e3 2011 preview

Assassins Creed: Revelations

Assassins Creed has become an important series for the current generation of gaming consoles. While many have assumed that annual releases would over saturate the exposure of the franchise, Ubisoft has shown that they can refine the gameplay of the series while weaving an intense and engaging story for fans to enjoy. The newest incarnation, Assassins Creed: Revelations, looks to be another huge hit for Ubisoft. At E3, I was lucky enough to receive an exclusive demo of Assassins Creed: Revelations.

Picking up right after the cliffhanger ending of Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Desmond Miles is stuck in a coma from the effects of the Animus and must continue to relive the memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore de Firenze in hopes of eventually awaking. Ezio himself is now a master assassin nearing the end of his lifelong battles with the Templars. His quest brings him to Constantinople about five years after the close of Brotherhood. My demo began with the a demonstration of Ezio’s new weapons. Smoke bombs are still in, but now Ezio can eventually upgrade his bombs to be much more deadly. After targeting a pair of guards, Ezio killed both with a single well placed explosive. As a group of guards ran through the town square to see what all the commotion was about, Ezio scaled the side of a building to escape. Using his new hook blade, Ezio was able to reach much higher ledges than when he just used the climbing glove in Assassins Creed: Brotherhood. Once he reached the roof the building, Ezio used the hook blade to zip-line down a rope to the other side of the town.

While Ezio had managed to escape the guards for the moment, the city security was now aware that an assassin was in their midst. By raising a massive chain across the port of entry, the city guards blockaded the waterways making Ezio’s escape nearly impossible. An explosive at the base of the chain took care of the blockade, but also reduced a portion of the city to rubble. Ezio scaled the rigging of a nearby ship and found a flamethrower mounted to the bow. After a minute or two of sustained flames, the docked enemy fleet was in ruin. A well placed cannonball destroyed the flamethrower and forced Ezio to desert the sinking ship. Dodging flying debris, Ezio jumped from ship to ship before finally reaching his own ship. As Ezio’s ship sailed out of the bay, I was treated to a panoramic view of the destruction Ezio left in his wake. Ezio may be old and nearing the end of his Assassins Creed story, but he is more deadly and effective than ever.

As Ezio’s portion of the demo came to a close, I was led into another area of the demo room which held a pair of Animus chairs. After sitting down, I was treated to a frustratingly short teaser of Desmond’s experience in Assassins Creed: Revelations. Since Desmond is now stuck in a sort of Animus limbo, the teaser showed large geometric buildings appearing in the empty spaces of the Animus loading area. As Desmond looked skyward, now sporting a black hoodie and white t-shirt, the teaser came to an end. Looks like we’ll have to wait until November 15, 2011 to see how it all ends.

For more details on Assassins Creed: Revelations and to see a developer commentary video of the demo, visit: www.assassinscreed.com and www.facebook.com/assassinscreed.

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War of the Worlds (XBLA, PSN)

It is sad to think that there are some people who only know War of the Worlds from Steven Spielberg’s remake that was released in 2005. But the story goes much deeper than that film. There was also a film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel from 1953, which tells a different story. It is this version for which Paramount Digital Entertainment and Other Ocean Entertainment will be adapting a new downloadable game with the same name, War of the Worlds.

Developed using all 2D sprites, this new War of the Worlds is looking to challenge your understanding of 1950s London, and still have that old-school feel that Other Ocean is known for. During the demo that I was in, the game felt like Limbo in art direction, but more realistic in gameplay. There is a heavy evasion mechanic used, similar to ones used in 2D platformers of the past (think Prince of Persia, Flashback or Out of this World). The level that the guys from Other Ocean showed was both challenging and visually interesting.

War of the Worlds (XBLA, PSN)The alien invasion is destroying the hearts and minds of the people as well as London itself. In the level that was shown, you had to traverse some tunnels and hills through a part of London that is adapted from reality. The laser beams from the spacecrafts had a distinct noise that they made, allowing an audio cue to keep you from getting killed. Don’t get me wrong though, War of The Worlds looks challenging in its early state. A huge boss battle/puzzle ended the demo with a bang, but definitely left me wanting to see more.

Another aspect of the game that Paramount was showing off was the narration done by the one and only, Sir Patrick Stewart. The inclusion of him as the main character is huge for this title. I was more engrossed in the game listening to him trying to describe what was happening in the character’s head. The second they told us about it, the guys leading the demo had smiles from ear to ear because they know the power that brings to their game.

War of the Worlds (XBLA, PSN)As the game goes on, you will be given newer challenges, but the whole goal is for you to find and rescue your brother and fiancé. This is the motivation for doing death-defying feats throughout the dozen or so levels. The combination of sight, sound and high tension definitely make this game one to watch. War of The Worlds is coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network this year.

See more of our E3 2011 news here and follow GamingBits on Twitter for more.

