Tuesday, 26 February 2008

GDC Picks

Despite the fact that GDC is a conference for ‘game developers’ to discuss the ins and outs of development yet again the games taken over causing havoc like a drunk uncle in a china store. As well as the numerous talks and panels GDC was also the stage for a number of announcements and an opportunity for developers to show off their latest projects. To ease my boredom For your entertainment I have compiled my picks of the show;

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

Puzzle quest was easily the most addictive game of 2007; it combined the simple gameplay of bejeweled with all the character development systems of an RPG. Infinite Interactive announced that they were working on a new Puzzle Quest title. Instead of simply releasing an incremental update and then watching the money roll in Infinite Interactive has taken the ‘cousin’ to the original game in a new direction, they’ve ditched the medieval theme in favor of a sci-fi décor. The most exciting part of Galactrix is the way in which it is trying to differentiate itself from Bejeweled and the original Puzzle Quest. Instead of the played out square board Galaxtrix features a hex board where matches are no longer limited to two axis, the player can now match tiles on six axis. To compliment this the gems now fall from the direction that the match has occurred in, by no longer forcing gems to fall from the top of the board it provides an opportunity for a far more tactical game. Puzzle Quest Galactrix adds depth to the gameplay by placing heavy focus on ships; the player can acquire a variety of ships each with their own classes, abilities and attributes, these ships can then be used in a battles to suit the players own style. It’s good to see Infinite Interactive taking the game in a new direction, and I can’t wait to play it.


APB came out as the most talked about game of GDC, developed by Realtime Worlds (the team that gave us Crackdown) on the surface it looks just like a run of the mill MMORPG but it has the potential to be so much more, David Jones from Realtime Worlds shows the mission statement driving the game through his reference to the game as a ‘Multiplayer Online Game’ as opposed to a MMORPG. From what they’ve shown it’s a refinement of the genre, by taking all that makes MMORPG’s fun to play and weeding out all the level grinding and unfulfilling quests APB is shaping up to be an online RPG that you can have fun in without devoting every waking moment to.
At the event Realtime Worlds showed off the most detailed character editor I’ve ever seen in a game, unlike the usual restriction that character creation mechanics have APB allows the player to tweak every aspect of the character to the point that they can create characters modeled after real people, sure other games have claimed to be able to do this but APB is probably the first game to be able to pull it off properly. David Jones showed of detailed and accurate character models based on well known developers Richard Garriot, Warren Specter, Peter Molyneux and Shigeru Miyamoto.

The gameplay of APB is very much influenced by Crackdown, except without the superhuman abilities, the players take the role of either cops or robbers and can roam the city freely until they commit a crime, when they commit the crime an APB is issued to all local officers, the APB is delivered through a dynamic match making system, when a crime is committed the APB is issued to enforces that are of equal skill level, or a few experienced players against a large group of new players, the dynamic matchmaking always ensures that the matchups are equal. Although I’m not a big fan on the MMO genre (mainly because I don’t want to become addicted, I’ve seen what WoW can do to people) this is a game that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on.


Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was a great open-world game but unfortunately it was underappreciated, lucky for us Radical Entertainment hasn’t let that stop them, their next project takes the same gameplay improves on it in ‘Prototype’. The game features the same high jumping, building destroying, car throwing mechanics from Ultimate Destruction but adds some new gameplay elements into the mix. As a ‘prototype’ you are able to absorb people and assume their forms as well as gain their abilities.
After throwing a few cars around and shooting up some military property the player can find an every-day Joe Shmo, absorb him, shape shift into him and then walk away right under the enemies nose. Much like Ultimate Destruction the main aim of the game is to break into military strongholds and ‘liberate’ information about your situation, and pick up some upgrades along the way. Although there hasn’t been much revealed on the story of the game, other than ‘you’re an escaped government experiment that’s lost his memory but can kick some serious ass’, the story is intriguing, firstly through the actual plot and secondly through the way that it can progress in a non linear fashion, the game has a number of key people or points that need to be reached but it is up to the player in which order they approach them. There hasn’t been a lot of information given on the game but that doesn’t stop me from getting excited if only for the chance to play what is Hulk: Ultimate Destruction 2.

And then there's Gears of War 2, since the only thing they showed was Marcus having a chainsaw battle with a Locust there isn't much to say on the game other than, yeah, Gears Of War 2...we all knew it was going to happen.

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