited time of use which dropped if you fired your weapon.
The Titan classes were classes were; The Main Battle Titan, The Heavy Weapons Titan and the High Explosives Titan. As the names suggest, their weapons are balanced with their speed of loading and amount useable. I went for the Heavy Weapons Titan, which came with a Rocket Launcher, shoulder mounted Cluster Rocket Ordnance and the ability to create clouds of electric smoke which occluded vision, but also acted as an EMP cloud disabling other Titans that walked through it. What was interesting was finding out which combination of Pilot and Titan you went for. I imagine on release the game will have more classes than was presented at the demo but, for the sake of simplicity and balanced gameplay, these were kept to a minimum for the show. It will be interesting to see what else is available.
The multiplayer also acts as part of the campaign, with story elements presented as objectives in the game. You're dropped as a pilot into the battle from an airship and land in a futuristic city with the objective of finding a particular character (Baxter, I think he was called). Immediately you can run up walls and double jump to high up ledges and rooftops to move across the landscape. This game is a proper three dimensional shooter, with battle occurring at all levels at high speed. Respawn mentioned in the briefing that it was possible to navigate all the way across the map without ever touching the ground, and I had a go at doing this. This is proper fun, you can leap from building to building, slip into windows, take out a player and then move on, making a cat and mouse game frenetic and exhilarating.
After a time, your Titan meter fills up and, with a click of the D-Pad you Titan falls from the sky into a designated area of your choice. Jumping in is every bit as satisfying as it looks in the trailers, with the padded doors closing in front of you before turning into a cockpit screen. The Titans are slow and ponderous, with limited mobility through choke points, but they're powerful brutes and can take out swathes of pilots if they get in your way. The tendency is to seek out other Titans and have at it in a maelstrom of whizzing, swirling contrail-soaked ordnance. In practice you're a big target and being the Titanfall noob that I am, I didn't last long. Still it was bloody good fun.
At the end of the game, after a team has won, instead of going to a loading screen, you had an extra game called 'The Epilogue'. This was a short thirty second finale where the losing team had a chance to dash to a drop ship to escape, while the winning team chase and hunt you down. Needless to say, in the ensuing panic I forgot how to climb walls to get to the dropship on the roof of a building and spent a frantic time scrabbling at the walls like a cat locked out of the house, before being left behind by my teammates.
All in all, it was a lot of fun. It was a refreshing change to the standard military shooter, it looked absolutely fabulous and I left the booth with a big smile on my face. It's not a deep tactical game like Battlefield, however it will fill the needs of the spray and pray shooter fan and, as we know from the success of COD, there a plenty of those.
Mike Bithell's latest game, Volume, is playable at the show and, after having a go myself, I caught up with him to chat about his progress so far.
I asked him about the lead up to Eurogamer and wondered what his priorities were when producing a demo for the show. He'd had a few issues on the first day, with players taking a long time on the game and he had to spend time adjusting the demo to ensure the public didn't have to wait too long to play it. He talked about the challenge of giving a good first impression without giving away the story of Volume.
Speaking of the narrative, Mike said there had been some interesting guesses of the plot from some of his followers on Twitter. One follower pretty much guessed it outright, which could have been quite a blow for him, except that the guy only had about ten of his own followers. One person has even come up with his own idea for a game based on his suppositions on Volume. Fortunately, Mike found this quite flattering.
We talked about some of the challenges when it came to making the game on the PS4. Mike was very keen to point out that the Unity Engine made this task less laborious, and essentially didn't have to code for the PS4 as Unity takes care of that. It is easier these days to make polished, independent games, as the technology is much more more forgiving, but at the ground level, it is still about coming up with a good idea with addictive, fun gameplay. Having visited the Indie games arcade I tend to agree with him. There were some great new games there that looked very polished and were impressive considering the such small teams associated with them.
Volume will be coming to the PS4 and Vita and Mike was full of praise for Sony and how it supports developers. There's no pressure in terms of deadlines and it was Mike himself who suggested the title being exclusive to Sony. It was obvious he was pleased with the success of Thomas Was Alone and, despite starting on PC, the move to PS3 and Vita was significant in terms of promoting the game and building appeal. This supports the claims of other studios and Mike agrees that it was a win for the developers but also for gamers.
I asked Mike about his past. How did he start in the industry? He originally worked with a large team at Blitz Games, who have sadly recently ceased trading. He noticed other independent developers who were creating some very personal products and Mike was keen to do something for himself. He stressed that Blitz were very supportive and were happy for him to code at home so long he didn't fall asleep at his desk at Blitz. After it became clear that Thomas Was Alone was going to be a commercial success Blitz suggested he should branch out on his own to work on the project. Mike believes Blitz knew he had something special from the start.
