October 12th marked the date of the ‘Playstation Holiday Event’, designed to highlight and promote a variety of high-profile and lesser-known games due to be released in the lead up to Christmas 2011. Transforming the elegant Liberty Grand on the peaceful Toronto waterfront into a virtual killing ground must have been a shock to the system for a venue known more for weddings and banquets than assassins and adventurers, but it was a task handled with aplomb by Sony’s marketing team. The all-day event first opened its doors to the press around lunchtime, and later in the evening the venue was overrun by hordes of gamers eager to try out such games as Uncharted 3, Assassins Creed: Revelations and Need For Speed: The Run.
Also present at the show were full versions of the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection, Resistance 3, Spiderman: Edge of Time (far too clumsy for a Spiderman game), Infamous 2 and X-Men: Destiny (which I thought was Prototype 2 for most of the playthrough, and wished it was having finished, as it would have been 10x better).
Ratchet and Clank: All4One, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and The Missing Link DLC, MGS Peace Walker HD, Madden 12, NHL 12, Disney Universe, and Rocksmith rounded out the bigger names at the event, but unfortunately for one reason or another I was unable to try these out. For information on the games I did get to play, check the remaining stories that are soon to appear on the site.
First up at the ‘Playstation Holiday Event’, as it was nearest to the door, was Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, or at least the multiplayer component. Overcoming initial networking problems, the Revelations area was soon full of would-be assassins stabbing and beating each other to death, in the backdrop of a marketplace.
Although the playable arena was pretty small, both on the ground and vertically, you could tell that the multiplayer in Revelations will be just as tense as in its predecessor, Brotherhood, with stealth and cunning the name of the game. One worry, though, was how little the multiplayer seemed to have changed in the last year, particularly in terms of basic gameplay and stealth-stabbing action. Hopefully the addition of extra modes and areas in the retail version will keep this unique experience feeling fresh.
If you listed the top three wishes most people would ask for from a genie, I imagine eternal life would be up there somewhere. That’s the premise of the imaginatively titled Never Dead, the upcoming release from Konami. Players take on the role of Bryce, a demon hunter, who can seemingly never die, to the extent that he can lose, and then reattach his limbs, and can also tastefully detach his head and throw it at foes. Perhaps this isn’t a game you want to be playing whilst your Grandmother is around.
In the demo section that I played, Bryce is attempting to break into a museum, for reasons I unfortunately never found out, as it may have lent the slightest semblance of reasoning to the proceedings. As it was, I couldn’t quite grasp what I was supposed to be doing, as the game doesn’t seem to hold your hand enough for you to understand its take on ‘logical’ progression. Perhaps if I had started the game from the beginning I may have had greater knowledge of what was at stake, but the loose controls, dodgy camera, and difficulty navigating didn’t give me much incentive to find out. Given longer with the game, I may have enjoyed myself more, but from what I saw, Never Dead strikes me as a mediocre third-person shooter, though with an interesting take on the genre.
If racing cross-country (literally across the USA, not the rally-type cross-country) is your thing, then Sony had you covered at the Holiday Event in the shape of Need for Speed: The Run. Whilst only a single-race demo, The Run gave off an awesome sense of speed, yet it seemed far too easy to come off the track, even on straight sections. Not because I’m a bad driver (although I do suck at racing games), but instead because the track reset seemed to be overly sensitive, almost to the point of placing your car back into the centre of the track as soon as just a couple of tires leave the asphalt. The Run is also a huge exercise for your eyes, as not only do you have to keep on the track, and avoid your opponents, but the roads are full of civilian traffic as well, leaving ample opportunity for you to make a massive dent in the front of your car, and your finish time.
As a kid, I loved Vigilante 8 on the N64, so much that I rented it multiple times from Blockbuster, particularly when I had friends over. As such, spotting the automobile related carnage of Twisted Metal brought back so many memories that I couldn’t resist giving it a try. Set up as a local multiplayer, Twisted Metal set me up on the clown team, and given a choice of a number of vehicles, I chose a kitted-out ambulance as my ironic wheeled death machine. Throwing myself around the map whilst dishing out pain in the form of missiles, napalm and machine guns gave me unbridled joy, and the destructible environments only added to the chaos and confusion that was on offer. The one downside to the whole experience was that the destructible buildings seemed to be erratically selective, meaning that I could reduce a whole row of houses to rubble, only to be stopped by a medium-sized restaurant that just seemed to be begging for remodelling. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of seasoned gamers laughing at you as your wheels spin in a futile effort to remove yourself from a wall. Apart from said gamers then blowing your car to pieces and running away with the lead.
One of the more easy-going games on show at the Holiday Event was the slower paced The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, the tie-in for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Holiday movie. Tintin plays as a side-scrolling platformer, using mild physics puzzles and some surprisingly hard-hitting cartoon violence in order break up the running and climbing. Offering two single-player levels, ‘Marlinspike Underground’ and ‘Plane Canyon’, Tintin also contains a co-op mode which sees you repeating similar actions with a partner. For a movie tie-in, Tintin looks like a fairly respectable kid’s puzzler, with some good vehicular sections and a decent sense of adventure. There are also a good number of treasures and secret areas to discover for the more dedicated gamer, although I can see adults and non-Tintin fans becoming bored rather quickly.
I couldn’t attend a Sony event without sampling perhaps the most high-profile release on offer, which was, of course, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. This was an absolutely huge demo, with two levels available for sampling.
First up was ‘Chateau’, which saw our hero, Nathan Drake, attempting to escape a burning mansion as it collapsed around him. Whilst the ‘Chateau’ level was the longer of the two, it was ‘Cargo Plane’ which really got my heart racing, and removed any fears I may have had that Drake’s Deception wouldn’t live up to its predecessors in terms of epic experiences. Starting at a reasonably slow pace, you infiltrate a heavily-guarded airfield over rooftops and through loading areas. The action is quickly ramped up as you have to board a cargo plane in the midst of take-off whilst balancing on the hood of a jeep, and then once airborne you are required to keep your balance on the ramp of the aircraft in mid-flight as you fight a huge (Eastern-European, I’m guessing) mercenary who seems intent on throwing you off the plane to your doom. Maybe Drake forgot to buckle his seatbelt. On the basis of ‘Cargo Plane’ alone, Drake’s Deception beats any recent Hollywood blockbuster in terms of scale and excitement, and is sure to have you on the edge of your seat come November.