Hands on impressions of some of the games on the show floor of Games Alliance Middle East.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles [Release: 21-Oct-08] (by TH)
On display were both NFS: Undercover and MC: LA. And the more attractive of the two, by far, was MC: LA. Yes, NFS: Undercover had a more polished, crisper feel to it, but the gameplay was the same ‘meh-arcadey’ as always; nothing brilliant. On the other hand, MC: LA’s gameplay was…nothing new either. Think of it as MC3: DUB but running on the GTA4’s engine.
The only playable car was a Dubbed out (of course) Mustang. A typical checkpoint race was on display, and as always you could use shortcuts should you find any desire. Often, when cornering, the game sort of auto-handled your exit path out of a turn. This mini-autopilot is rather irksome at first, but soon you get used to it, and hence take advantage of it. The game doesn’t scream next-gen like NFS: Undercover does, but it doesn’t need to either. Like GTA4, it’s all about the presentation and having fun. Unlike GTA4 however, the gameplay here is actually good.
Killzone 2 [Release: Feb-09] (by TH)
After watching all the games on the show floor, this was hands down the biggest shocker, besides Resident Evil 5. That the game looks almost as good as the initial trailer released back in ’05. Pre-rendered speculation be damned, this shit is for real! What we played was the pre-alpha version, and even then it looked stunning. The biggest draw here is the cinematic lighting and the smooth visuals. The outside level where we started off was straight in the middle of a battlefield where things were blowing up all over the place. The amount of stuff going on, and then our involvement in all of that, gave this game a feeling of unprecedented epicness. And although the action felt in your face, it was also very natural and intuitive. However, the same cannot be said about the controls, which felt rather detached given the fast pacing of the game. A little tweaking should do the trick, and Guerrilla Games have 5 months to work out the kinks.
Guitar Hero: World Tour [Release: 27-Oct-08] (by TH)
World Tour is the final most obvious evolution for the Guitar Hero franchise. As the second big party game of the year, World Tour tries it’s best to make you spend your money on yet another set of plastic toys to have fun with. And it sure as hell makes a strong case. Learning from Rock Band’s mistakes, World Tour gives quieter and more sensitive drums, and the equipment feels much sturdier and of good quality overall. The gameplay feels pretty much like Rock Band, which is of course the only way to do it, since it’s so streamlined for easy ‘pickup and play’. Also, remember that if you feel like playing Rock Band, the peripherals are cross-compatible for all games now (World Tour/ Rock Band/ Rock Revolution).
Street Fighter IV – (Release Feb-09) (by SZ)
Street Fighter IV is freaking INSANE! Alright, I sound like a fanboi, but the fact that SFIV exists in its form screams of fanservice! And its precisely that, oozing love for the Street Fighter lineage right from the sexy air brush intro video up to the 2D PvP fight combos. The build available only had the arcade fighting sequence and we could never see the progress since the stands were always filled with 2 players (I was one of the first to have my Vega’s and Ken’s ass handed to me!). It’s smooth, it’s slick and even on Standard Def Composite cables the game looked beautiful. The cell shading has definitely done the trick and even though Chunli’s shawarma legs look horrendous, you better watch out when they’d be on you for her special move. We didn’t get to see an awful lot of Super or Ultra category moves from the gauge that got charged below the players, but the general combos and Haduken’s were flying around like cakes. AND THAT makes one wonder, why wait till February?!
Gears Of War 2 Multiplayer [Release:7-Nov-08] (by MJ)
Gears of War 2 was one of the games we couldn’t let go of. We sat down to play it and we got hooked onto it instantly. They had hooked up 2 systems side-by-side to play some 2v2 through system link. And boy was it fun! The level of intensity built up by the matches were insane. The addition of new weapons and polishing the old one’s to make it glitch-free was what we loved the most. Having chainsaw battles was a nice mini game to add. Maps were looking brilliant and the addition of new modes is just fantastic! Game was running smooth as it should have, and this is one of the games that was a big attraction at Games ’08. It was only an hour since we had gone away from this game that we wanted to play it again and again…
Resident Evil 5 [Release: 13-March-09] (by MJ)
Resident Evil 5 was one of the games that blew me away by just looking at it. It was still in its beta stage but man did it look sweet! The level of detail on the character and the environment was simply amazing. The textures used were just brilliant and the light effects were simply beautiful. The controls were the same old Resident Evil game controls we have all come to hate love. This is definitely one of the biggest games to look out for next year.