The Video Game Awards 2011

On Saturday night, all eyes were on Spike TV as it hosted it’s annual Video Game Awards. Less of an actual award show and more of a huge marketing stunt for multiple publishers, the 2011 VGAs was heavy on the random celebrity appearances and world exclusives but light on awarding achievement. Nevertheless, take the show for what it is – a good place to see new video game content – and this year’s VGAs did promise some exciting new stories. Prior to the show, companies were hyping their fans by claiming new IPs and titles were to be revealed, making us almost forget that Charlie Sheen was handing out an award (yeah, I don’t know either). And with only minutes to go, one of the big stories of the night, that being the future of Metal Gear Solid: Rising was spoilt online with news outlets managing to get early scoops thanks to the trailer leaking. It then became a matter of whether or not the newly born rumours were true.

But kicking things off were Sony and Naughty Dog whose world exclusive trailer for brand new IP, The Last of Us, sent people into a frenzy. The graphics, as you expect from such a praised developer, were stunning and later claimed to be running in real time from the PS3 for which this game is destined for. Joel and Ellie, one a middle-aged man and the other a teenage girl, are scavenging what they can from an abandoned house when they’re attacked by humans ravaged with some kind of disease. They look mutated and it’s unknown as to whether they’re zombies in the traditional sense but it sure looks like The Last of Us will fall in the zombie/survival horror genre. The end of video sees the two burst out into the street which over looks a city that has been reclaimed by nature. Think I Am Legend. But if you do, prepare to be flamed in forums because this game is proving quite divisive despite so little details. The optimists are quick to say how it’ll be the greatest thing ever with pessimists firing back with sighs of how it’s just another zombie game, ripping off Will Smith’s 2007 hit. And while I am one of those bored with zombie games who did notice similarities with I Am Legend, the important factor is that it’s being developed by Naughty Dog, a studio proven themselves to be more than capable at delivering a fantastic narrative experience. Despite a promotional campaign suggesting otherwise, Dead Island wound up being just another zombie game so it’s understandable for gamers to be concerned but Naughty Dog certainly are a studio who seriously could change the way we play these types of games.

Next up was BioWare who first showed off some more footage from Mass Effect 3 with Shepard and his crew fighting a reaper. It looked very much in-game and a great mix of action and short story sequences that is making the wait between now and March 2012 so much harder. Then came BioWare’s big new game, the next thing to come out of the studio after all this sci-fi shenanigans. And it was a sequel to an existing IP. Command and Conquer Generals 2 is the next instalment of PC real-time strategy warfare coming 2013 (unless the Mayans are right) and the trailer didn’t offer a great deal of info other than it’ll be using the Frostbite 2 engine which currently powers Battlefield 3. So at least we know it’ll look gorgeous. I’m sure RTS fans were delighted but I was a bit disappointed, not being a fan of the genre. I wasn’t expecting any particular title from BioWare but am a little surprised that they’re taking on an RTS. I presume EA are hoping the Canadian developers can sprinkle a bit of their magic onto a once forgotten off shoot of a franchise, bringing it back to profitable status. I do worry that EA are relying on BioWare a bit too much and wonder what other types of games will we be seeing in the years to come from a company whose strengths lie elsewhere. But who knows, the RTS genre could be a perfect fit for them.

The next game that caught my eye was Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, a downloadable action adventure game first mentioned back in May. Then it had no name but was definitely not Alan Wake 2 and from the looks of it, this isn’t. In AWAN, Wake is fighting against his evil double, Mr. Scratch, who is after his wife. Naturally, Wake isn’t too pleased at the idea so must stop him using the same combat mechanics as the first game where you shine light onto enemies to burn off the evil, then blow them away with a firearm. Mechanics that I really enjoyed and am really pleased are making a come back. It looks as if Remedy are taking things less seriously with this game and adding in easier to follow storyline too. The other thing about this game is how its an Arcade title instead of store release and so hopefully will be less of a financial risk for Microsoft who could of easily buried any chance of extending the franchise after the original game didn’t sell as well as it should have. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is coming early next year.