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TopWare Interactive E3 2011

TopWare Interactive has quite a lineup in the works for gamers in 2011 to 2012. Many of TopWare’s games will be available across different platforms, and will be getting special collector’s edition releases. Read on for details on a few of the games I was given a preview of at E3 2011.

Among the first new game offerings from TopWare Interactive is the expansion for Two Worlds II, titled Pirates of the Flying Fortress. The gameplay and bits of the characters I saw looked great, which you can read and see screenshots of here. Developers Reality Pump Studios have further improved game elements and upped the graphics yet again, and TopWare Interactive will be offering an all new Two Worlds II Velvet Box Game of the Year Edition for its release. I’m definitely looking forward to this expansion and highly recommend the GotY Velvet Box Edition for those who have missed out on Two Worlds II.

Check vs. MateIf you’re wondering what happened to the release of Battle vs. Chess in North America, turns out the game had to undergo a name change due to similarity between the name of Interplay’s Battle Chess game. Interplay won a copyright infringement case against TopWare Interactive for the similar title. The name of the game in North America is now called Check vs. Mate and will be released in September 2011. Check vs. Mate builds upon the classic game of chess, and dresses it up with unique armies and environments. When opponents engage each other, a battlefield is presented where players may be able to turn the tide on the traditional rules of chess (though it won’t be easy). Players who remember Archon will appreciate that element. The AI uses what is called the “Fritz chess algorithm,” which offers 10 levels of difficulty. Check vs. Mate looks like a great way to introduce chess to another generation of players. Check vs. Mate is planned for release across just about every platform, including PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, and PSP. An Elite Edition will be available as well (platforms and contents TBA). Keep a lookout for more on Check vs. Mate at the official website at www.checkvsmate.com.

Raven's Cry (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)Pirates seem to be working their way into many games and films nowadays, but TopWare Interactive and developer Octane Games are introducing a dark tale that represents pirates for the true way that they were. Raven’s Cry: is an upcoming third-person action-RPG. Players are cast as Christopher Raven in the 17th century. Christopher is on a blood thirsty quest of vengeance after being the sole survivor of a pirate attack and the murder of his family. Players will see the transformation of the anti-hero as the game progresses, with his soul sinking deeper along the way. The game takes place in regions such as Jamaica to South American jungles. Weaponry in Raven’s Cry will be historically accurate.

Raven's Cry (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)The gameplay hack n’ slash perspective looks similar to games like Torchlight and Diablo, but a couple of other gameplay modes will include controlling your pirate ship in battles and navigating the world map. Raven’s Cry looks like an ambitious title, set to break the modern-day stereotype of jolly pirates.

Raven’s Cry is currently estimated for a Q2 2012 release for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. A Raven’s Cry Treasure Chest collector’s edition is planned for release, with contents TBA. See screenshots and concept art of Raven’s Cry here.

Scivelation (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)Scivelation is a new game for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC from developer Black Wing Foundation. The game appears along early development, but from what has been revealed on the plot and concept art, Scivelation sounds like a unique game to keep on your radar. Scivelation is a third-person stealth action game, which takes place in a future dystopian society, following the collapse of the world. A world government called the Regime controls the populace, where good and evil no longer exist. Of course, there is a Resistance that seeks to uproot the Regime, seeking Paradise for freedom and freewill. Players assume the role of two characters: Mikhail Ivanov, Resistance captain, and Elisha Amano, Regime scientist. Scivelation sounds somewhat like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the Metal Gear series, where cybernetics and gene therapy make for human augmentation. Some of the tactical powers noted include cloaking, holographic projection, psychic scouting, and more. Scivelation uses the Unreal 3 Engine, so you can bet the environments will be detailed.

Scivelation (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)See the first stunning concept art from Scivelation here. TopWare Interactive is planning to release a game trailer shortly, so keep a lookout for it. You can see some game screenshots here on the Topware.de website. Scivelation is estimated for a Q2 2012 release and will be offered as a standard edition as well as a collector’s “Omega Edition” (contents to be revealed).

For more details on Scivelation, visit www.scivelation.com.

TopWare Interactive has a diverse lineup planned and is growing as a game publisher. Be sure to keep a lookout on their upcoming game lineup through 2012. We’ll be bringing you updates to their games as more details are released.

See our E3 2011 news here and follow GamingBits on Twitter for more.

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Silent Hill: Downpour

Konami showcased its next upcoming Silent Hill game, Silent Hill: Downpour (PS3, Xbox 360) at E3 2011. Silent Hill: Downpour presents an all-new storyline, which takes place in an unexplored region of the infamous Silent Hill. The version I had hands-on time was the PlayStation 3 3D enabled release.

I’ve been somewhat detached from the Silent Hill series since the early installments of the game. In this eighth part of the series, I felt my experience may keep me from appreciating or understanding Silent Hill: Downpour. Luckily I had the opportunity for some hands-on time and was taken away by what I experienced. If you’re looking to return to the Silent Hill series, Silent Hill: Downpour is it.

