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E3 2009: Omnibus E3 demo/hands-on roundup

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We came, we saw, we played.

Sega

Alpha Protocol: We first saw AP at last year’s E3 and things are looking quite good for Sega’s upcoming “modern-day spy RPG”. It’s currently in Alpha and is scheduled for a late Fall launch on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. It plays like a shooter with sprinklings of RPG thrown in to mix it up.

To recap: the main protagonist is Michael Thorton and he’s still out to save the world. As Thorton you can upgrade weapons in the “black market” like you would in Dead Space. Mini games are also in effect throughout the game and they’re akin to the mini games you might find in BioShock. There will be roughly 25 hours and the last mission has various endings depending on which path you choose to take. A “Fury” mode slows down the gameplay that allows Thorton to close in on enemies for hand to hand combat.

Aliens vs Predator: Rebellion makes a comeback on this upcoming Sega title that revisits and improves on their first AVP title that came out in 1999. AVP takes place 30 years after Aliens 3. Behind closed doors I saw a bit of the Marine campaign mode while E3 attendees checked out Predator campaign (or was it Alien?). To be honest it looked like any other FPS, but with Aliens and Predators hunting down your Marine ass. In other words, I liked it. There are three separate campaign modes that let you experience the thrill of the hunt from each side, but they all follow the same narrative story. Rebellion confirmed that AVP will have online multiplayer but failed to divulge any other details during the private demo. It’s set for an early simultaneous 2010 launch for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

The Conduit: Without a doubt, the best FPS for the Wii with amazing graphics that would have you think you’re on an Xbox 360 or PS3. Online multiplayer is fantastic and the weapons in the game are badass. What sets the title apart from other Wii FPS titles is the amount of in-game control you have over controller settings. You can tweak the settings to make them as precise as you want. Just like you would on a PC. But the comparisons end there. It’s a start, though. And a damn good one at that.

EA

NHL10: I’m not a hockey buff or fan, but EA had a compelling demo to make me want to play their upcoming hockey title, NHL 10. I especially enjoyed the first person fighting. If you’re getting whooped on your screen gradually gets darker and darker to indicate that you’re about to lose the fight. If your star player gets hassled then the team’s tough guys come in to protect him. On the board play was also improved and lets players protect the puck like you would in real life. You can kick the puck away; pin an opponent to the glass and AI even comes over to help out. The fans also bang on the glass to replicate a real life hockey game. EA stated that passing was also improved from past releases with a full control passing scheme that lets you control speed and accuracy. The default setting is a hybrid control scheme between full control and assisted control. There have been over 200 improvements that include the ability to shoot from your knees and leg kicks to fake a shot.

FIFA 10: You might not believe it but the US ranks second behind the UK in sales for the FIFA franchise. The FIFA teamed scoured the forums to find out what gamers wanted improvements on for FIFA 10 and the 70 percent of the work went into improving the game based on those criticisms and critiques. Manager Mode features 50 new improvements, but the biggest improvement has to be the 360 degrees of dribbling. You can push the ball anywhere, make small lateral touches, and make minute directional changes. There’s also a bit more contact when going for the ball so it feels authentic!

Dragon Age Origins: Set to launch on October 20th of this year. I’m not big into RPGs like this, but making video game characters do the humpty hump intrigues me. During my private demo, the BioWare devs bedded loner, sorceress, hottie Morrigan pissing off a fine red-headed Irish lass by the name of Leliana. If it’s from BioWare it has to be good, right?

Dante’s Inferno: Video game adaptation of the Divine Comedy (duh). Your goal is to save Beatrice. Your weapons include Death’s scythe and a cross that Beatrice once gave us a gift. As you can imagine, each level is one of the nine Circles of Hell and you begin in Limbo with unbaptized children terrorizing you among other beastly creatures. Graphics were stunning and at 60fps, gameplay is quite smooth. Dante collects souls as currency in the game and has the ability to absolve or punish characters that pop up throughout the game. Reload times in between deaths is amazingly quick. Fun fact: protestors were on hand at the EA booth handing out flyers to get the game banned.

Mass Effect 2: Is Shepherd dead? Well, BioWare made it clear that ME was a trilogy, so you should be able to figure that one out assuming you survived the first game. If you did then you can import your ME game into ME2. So make sure you survive ME2 so you can import it into ME3. Weapon effects, like head shots have been improved and there are now 90 weapons classes to choose from. An “interrupt” option has been implemented in the real time dialogue system that pops up in the bottom left corner of the screen. What I saw during my demo was a confrontation between Shepherd and a mercenary (or something, I don’t remember what he was) that resulted in Shepherd pushing him through a window that he was leaning up against. In this scenario, the player has the option of acting on the “interrupt” whether he/she/it chooses to do so.

So the question remains whether or not Shepherd is dead. BioWare debuted a short cinematic trailer with the Normandy going down and Shepherd trying to save a crewmember. In the process, the ship gets hit one more time and Shepherd is seen floating off into space with very little oxygen. BioWare promises numerous endings based on the team you pick, so you best be picking a strong one.

Lucas Arts

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Three new features were revealed last week at E3 and that includes a new class, cover system and multiplayer dialogue, but I won’t go into the latter since it’s a bit dry and you can probably figure out what happens.

New class: Han Solo-like character that’s a gunrunner for the Republic. Weapons at his disposal include flash bang grenades, pistol, and nut kicking moves, literally.

Cover system: For the first time in an MMO, TOR has a cover system that works much like cover systems you’ll find in console FPS games. However, there are multiple points in one section, behind a boulder for instance, that give players better coverage or a better shot on enemies.

2K

BioShock 2: OMG!!! Multiplayer on the Xbox 360 for BioShock 2 is the new hotness. The demo I saw took place at the Kashmir Restaurant and pitted six players against one another in a deathmatch. Weapons, thus far, aren’t anything new and include a pistol, shotgun and three elemental plasmids (Winter Blast, Incinerate and Electro Bolt). I just started playing through BioShock again and I kind of like the fact that it’s a single player shooter. It’s my hope that 2K reveals a multitude of multiplayer exclusive weapons. But playing as a Big Daddy is pretty damn cool in and of itself. Just be sure to find the suit before anyone else.

WB

Scribblenauts: A quirky DS game that makes you think outside the box. It’s simple, really. You have one simple task each level and that is to obtain a Starite. How you obtain it is up to you. For example, one level might have a Starite dangling from the ceiling so you have to figure out what objects you might need to get it. Type or scribble “ladder” or “lasso” and you just might have yourself a Starite. You can use anything you can think of to get the object of your desire. It’s a simple game, but probably one of the biggest titles to come to the Nintendo handheld this year.

Capcom

Lost Planet 2: More or less the same thing we saw in the first LP. I didn’t notice anything different, but that’s not to say it wasn’t fun to play. I also didn’t play for very long.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles: I can’t really say anything negative about the Darkside Chronicles. It’s a Resident Evil title and it’s good, but any other FPS besides The Conduit is pretty meh at this point.

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