Epic announced their new game and did prefix the reveal with how it’ll be something entirely new and different from the studio. And it sure did look it. With Epic and its Unreal Engine, a certain art-style is expected but Cliff Bleszinski took to the stage of the VGAs and showed Fortnite, a cartoonish, tower defence shooter where the key is to survive. From the video showing teenage-looking kids rooting around old buildings for scrap, there’ll be a day and night cycle with the day dedicate to strengthening and building your fortress and the night spent fighting off zombies (yep, zombies). Could be interesting but tower defence and/or fortress management never quite appealed to me as it has for many others. It’s good to see Epic expanding on the fortress mechanic from Gears of War 3 however and even better that the art-style is so dramatically different for them.

The show was full of other games with the awards bunched together in montages and respectable heads of studios being T-bagged on stage by a dude in an army costume but the game that closed the show is what I’ll end this piece with. No one was sure what had happened to Metal Gear Solid: Rising after its E3 2010 showing. Konami and Kojima hadn’t said a great deal about it with many suspecting it had been canceled. Which was true, according to Andriasang but that clearly didn’t last long because the game has now been given a different title of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Gone is the Solid and storyline set between MGS2 and 4 with Revengeance now taking place after the fourth game. Platinum Games are in charge of development and Hideo Kojima will produce so expect the absurdity of Kojima’s stories and frantic action from a team who gave us Bayonetta and Vanquish. Cosmetically, Revengeance looks more like a Platinum title and moves in much the same way. Stealth is to be replaced with balls to the wall action too making the game the kind of thing fans joked about after MGS4 was released. Back in 2008, we saw Raiden change from the dorky pretty-boy of Metal Gear Solid 2 to the ultimate badass that everyone wanted to play. And soon, I heard more and more people say how cool it would be play an action game featuring the cyborg ninja. Bizarrely, in order to get that, an MGS game had to be canceled and reborn as something else. Still, I cannot wait.

Prey 2, the Boba Fett story

Human Head’s Prey 2 was announced late last week to a fanfare of “Wha?!” from gamers who thought they’d seen the last of Tommy and the sphincter corridors he navigated in the first game. Turns out they were half right. The first chunks of info have been revealed in Game Reactor and conveniently translated via one NeoGaf user who states that Tommy has been replaced by one Killian Samuels, a sheriff and prison guard. That may explain the funky get up seen in early promo imagery (seen above). Xbox 360 will be the lead SKU but a PC and PS3 version is also in the works and has been for three years using an updated version of id Tech 4.

Since Prey was, to over simplify it, Doom with portals and gravity manipulation so the guess would be that Prey 2 furthers those ideas. However the game’s producer said Kilian’s adventure is heavily inspired by Mirror’s Edge with a dash of Mass Effect, The Chronicles of Riddick and Blade Runner for good measure. It sounds as if Human Head are pulling lots of mechanics from different games because the article claims you’ll be doing battle in large scale arenas comparable to Assassin’s Creed II, utilising shadows for stealth kills or popping in and out of a Killzone or Vanquish-like cover system. The Mirror’s Edge inspiration comes from Killian’s skills in Parkour and the world is said to have the freedom of Mass Effect.

Tommy hasn’t been forgotten so to speak because Prey 2 will take place along side the first game. It begins (spoiler!) pretty much at the start of Prey 1 but has you playing as Killian rather than the stereotyped native American. Human Head gave a Star Wars analogy to the storyline saying: “If the first Prey was the Luke Sywalker version of the story, Prey 2 is Bobba Fett’s story”. So does that mean the rumours of Prey 2‘s protagonist being a bounty hunter are true also? Oh an there won’t be any multiplayer either since the developers prefer to focus on making a stella single player game instead of adding a half-baked multiplayer mode, “Who would pick the MP mode of Prey 2 ahead of the one in for example Halo Reach?” they said.