He moved to BOSSA studios, makers of Surgeon Simulator, and they took great pains when he joined them to ensure he could retain property of all his own future IP. They supported and guided him through the process of making TWA and we was honestly very sad to leave them and go Independent when starting work on Volume.When asked about future projects, Mike said that he's always planned to have five games up his sleeve, with the intention of one game helping him fund the next. This has happened with TWA, which he produced on a low budget. The success of this game has funded development on Volume and has allowed him to plan more ambitious game on a larger scale. Of the five, TWA and Volume are the first two and Mike said the next three are already pretty much sewn up ideologically. This is exciting news, although Mike was keen to not give too much away about this.
I asked about the nature of the game and how it works on the PS4 and Vita. Mike did say it was better suited to a controller as the keyboard buttons give less angular freedom when moving the character around. He was loathe to use PS3 controllers for his demo at Eurogamer, for obvious reasons (and he definitely couldn't use Xbox controllers), but was also nervous to use the PS4 controllers in case they got stolen from the stand. In the end he had to compromise with a mouse, but this won't be the default control system. When asked about cross-saving from the Vita to the PS3, Mike would like users to be able to build and edit levels on the Vita while on the go and then upload then to the cloud so that they could be used on the PS3. He didn't rule out cross-control as a feature, but this was a lower priority for him.
Mike has had a busy four days and his voice was starting to fail him after chatting all weekend, but he was happy and optimistic for himself and Indie Gaming in the UK. After visiting the Indie Games arcade I had large smile on my face from that sheer originality, ingenuity and downright fun that was on offer. It is certainly an exciting time for the games industry. Thanks to Mike for taking the time to chat with me. Watch the site for further updates about Volume.
If you're thinking of making it up to Eurogamer this weekend, check out Paul's guide to surviving the day in this feed. Meanwhile, here's a quick look at what's going on...
After a LOOONG wait I got my hands on the much anticipated Demo from Quantick Dream. It's a beautiful looking game, which is to be expected from the studio famous for its mo-cap technology.
The demo consisted of two parts, both of which were designed to introduce you to Jodie's psychic and telekinetic abilities. The first section focused on a young Jodie taking part in the classic 'guess the card' experiment which goes horribly wrong. This gives you a chance to get to grips with the out of body roaming ability you have where you can interact with psychic hotspots in your environment.
The second part of the demo lets you play as an older Jodie, learning combat training and teaching you how to react to enemy combat moves. This jumps to a later part in the story where, for some reason you're being hunted.
This is the meat of the Demo and is the show stopper section to impress the public. It gives you an insight into what choices you have in the game as you play, but also shows you what Jodie is capable of. I found the gameplay frustrating, constantly being lead by the hand, with little freedom to explore and move around. Couple this with a similar experience to Heavy Rain, with intricate button prompts to pass through obstacles in your way, I'm hoping that this is not representative of the whole game.
Obviously this is a small section of the full product, but if Quantic Dream hope this to be the PS3's swan song, they need to bring in something new to impress after titles like The Last of Us has raised the bar. Watch this space for further coverage of Beyond Two Souls.
The latest Vita game from Media Molecule, Tearaway, is a new IP, which although a departure from Little Big Planet, still retains a cutesy element. MM have spent a lot of time working with real life paper models to get the world they have created as tangible and convincing as possible. In the demo you are introduced to the main protagonist, the Messenger, and are given a walk through of the initial controls in the inevitable tutorial level.
The use of varying inputs makes for a refreshing change to the usual Vita gimmicks and becomes an integral part of the control system. Some aspects of the platforming were somewhat challenging; for instance it was hard to judge Z-axis distances when jumping to higher levels, but I imagine this will become easier as you play more of the game.
Visually it's very pretty and the trademark uniqueness of MM's design shows through as well as a love of attention to detail. The demo booth was very popular with queues of intrigued players waiting for a go. It looks like this could well be another success story for MM and bodes well for the Vita's expanding Library. Watch the site for a full review later.
Just a little check of things to take that will help you to enjoy your time at the show;
So hope you have a good show and give one of us shout on the site Twitter if your on the show floor over the coming days.
The game is playable in the PS4 over 18 zone and its well worth the wait to take your place as a Space Ninja.
Its Ubisoft versus Electronic Arts in the open world car racing game championship of the world. Both games were offering a next gen showing but which would take the lead and leave the other trailing in their wake.
On the realism front The Crew brings you to real world locations, in this case Miami Beach filled with people and you are allowed to mow these people down with gay abandon. It sounds odd but in most Car games people are not on screen but thankfully The has left them on the street. Unfortunately the game felt a little flat to me and the open world tasks were not that engaging meaning the game did not win me over.
The game felt very reminiscent of Hot Pursuit with the cops versus crooks gameplay. If the game can deliver on its promise of seemless transition from single to multiplayer then it will be the game to have in this genre.
Obviously we will have to wait and see on that front but for now I'm a Rivals fan.