Microsoft have a lot to fight for; what with the next-generation consoles being made available to the public for the first time at Gamescom, they let us have a peek of what is in-store for them on the show floor this week. The titles on offer include Ryse: Son of Rome, Kinect Sports Rivals, Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3 and of course Call Of Duty: Ghosts. I will be brutally honest here, the line-up wasn’t exactly earth shattering on the night. Granted, there were many well established franchises to play with, but only some stood out from the crowd.
It was not ready to play, but we saw a neat trailer on a new twist to the Fable universe. Fable Legends brings back the world of magic and incorporates the old child’s fantasy of having the Moon on a stick. It now exists and it is your job to find this treasured artifact. Four player co-op is now available, with each character lending itself to co-operative abilities such as freezing enemies in place so that your buddy can smash an axe through them. You can play on your own as well, with the other three slots being filled with AI. But what seems to be a run-of-the-mill co-op game has an additional twist.
A fifth player can be introduced, who plays the Villain. As you come across new quests, the Villian’s job is to prevent you from progressing through the main story arc. As the Villian, you are entrusted with the power of planning and oversight. Before the quest begins, you have a set number of monsters and other machinations at your disposal. The view from the Villian’s perspective is a top-down strategic map for mob placement such as trolls and ogres. Think of it as a tower defence layout and you get the idea. Once the quest begins, your monsters will trigger from where they were placed, and you can control them to attack players. At the end of the battle or quest objective, the adventurers or the Villian will win depending on the outcome. It is worth noting that if the Villian wins, then the four players will have to retry the quest again from a save point.
Frustrating your friends by making them fail each time will be interesting to watch, especially if done repeatedly. I sense some smashed up Xbox One controllers in the near future. Fable Legends won’t be out for Christmas 2013, so we can expect a release sometime in 2014.
Ryse: Son Of Rome
As an Xbox One exclusive, this will be one of the key titles to give some momentum to the console. Upon first look, there is no question that it appears on a grand epic scale. Roman legions charge through battle lines, with raining fireballs all around. At the heart of the game is a simple affair, mash some buttons and carry out some QTEs (Quick Time Events). A seemingly endless horde of enemies pour through, as you hack and slash your way to victory. It looks graphically engaging, even though the heart of the game is fairly simple; a Dynasty Warriors dish with some Roman sauce on top. I like Roman sauce, it’s tasty. Also men in Roman uniforms are tasty but I digress.
What can you say about the legendary series that is Killer Instinct? A personal favourite of mine, it was exciting to see this game come back from the dead once more. It’s a shame then that the pricing introduces some rather mixed feelings about this game. A total of eight characters will be playable, with Jago being free and any additional character priced at £3.99 thereafter. A grand total of around 35 quid will need to be forked out if you want all the characters and all costumes. Is it fun to play? Yes. Is it priced too highly? I think so.
There were some gripes with it as well, which I felt could have been avoided. When your character hits an Ultra combo, there is a slight pause as the animation winds up to perform the combo moves. For such a a fast-paced game, this feels slightly disjointed when the game almost pauses just so that you can see a Neo slo-mo with Sabrewulf. I mean come on, he wants to get on with those claw slashing cartwheels already. After seeing this happen four or five times in a match, it gets tiresome.
Kinect Sports Rivals
Another stab at using the Kinect for a multitude of sporting activities also includes using a face mapping tool built into the Xbox One. It take around 5 minutes to map someone’s face, it’s not a speedy process but the likeness on some of the scans I saw was quite remarkable. Once mapped, your beautiful mug will be used on a character you build, and from there you can add other customisations such as hairstyle and skin tone. This is the perfect way to give yourself a tan in a game.
The controls seems rather hit and miss, especially the rock climbing one and the Wave Race-esque jetski game. It is however more responsive than the original Kinect, so perhaps it is a case of getting used to moving your body in time and maybe there is a way to reduce the sensitivity with the Kinect versus your movement.
Call of Duty: Ghosts.
The dog dies, start crying now. Just kidding, I have no idea about the dog but Call Of Duty: Ghosts is going to be, well, Call Of Duty. We know what to expect, it will look a bit prettier and there will be some new characters to get involved with. Also the infamous CoD YouTube sensation ProSyndicate turned up at the event, I’m sure there will be some more unflattering rants against poor Ghost players when he makes a new video upon game release.