EIDOS was putting on their trademark awesome show with plenty of games and of course the wild and crazy stageshows. This year Lara Croft was out and Backyard Wrestling was in. A huge boxing ring dominated their booth and instead of sitting on Lara's motorcycle you could get your picture taken with a variety of male and female wrestlers. Nearly a dozen games were on display, so many in fact it took me two visits to see them all. Of course the biggest news was the just announced, Hitman 3, which was only being shown in the form of a poster.
Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home (PS2/Xbox)
Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home promises to appeal to the hardcore wrestling gaming market as well as emerging casual gamer market places. It places gamers in the role of an up-and-coming backyard wrestler. Each player’s success is based on his ability to use and abuse the environment as well as his opponent. With each win, wrestlers move one step closer to the ultimate goal, being crowned "The King of Hardcore.”
Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home will offer an extensive list of features taking gamers beyond traditional restrictions of the wrestling genre. Objective-based gameplay will allow for unique level progression and access to unlockable tasks, characters, and bonus video materials. Gamers will find the Backyard Wrestling world fully interactive and wonderfully destructible, allowing them to re-arrange more than just their opponent's face. The game's multi-faceted and multi-tiered environments will give players the opportunity to truly use their surroundings. For example, gamers will be able to hurl themselves off ladders, rooftops and cars in order to maximize pain on the opponent. The innovative damage model system will allow the characters to show progressive damage inflicted to their bodies depending on what type of hits they've been exposed to.
In addition to the innovative single player experience, Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home features a hardcore two-player mode where players will match not only brawn, but brains as well. Gamers must also utilize the environments to ultimately place their opponent in a world of pain.
Commandos 3: Destination Berlin (PC)
Several of the characters from the previous game have since retired giving you a new group of soldiers to master along with a few friendly faces. The gameplay has been totally redesigned with smaller maps allowing for much greater detail and action-oriented missions. The story is much stronger this time and told through excellent cutscenes and scripted events.
During my demo I was trapped in a city during an air raid. You could hear the planes overhead and see their shadows streak across the ground as buildings erupted in flames, smoke and a shower of rubble. By the time the raid was over the entire city was decimated. It was so realistic I was literally out of breath.
Commandos 3 will include historic WWII campaigns all across Europe from the Eastern front of Salingrade to the Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin. For you Private Ryan fans you will even get to take part in the D-Day assault on Omaha Beach. While other games have recreated this historic moment, Pyro Studios has managed to capture the event with incredible intensity.
Master complex tactics like stealth, sabotage, demolitions, and ambushes in both battlefield and indoor situations. The singple player missions are complimented with a robust multiplayer mode for up to 8 players on LAN or the Internet. Prepare to enlist when Commandos 3 releases this Summer.
Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC/Xbox)
In Deus Ex: Invisible War players create a compelling alter ego through the selection of futuristic bio-tech modifications, powerful weapons and hundreds of useful objects. As in the revolutionary Deus Ex game, character choices, weapons and object use work in combination with a richly interactive world to give players freedom to solve game problems the way they want to, rather than the way the designers want them to. Gamers can fight, sneak, talk or hack your way past any problem encountered and every situation can be dealt with in a variety of ways.
That freedom to choose a play style set Deus Ex apart from other games and Deus Ex: Invisble War takes the idea further. The game features a more powerful physics system, startlingly believable AI, dramatically enhanced character modeling and animation, a groundbreaking sound propagation system and state-of-the art lighting and graphics. When working together, all the features create a real-world experience unprecedented in gaming.
Legacy of Kain: Defiance (PS2/Xbox)
I had a chance to sit down with Amy Hennig, project director of Crystal Dynamics for an in-depth demo of this new title, and even at this early stage of development the game is showing amazing potential. Here is what Amy had to say about Defiance. “With Legacy of Kain: Defiance, we are taking the series in a new direction, emphasizing heroic action while still preserving the game’s compelling story and adventure elements. Reuniting the series under a new banner, Legacy of Kain: Defiance features both Kain and Raziel as playable characters, their stories intertwining as they confront hordes of enemies in fierce, fast-paced battles. Our innovative new combat system emphasizes intuitive controls, over-the-top attacks and combos, powerful telekinetic assaults, and visceral finishing moves which draw from our heroes’ dark, vampiric natures.”
The new combat system is amazingly responsive and satisfying (in an evil way), allowing for non-stop action and thrilling combo moves unique to each character. The inclusion of the new “telekinesis” feature will play a fundamental role in not only deepening the combat system, but level and puzzle progression as well. Visceral and sinister feeding events take these brothers in blood back to their dark and twisted roots, as they must devour the blood and souls of hordes of human, demonic and undead foes to satisfy their hideous appetites.
The Italian Job (PS2/Xbox/GameCube)
I got to play this game for about 15 minutes and it was a blast. The control (on the GameCube version that I played) was flawless and I was tearing through downtown LA at dangerous speed in my Mini Cooper. There will be 10 vehicles you can drive through 7 stunt courses and 10 speed tracks in addition to the 15-mission story mode. An intense two-player mode completes this racing package. See the movie then play the game this Summer.
In this chapter of Thief, gamers once again take on the role of Garrett, a master thief who is rarely seen, never caught and capable of breaking into the most ingeniously secured places. Garrett steals from the wealthy and gives to himself, making his living in the dark and foreboding City. Although Garrett would prefer to be left alone to ply his trade, the prophecies of an impending Dark Age dictate a different plan for the thief. In his efforts to prevent the Dark Age, Garrett has inadvertently roused an ancient, hidden evil. Garrett finds himself without allies, standing alone between the City and the forces that would crush it.
An innovative new key feature in Thief is "body awareness," which gives players the ability to see their hands and feet while climbing walls, leaning over ledges, and picking locks. Working hand-in-hand with body awareness is Ion Storm's dynamic lighting system. Garrett can manipulate the light and shadows real-time to his own advantage, creating entirely new stealth opportunities.
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (PC/PS2)
As you may already know if you have been following the hype for the past year, Angel of Darkness takes Lara into new territory, both in gameplay and the entire mood of the game. Everything is much darker now. Lara is wrongly accused of murder and is on the run throughout much of the game. Weapons combat has moved to the background allowing for much more physical interaction with the enemy and stealth is a major part of the gameplay now.
Several new concepts make their way into this next chapter of the Lara Croft saga. A new RPG-like stat system that lets Lara build up various attributes such as jumping, thinking, strength, etc. You can now talk to characters using a branching conversation tree that will affect the path you take through the game. Lara has all-new moves and the grid-based movement is gone, totally replaced with a true analog movement system and more than 250 new animations (10x more than previously).
You'll get to explore wonderous environments ranging from the streets of Paris to the back alleys of Prague and even get to team up with a new character, Kurtis Trent, who become playable with his own set of moves and style of gameplay.