Gamescom Catch Up – Activision

It should come as no surprise that Activision Blizzard’s space at Gamescom was vast. With Activision titles lining the left and Blizzard on the right, I paid multiple visits to their ‘booth’, which was constantly buzzing with activity.

All of my time was spent with Activision’s offerings (no Star Craft for me) but this didn’t stop me seeing a total seven titles (though I admit Wappy Dog was an act of mercy as I saw the pleading eyes of the lonely guy demoing it). In line with their slick well produced games so too was their show, with only the Modern Warfare 3 area spiralling out of control as mobs of journalists waited for delayed appointments. I had to feel for those running it, with all the interest around the game and it must have been impossible keep to a time table as the game attracted hordes of not only enthusiast press but also mainstream media.

Yup, more Gamescom, get used to it for a bit.

Despite the long held opinion many gamers of Activision as a corporate giant whose only measure of success is financial, it was hard to connect these views what I was seeing. Passionate developers making products they believed in, some building on what had gone before, but all creative and driven.

My newfound appreciation of the company did not find its source in the charismatic PR, delicious cakes or coffee; it found itself in the conviction of the people making the games. True, the company often makes harsh cuts, but that is the reality of business and looking at the quality of the products on show Activision certainly seems to have an knack for inspiring creative minds.

Modern Warfare 3

If you were to meet me and really get me going on the MW franchise I probably wouldn’t have many nice things to say about it, but playing this short segment, devoid of the usual hype and bravado that accompanies each games release I have to confess I have not given the series enough credit. Battling through the increasingly difficult waves I confess to being impressed. Starting with regular troops before escalating through attack dog, helicopters and infantry with state of the art armour and weapons. Each wave was preceded by radio reports allowing equipping my self appropriately. The final battle saw my partner and I, along with my two-sentry guns decimating all in our path. It was incredibly satisfying.

Though I am not a huge fan of the series it is hard to deny its quality and polish.

Call of Duty Elite

The huge crux of the service will be how much is locked behind the pay wall. With a basic (free) and premium (paid) version of Elite available from launch it will be interesting to see just what extra value there will be to paying. With most the features outlined here available in the free version (in some capacity) as social site Elite will no doubt prove incredibly popular, but only time will tell if it will prove profitable.

Heat maps proved surprisingly interesting, with some clear applications for players.

X-Men Destiny

X-Men Destiny is in many ways, a coming of age story. A tale of a young mutant at a pivotal point in their live as they decide who they will be. Along the way they will meet members of both the X-Men and the Brotherhood and choose who to help, decisions that will branch their path and strengthens allegiances moving towards the end of the game, when eventually one or the other will be joined. Perhaps it doesn’t look as polished as it could, but it does play well and has a number of interesting gameplay elements.

It may say something about me that the game I want most was the one that looked the worst of those on show.

Spiderman: Edge of Time

Developer Beenox have scaled back slightly from four Spidies to two with Edge of Time which sees Amazing Spiderman and Spiderman 2099 brought together to battle Walter Sloan (voiced by Val Kilmer). Sloan has travelled back in time to shape the future to his own design, and kill Amazing Spiderman, the effects of which are being felt by Spiderman 2099. It is an original story written by Peter David set in a new timeline, allowing for more versatility than has been seen previous Spiderman games.

Fun, if it will stay that way I don't know. More city swinging would be appreciated too.

Prototype 2

Dismemberment and violence was so over the top it bordered on comical but the appeal (as Heller’s creeping black body parts morphed from hammers, to shields to claws before pouncing across an arena) was hard to deny. The demonstrator proceeded to sprint up the side of a building before launching in to the air and gliding across the city towards two helicopters. Upper cutting one, Heller then jumped onto the other and was given the choice of hijacking it or weaponising parts of it. Ripping a rocket launcher from the crafts body and unleashed its contents on troops around him. Violent, gruesome and (I am kind of ashamed to say) entertaining the apparent responsiveness and speed of the action was thrilling to watch.

Just a video, and still a long way from release, still Prototype 2 looked a lot of fun.

GoldenEye: 007 Reloaded

GoldenEye: 007 Reloaded is going to cash in on many older players nostalgia for the N64 title that it apes only slightly. It retains some of the feel of the game it takes it name from, but it is players how had the Wii version who real really get a sense of déjà vu with this being almost exactly the same game bar improved visuals, MI6 and online options. The problem is that while it looks better than its Wii predecessor it still looks noticeably more rigid than what most HD gamers have come to expect making it a hard sell in the overcrowded FPS market.

Playing this multiplayer just the other day on Wii made me realise how much I want GoldenEye.

Wappy Dog

Both game and toy of Wappy Dog interact wonderfully, and I have to confess it is frankly quite charming. It is not hard to see why Activision are receiving such positive responses from the children they showing it to. As a big box Christmas present, Wappy certainly is a lot cuter than most games and (as I am sure most parents will be happy to hear) at fifty pounds with the dog its price stays in line with most other of the big holiday releases.

Say hello to Wappy Dog, your kids new best friend. Until a new one comes out next year that is.

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