Good evening, party people! If you've listened to the podcast already, then you know that there was a Microsoft event today, known as the "2008 Xbox 360 Spring Showcase." I have returned from said event and am about to start writing articles about the games I saw. Actually, I'm about to blow my nose, then turn on the television for some background noise. Then I might slip these shoes off. Yeah, definitely going shoeless. But before we get to that point, here are quick impressions of what was there and what I saw.
For starters, there were no new announcements at the event. All the talk about "Lips" and "Ninja Blade" that we saw yesterday are still secrets. No new motion controller was there, either.
But there were a handful of games there, and Microsoft's Shane Kim presented them all as games that would be shipping this year. Here's the list, along with q quick sentence or two, just to get you going while I collect my notes and thoughts into more meaningful text:
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - The vehicle-building stuff is really cool and works surprisingly well. I was quickly able to take a big, bulky vehicle and slap jets, propellers, and wings onto it, making it some kind of crazy jet. Potentially very rad.
Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise - Dude, they are making a sequel to Viva Pinata and it looks awesome. More pinatas, streamlined controls, crazy card-scanning without the awful exploitation that usually goes with collectible cards. Sold. If you didn't like Viva Pinata, you're a Bad Person.
Ninja Gaiden 2 - You've probably already read a ton about this, as most press outlets have had preview discs for awhile. I'm not a huge fan of the original game, so I'm not the best judge for this one, but it's got multiple difficulty levels and the combos and blood effects that result from said combos look impressive. I briefly spoke with Tomonobu Itagaki in a group interview setting to learn a bit more.
Fable 2 - Peter Molyneux was on-hand to give a quick taste of Fable 2. The ideas seem sound and he comes across as completely sincere when he tells you that he wants to make one of the top ten game stories of all-time. I'm left wondering if it will be able to attract the "casual" audience he's going after without alienating people who have been playing games for years, as that's probably the riskiest thing he mentioned about the entire game. Ambitious and potentially amazing.
Gears of War 2 - Cliff "Young Clifford" Bleszinski on was in the building to show more of the level that last weekend's gameplay clip was culled from. After seeing him demo the game, I am officially excited about Gears of War 2. Kudo Tsunoda was also up in there to talk about Gears in a group interview-type thing, where I was the ass who made the Def Jam Icon joke. Come on, if Marcus Fenix could make air turntables to gain momentum against the Locust, that would be awesome.
Too Human - Unless they slipped something into the ventilation system and I'm dreaming all this, I totally played Too Human. Which implies that it is, indeed, a video game that can be played and potentially enjoyed. Story-driven RPGs and loud rooms full of people who are too busy trying to order drinks to play games don't mix, but the combat seems interesting and at times I was reminded of Diablo.
Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - What's worse than trying to play an RPG for 20 minutes in a loud room? Trying to play one that's trying to tell you jokes along the way. I didn't even try to play this one, as I'm saving myself for its actual release. Though I saw someone collect an orange, which can be used in combat to "distract robots." The potential for robot-on-fruit fornication as an in-game animation left me with a warm feeling inside and hope for the future. Also? Dialogue trees.
Remember, Shane Kim opened the event by saying that all of these games will be out this year. In case you didn't notice, Halo Wars was not on the above list. It's a game without an official release date, though GameStop's retail database has it pegged at a totally-made-up date of October 1. I was left wondering "will Halo Wars ship this year?" Then I asked myself "will Halo Wars ever ship?" I sort of half-heartedly posed the question to a Microsoft employee, but his extremely large, extremely dark sunglasses made an already-good poker face even better, so no answers there. However, the game's official site is still seeing frequent updates, so it seems pretty clear that development continues.