The Digitally Downloaded team spent all of last weekend playing all the upcoming games at last weekend’s EB World Expo. We’ve each put together our top five of the games from the show. Or in other words, here’s the games of the coming weeks and months that we’re looking forward to:
There was an awful lot to play with and love at this year’s EB World Expo, and in all honesty narrowing it down to just five was always going to be a challenge. But that’s the challenge that’s been set, so here’s my five to look forward to in the coming weeks and months:
Injustice Gods Among Us: What I love about the recent Mortal Kombat series has always been the real weight behind the fighting. When something hits you it feels like they’ve picked up a 10kg weight and socked you with it. That sheer brutality was always a question when it came to Injustice: were they really going to be able to do that with comic book characters?
As it turns out, they were. DC Movies have all gone through the “dim the lights up the contrast” editing and they’re all burning with generic rage now, so it makes sense that the fighting game does the same. Despite the desperate need for a rainbow level to provide some relief, watching The Flash crack a fist into Superman’s jaw is just plain awesome.
When Vikings Attack! Of all the games at the show, there was one, and only one, that I played more than once. It helped that there was no lineup whatsoever for this unheard-of little PSN title, and what is everyone else’s loss is my gain.
When Vikings Attack! Is pure and simple arcade fun. It’s the kind of game you’ll buy, play for five or so hours and love it, put it down for weeks or months, and then come back to it and play it for five or so hours again. Throwing stuff at cartoon Vikings was always going to be a party. I could tell from the demo that there would be little depth to this action (though the promise of multiplayer is interesting), but for those short bursts of fun this did more for me than anything else in recent memory.
New Super Mario Brothers Wii U: It almost seems “cool” at the moment to attack the New Super Mario Brothers games for their lack of gameplay innovation, but I actually like that about this series. The three previous games on the DS/ Wii and 3DS have featured universally brilliant level design. And now it’s in HD. It’s impossible to understate how good Mario looks in HD.
It’s a nice touch that Nintendo has used the gamepad to give non-gamers a way to join in this party, too. Nintendo wants the whole family playing its new console, and that gamepad role is the perfect way to maintain a level of challenge in the game itself, while not discouraging the non-gamers who may have been discouraged from it. Well done Nintendo.
Tomb Raider: The atmosphere of the brief time I had to play this game was palpable. Even in a noisy and hot environment, I could feel the menace pouring from the very leaves and rocks of this island – Tomb Raider’s world wants Lara Croft dead.
That Lara Croft herself manages to remain formidable in this environment is a testament to the strength of character that Square Enix has found in their rebooted gaming icon. No longer is Lara digital sexploitation. Here she’s frightened where most would be reduced to blubbering messes. She’s resourceful when the odds are stacked right against her. Lara goes through a virtual grinder in this game, and still comes out on top.
I suspect the intensity of Tomb Raider will upset a few who are used to the carefree T&A action of previous games in the series, but to me, Lara Croft has finally become a character I care about.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: For some reason I had not seen anything whatsoever about this game prior to playing it. I knew that it was… somewhat controversial with some fans for being a departure from the usual Metal Gear fare.
I really wish people would actually play games before criticising them. This has got to be the best action game I’ve played in a long time. The combat is fluid and dynamic and has a great weight to it. The variety in enemies to combat seems to be substantial. The game looks divine. The boss robot thing I battled was crazy-fun.
Metal Gear was easily the pick of the show for me, and for a very simple reason – it took an established franchise and found an interesting way to rejig the franchise while staying true to theme.
Most gamers will already know about games like Call of Duty, FarCry and Halo 4. I’m not a big fan of these mainstream titles, and from what I saw they held very true to form so I shall assume that the various fanboys have had their great moments of blowing people’s heads off and shall move onto the other, less popularised titles (which worked well for me anyway since I didn’t need to line up for four hours for these games).
Epic Mickey 2: The sequel to the first platformer has provided a 3D adventure that has this time around realised its potential. The demo takes the player through an initial level and allows Mickey to interact within an excellently rendered world. Mickey’s paint brush returns and still allows the player to add and remove structures which creates a great deal of intelligent interaction to puzzle most gamers.
This game should perform well. It is fun, has a good pedigree, with the rich cast of the Disney world being utilised as characters for the game, quality voice acting and a polished artistic performance and style, meaning this game will appeal to a large, family audience.
Tomb Raider: Yes, this game is in the throes of being heavily advertised, hyped, with all of its marvellous virtues extolled. But there is a reason for it. It looks a stunning game and from the demo, plays to match. The storyline is dark, rich and the loving way in which the developers have gone back to Croft’s story roots is admirable.