Prey 2 sounds good. Really good and draws its influence from a lot of great games. It’s not expected until some time next year which gives plenty of time for the hype to build but seeing as Prey 2 will almost definitely be providing an experience completely different from the first game, why make it a sequel and not a new IP? It’s not as if Prey was a big name in gaming back in 2006. Good yeah but not something you’d expect to receive this kind of treatment. Hey, I’m not knocking what Prey 2 could become just find it a little perplexing. But whatever, this game, regardless of its lineage, has got me already psyched for a 2012 title. Well done you!

Sega goes platinum with a new game

Sega’s partnership with Platinum Games spawned two wonderful games loved by gamers and critics alike and two decent titles that helped reign in the cash. After the four horsemen galloped into stores (yay, metaphors!) that was mean to be the end of the deal but today, Sega announced an extension to their business pairing with at least one new game in development. If Hideki Kamiya tweets something about Bayonetta 2 again I wouldn’t be surprised. Out of the first game, Vanquish, Mad World for Wii and Infinite Space for DS, Bayonetta was the most successful game from the partnership so a sequel is a strong possibility. With the story being left slightly ajar and the hack ‘n’ slash gameplay refreshingly dissimilar to other mashers thanks to the gun shoes, another game would be pretty cool. The news comes from an interview in Game Informer (via IGN) with Alan Pritchard, executive vice president of sales & marketing at Sega of America, who also confirmed that Gearbox is still very much involved with Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game that was once thought to be canceled. But with the state of recent Aliens games, I’d have to say that I’m more interested to see what Platinum Games produces over a new xenomorph shooter. Then again, Gearbox do have the talent to make something special. I mean, they’re rescuing Duke Nukem Forever and could save the Aliens video game initiative too.

Bayonetta, the early years

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Before Bayonetta was the caffeine induced trill ride that it is today, Platinum Games had a slightly slower idea in mind. Sega has released footage of an early build that, for the most part, is the same fantastic game we received in January but, the combat in the clip lacks speed and therefore a lot of its insanity. I’m glad Shinji Mikami and his team felt it necessary to ramp up the action because that level of madness seems to have become a signature characteristic for the developers and something they do very well (see also Vanquish!) Another thing for which I’m grateful is the changing or art for the menus and intro screen. It’s just nasty and while the final product may not win any awards for the UI it’s better than the dodgy fonts seen at the start of this video. But what’s most impressive is how this prototype build looks like a final game and could have been released in the state we’re seeing. I’m not sure if it would have been as fun though it does seem more playable than a lot of existing third-person action games.

{Thanks Gamesradar}

Vanquish shows off its weapons

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sega’s latest trailer for Vanquish has a distinctive Transformers vibe about it, mainly because of the morphing weapons which the video is dedicated to. As we’ve come to expect from a Platinum Games title, the whole thing is as fast as it is mental and looks so very, very cool.

Vanquish is out October 22nd on Xbox 360 and PS3.

The enemies of Vanquish

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sega have released a trailer for the mind-slapping Vanquish called ‘The enemies of Vanquish‘ showing non other than all those who stand against protagonist, Sam Gideon. After watching the trailer it’s clear that these enemies of Vanquish don’t stand a chance!

Vanquish is coming October 22nd on Xbox 360 and PS3.

It’s playtime with Vanquish special edition for UK and France

Anyone the slightest bit interested in mentalist shooter Vanquish may want to hop on over to UK online retailer Zavvi as Sega have revealed via their blog that a super special edition for both Xbox 360 and PS3 is exclusive to the e-store. Included with the game and for the princely sum of £55, you get – drum rolls please – a seven inch figurine of the game’s lead, Sam Gideon. Wait, is that it? Apparently so though when describing the SE that French consumers get, Sega mention DLC but have no other details about it. Still, thats surely a hard sell at such a price, especially when Zavvi also offer a standard version for only £34 that comes with a lenticular sleeve (gif seen after the break – it’s big so be patient!). I know which one I’ll be pre-ordering.

Continue reading