In Silent Hill: Downpour, players assume the role of Murphy Pendleton, a criminal on his way to a maximum security prison. Fortunately for Murphy, an accident on route to the prison allows him to make a break for it. Unfortunately for Murphy, he stumbles into the town of Silent Hill. The elemental theme of the game, as the title suggests, is water. In the PS3 3D version I played, the rainy outdoor environments were layered with depth. But besides the obvious rain element, at least one other instance of the water theme was present when trying to put out a fire. As a disjointed, unsettling fire alarm sound was going off, a sprinkler system I activated soon went out of control and became a flood. The transitions happen seamlessly and have a profound effect on what seems to be real or unreal. One scene had Murphy running up a staircase of one of these Otherworld environments, which seemed never-ending. Expect a lot of changes in the environments, between the “Normal” world and “Otherworld,” especially when it comes to Murphy’s interaction with water.

Silent Hill: Downpour felt somewhat akin to Alan Wake. Maybe it was the appearance of the lead character or the play of light and dark in the foggy forest setting. But Vatra Studios, the game developers, confirmed that Alan Wake did influence Silent Hill: Downpour, just as Silent Hill may have influenced Alan Wake. The pacing did feel eerily similar as well. But Silent Hill: Downpour’s protagonist is very different from the writer Alan Wake. Lead character Murphy is described as an evil criminal and as Silent Hill runs deep into his psyche, expect some disturbing manifestations. The developer hinted at the return of Pyramid Head, one of the signature characters in the Silent Hill series, as well.

Silent Hill: Downpour (PS3, Xbox 360)Silent Hill: Downpour turned out to be a pleasant surprise and will definitely be taking me back to the series. Silent Hill: Downpour will be available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from Konami in October 2011.

See some of the latest screenshots from Silent Hill: Downpour here. For more details on Silent Hill: Downpour, visit the official website at www.konami.com/silenthill.

See our E3 2011 news here and follow GamingBits on Twitter for more.

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AMY (PS3 PSN)

Game developer Lexis Numérique is crafting a unique survival horror experience for the PlayStation 3. AMY is a survival horror game headed to the PlayStation Network soon (estimated September 2011). What is unique about AMY is the unusual pairing and interaction of Lana, the protagonist, and Amy, an eight-year-old autistic girl. AMY is set in the year 2034 and takes place in a midwestern town. A virus is unleashed when a comet crashes and infects just about everyone. Lead character Lana is infected, but can sustain the infection when Amy is near or within sight. Why Amy isn’t infected is a mystery.

AMY (PS3 PSN)Djamil Kemal from Lexis Numérique walked me through a gameplay preview demo of AMY on the PS3. AMY is a steadily paced third-person game, more like Silent Hill and Alan Wake games than the heavy combat action of the latest Resident Evil 5. A feeling of trepidation is what the developers are looking for gamers to connect with the characters in AMY. You could see the hesitation in Amy from her movement and facial expressions. Amy never speaks throughout the game, so her feelings are carefully crafted for visual interpretation. The tension and cautiousness from Lana is also expressed by her head movements and eyes constantly scanning the area. Lana isn’t the stiff-necked heroine as seen in many games nowadays. Another method that expresses the tension from Lana is from the PS3 rumble feedback, when holding hands with Amy. I briefly controlled Lana when following a trail of blood, which led to an ever increasing heartlike thump on the PS3 controller. As I approached the door, Djamil quickly interrupted “no, don’t!” because clearly I was too curious to see what was behind the door (which could have brought the demo to an abrupt end). These kind of encounters need to be gauged with care. Players will need to decide when its right to fight or flight from the infected horde.

AMY (PS3 PSN)Care must be taken, as the lives of both Lana and Amy are at stake and represented as being frail. If Lana strays too far from Amy, you can see the virus overtaking Lana by the appearance of darkening veins. Being infected for a bit does confuse the monstrous horde that you are one of them. Amy’s size helps in navigating stealthily through some environments. As Lana, players can also direct Amy to open doors or fetch things.

The environments of AMY are dark and mysterious. Horde creatures are pretty creepy in of themselves. The details in AMY make this look like a retail game release, but it will be available for download from the PSN. Lexis Numérique wants to make the game accessible at a low price point, something Djamil expressed to me as part of their decision to releasing on the PlayStation Network. The pacing, unique characters and freaky environments had me sold on AMY. It is a PSN game you will want to lookout for, especially for those who enjoy well paced survival horror games. AMY was originally estimated for a June 2011 release, but is currently estimated for a September 2011 for some fine tuning before its release.

For more details on AMY and its release, visit the official facebook page here or lexis-games.com.

See our E3 2011 news here and follow GamingBits on Twitter for more.

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