Further, the Croft costumes were once again out in force for cosplay at the event, demonstrating how well this character resonates with the audience (even if the costume is easy). This should prove to be a wonderful game. I heavily anticipate its release next year.
XCom Enemy Unknown: Strategy was woefully under-represented at the show with only a single other comparative title, but this lack of competition does not harm XCom from being a truly polished game that has me very excited indeed.
Even early on, a great deal of tactical decision making is required. Form the first mission, it forces the player to choose which countries to send their units. Individual missions, even the basic tutorial style ones, allow for a great deal of fun and work on levels that allows intricate strategies to play out. From the limited missions available in demo, the AI appears to be very intelligent and will make you work on your tactics.
The characters appear wonderfully customisable, a whole host of scientist upgrades appear possible and experience in the heat of battle is rewarded with wonderful abilities to upgrade in a large variety of ways. It is very exciting.
Unfinished Swan: This game was one of the most enjoyable surprises coming out of EB Expo 2012. Its uniqueness is as striking as its fantastic artwork.
The purpose of the game is simple. Set in a completely white world, the player must interact with the world by throwing black paint balloons. Utilising correct physics, the paint balloons fly out over the 3D world, uncovering its architectural design where it lands. With the world uncovered, the player can then begin to interact with it and try to solve the puzzles within – ultimately aiming to find a swan?
The initial level was a little slow in playing, but the game has such a wonderful originality to it that it will be well worth a try. It is a truly unique game, with stunning visuals and a refreshing sense of fun to it. For innovation purposes, it is deserving of a place in the top five games of the show.
Rayman Legends: Considering I am a big fan of the Wii, and was highly anticipating the Wii U, with a great deal of time spent at its sections, I felt entirely required to include the game that best utilised the new technology – the Wii U controller – and thus felt most innovative.
Where Rayman stands out is that the asynchronous multiplayer. Essentially the player, as Rayman, needs assistance from a friend who interacts with the world, moving logs into advantageous positions, removing grannies riding motorbikes and otherwise manipulating the 2D world of Rayman and navigate through mazes.
It is an impressive use of motion and co-operative gameplay and means that the full Rayman experience requires a mutliplayer session or two. Further,even the demo requires some slip second timing and so we have high hopes for the challenge level of this one.
In all, Rayman seems to highlight what the Nintendo reps have been selling the WiiU console on – that it is an entirely new experience. It is fun, it is enjoyable and I look forwards to playing more of it soon.
Scribblenauts Unlimited: To kick off my top five is a game that really captured my imagination, literally! If you can imagine something then you can create it with this game’s inbuilt dictionary. After a couple of tries of the demo for this game I began to realise how far you could push it. If someone asks you to cut down a tree you could make an axe if you wanted but isn’t it that much more fun to use a pink and blue polka dot bull dozer? Or you could take it in another direction and pay homage to Monty Python by cutting down the tree with a herring.
The Last Of Us: Whilst this is the only game on my list that I didn’t actually get a chance to play, the trailer and demonstration did enough to leave me wanting more. In this hyper-realistic post-apocalyptic survival game you need to make every bullet count as you fight fungal-infected humans and other hostile survivors. The game revolves around a father-daughter-type relationship in which you control the father figure of Joel and the AI controls Ellie the 14 year old girl. Judging by the level of violence in the gameplay demo this game may be one of the first to benefit from the new R18+ ratings coming in next year.
The Unfinished Swan: This title was my stylistic choice for the expo. It starts off as a completely white world where you fire black globs of paint around to display where the objects are around you. It is hard to imagine without seeing the gameplay in action so I would definitely recommend checking it out. While you only play the first section of the game, later levels include some colour and you fire different colours of paint. The soundtrack features ominous music and it is yet to be seen if it includes some horror elements in later levels which would in my opinion be a great fit.
ZombiU: I must admit that from what I had seen of the Wii U pre-expo I wasn’t expecting much from it and for the most part that didn’t change. Sure there were a couple of titles that used it reasonably well (Scribblenauts Unlimited and Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition) but as a whole it didn’t really improve on the Wii that much. This was until I played ZombiU. This FPS survival game has some great features including permanent death whereby if you die, your character becomes a zombie and you start as a new character who can kill your old character to reclaim your gear. Another nice feature is the backpack and looting screen which will appear on your Wii U screen but not the TV screen and it doesn’t pause the game either so you could be ambushed whilst looting.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Lastly we have the latest addition to the Metal Gear series in which players get to use the fluid slow motion cutting system to either target specific armour weaknesses, avoid hostage casualties, or disable opponents. Zan-datsu (“cut and take”) a new gameplay feature that allows you to cut open and take objects from dismembered cyborgs including weapons, ammo and energy. This