By Stefan 18 Comments
...and I have got to say that it was pretty awesome. Cologne is about two hours from my home town so there wasn't much to think about when I made the decision whether or not to go there. Cologne's convention center was fairly easy to find and the layout of the whole center is in my opinion even better than that of the convention's former home in Leipzig.
The first games I looked at when I arrived were some MMOs including Guild Wars 2, Aion and some game called Tera. Though I am not a guy who's too fond of MMOs I enjoyed my time with Guild Wars 2. The graphics looked up to date and the world looked less MMO-ish. Which means to me that the houses were closer together and the roads didn't look like highways, it just looked more realistic in it's own terms.
There were some browser MMOs, too. One was especially horrible. You played some dude who escaped from prison GTA-style and drove around in a car which felt like a soapbox. However there was also a neat looking browser MMO called Black Prophecy. It was kind of like the old Wing Commander or the Rouge Squadron games. The controls felt pretty sharp and the visuals were more than alright for some browser game.
After that I took a snack, which was horrible. My fries tasted like shit and so did my Bratwurst - but at least I wasn't hungry anymore and ready to check out some more games.
So I went to the Nintendo booth to take a look at the 3DS but unfortunately they didn't have it at the show... unfortunately for them since the other Nintendo stuff didn't interest me at all. Microsoft was in the same hall as Nintendo so I went there to check out some games at their place. There was also not a lot of stuff going on there except for Kinect, which I later on checked out at the Konami booth. I played Dance Revolution and some downhill surfing kind of game which were both good enough to show how accurate the device works... and it does run accurate as can be. It had no problem of tracking my movements spot on. Though the first Kinect games don't look better than the Wii games lineup when it was first released in 2006 I have high hopes for Kinect's future. It is a little irritating not to have a controller in your hand but also strangely satisfying.
After that I played a bit of LEGO Universe which was one of the most impressive games at the show. Though it's meant to be played by small kids (there is a lot of moderation going on in the game) I felt that it could also be appealing to some adults. The game features all kinds of themes out of the many which LEGO came up with over the past few decades like pirates, space, medieval... However there are no IPs like Star Wars, Harry Potter or Batman in the games. During the game you seem to earn LEGO bricks which you can then again use to build your own stuff. The cool thing is that you can not only share your LEGO inventions with people in the game but you can also order your LEGO design online and you get it sent to your address in real life bricks :-D
The developer I talked to while I was at the booth also gave me some beta keys and I managed to get two keys for the GB community, I'll post them later in the comments.
Right next to the LEGO Universe booth was Super Scribblenauts which was Scribblenauts in a slightly upgraded version, at least that's how I felt about it. The visuals were the same as in the first game, so were the game-play and the sounds.
Last but not least they had this huge retro section in the hall which featured a console collection from the one German duder who has the biggest collection in the world and a booth of a new magazin which only features games up to 8-Bit. Yeah you just read that, 8-Bit games. Apparently there is still a huge community of gamers who develop games for 8-Bit systems. The magazine is called RETURN and the dude who is publishing it told me that the interest in developing games for the NES again for example is bigger than ever since all of Nintendo's patents expired for the console. You now can buy completely new NES games, however I am not quite sure how I should feel about that... have fun anybody who is into that.
After that I went to the next hall where Sony had its stage and booth. They showed Playstation Move which really isn't anything else than a Wii-Mote just four years later I guess. I had really high hopes for Gran Turismo 5, I love racing games and I have been waiting for this game since I first saw the tech demo of Gran Turismo HD back when the PS3 was released. However the game really looked insignificantly different from Forza Motorsport 3 which I learned to love over the past year. The graphics were not stunning and the game-play didn't seem any better than that of Forza. After I saw that I felt foolish for having waited so long for that damn game...
Moving on. I also got the chance to get my Hands on Mafia II which played a lot like Mafia I. You had two more experienced Mafia dudes with you, blasted your way through a building, ran out after it caught fire and tried to escape the police in a wild chase. I guess if you were into Mafia I you probably will like Mafia II, those games have a lot in common in my opinion. Oh and there were also cover mechanics in the game and as in most shooters today you didn't have a health bar.
Then I saw a modified version of the RAGE stange demo that was shown at E3 (at least the guy said that it was slightly different). The only impressive thing about the game was that it ran on 60 frames/second on a 360 with quite good graphics. The game itself look like Borderlands, to be honest if I hadn't known that it was RAGE I would have taken it for being Borderlands 2 or something like that.
Blizzard showed the new WoW addon which you could also play. However I think it's kind of strange to play it at a convention since you need a lot of time to get into an MMO especially if you have to begin with a level 1 character. Same goes for SW:TOR. They had a playable version of the game there but it was strange to play it at the booth.
But what I played was twenty minutes of Diablo III. I had four classes to choose from and I went with the sorceress and killed my way through the lands. It sure felt like Diablo but didn't feel like anything more. However I know that if I had been at home I could have gone on playing this game right to its end. It felt like a remake of Diablo II with up-to-date graphics and game-play improvements. The effects looked great and the difficulty seemed just about right.
After that I checked out Gothic 4. I played through Gothic 1-3 and I was not quite sure what to expect from the fourth installment since the developer changed and to be honest I am not quite sure even now that I played it. You start off on this small island where you talk to people, run some errants, do Gothic stuff I'd say. The game-play however felt a little different than in other Gothic games. The character walked strangely and didn't get to well around edges. The frame rate was bearable but far from good, even worse on the 360. I'll have to see about this game but I'll definitely will pick it up with mixed feelings.
After that I played Driver San Francisco which was nice, they made the driving feel like I was back in Driver 1 which I really liked and the car swapping felt good, too. I am not sure what else to say about this game since there was only one race available in the adequate looking demo where I had to drive behind a Delorean to score points and win.
Last but not least I played the new Castlevania which felt a little bit like Heavenly Sword on the PS3. But it was also one of those games I didn't play long enough to make a good judgement about it.
All in all I enjoyed the show, there was a lot of stuff I hadn't seen before and it felt good to get a look at the games that I have been waiting for so long now.
edit: I forgot to mention that I also watched a demo of the new Red Faction game that is coming out. It played underground because the surface area seems to have been destroyed though I didn't quite get how it was destroyed... I can't remember such an ending from Guerrilla. Anyway the demo showed how the main character had to clear the way for some convoy. The game didn't look as open as Guerrilla did but still quite spacious. There was a new weapon in the game which basically sucked one thing to another: for example they showed what happened if you shot at a brick wall and then at some strange mutant monster. The monster got smashed by the bricks of cause. They also showed this nano repair tool which was capable of repairing man made structures.
After they cleared the area the convoy rolled in and a "Dune-esque sandworm creature" appeared out of nowhere - the end :-)