A shamefully early night and an all-you-can-eat meal buffet later, we managed to recover from the all-day hangover that Tuesday gifted us with. Heading out early to the hall, we quickly realised just how bloody massive this place is - and busy too, despite it being a special 'quiet day' for press and traders. We're dreading tomorrow when 30,000 sweaty German nerds are going to flood the place, making it almost impossible for us poor struggling journos to get a go on anything - but we'll have to struggle through regardless.
Inbetween running frantically between booths and scamming as much free coffee as we could out of various press bars, we managed to actually play some games. Here's what we saw:
"Why lie on the floor when you can shoot people in the face instead?"
Crushingly, we didn't get that hands-on with the 64-player carnage fest we were after - too busy, as it turns out. But we did manage to engage in some co-op with a hapless Guardian journo who kept dying under enemy sniper fire. Cracking stuff - combat is brisk, frenetic and exciting, especially when you're trying to drag a bleeding team mate across the street. Although next time we might just go at it alone.
Street's taken a move away from the cartoonised, fantasy elements of previous titles in the series and is focusing on delivering a simulation of street football. The team behind the main FIFA titles, and the engine of same, have been put to work delivering a more realistic representation with wall-play, tricks, and more skill than is perhaps strictly necessary. Whether the shift to a more realistic style is a good idea we're not certain - but the game remains unquestionably good fun. More ball control than ever before (including full 360 degree control whilst standing still, just to fuck with defenders) and the ability to nutmeg and panna the ball over and through opponents make it a treat to play, even in this early stage.
In addition to the plethora of new modes and details - adaptive defence, persistent injuries, and full player collision capability - EA Sports have put a load of effort into making online play accessible and fun. The ten-tier league mode gives you something to aspire to, with cups and unique challenges at every level, and it looks to limit rage quitting by penalising jerks who leave early because the game isn't going their way. At the moment it only takes away their points, but we're hoping some form of electrocution is unlockable in the final game.
If that's all too much for you, organising Friendlies with (appropriately) your friends is easier than ever, and has a neat little system for keeping score between everyone you know and play with. It's still just football, obviously, but it's one of the best games of football you'll play without going down to the park.
The new name for Smackdown vs Raw brings everything we'd expect from a top of the line wrestlin' title - big sweaty men in lycra colliding with each other in a not particularly fluid way. It's been simplified from previous editions, mapping throws and holds back on to the face buttons (where they BELONG, damnit) and introducing plenty of button-bashing contests between you and whichever sweaty man you're attempting to subdue.
The create a character mode is, of course, excellent - in our short time available we managed to construct a fairly accurate Obelix from the Asterix comics, called him "The Deadly Frenchman" (which was shouted out when he arrived via a soundboard option) and had him sit on John Cena's smarmy face. Nice.
We saw Darksiders 2 a couple of weeks ago at Comic Con, and in an unusual move we actually saw less this time than we did previously. Death, rather than War, is at the helm (we're looking forward to watching Pestilence go around coughing on people in Darksiders 3 and Hunger taking away everyone's lunch in Darksiders 4) and he brings with him a pair of matched scythes, a massive hammer, and some throwing daggers in addition to some other weapons.
"How many other weapons?" we asked. "Loads!" Said the THQ guy in the booth. "So, uh, how many is loads? Can you give us a rough number?" We eventually managed to wrestle that there will be definitely "more than 5" weapons in the final game, which - well - isn't "loads", is it? Hopefully they'll become less coy about their God-of-War alike as we draw closer to release in 2012.
A building, to scale..
Metro: Last Light
Plenty Russian Post-Apocalyptic Survival Horror Shooting in this underground-based murder fest. You'll take control of the chap from the first game and lead him on a series of missions underground in an attempt to wrest control of parts of the Moscow underground following a worldwide nuclear war that made the surface of the earth uninhabitable. Light plays a big part in the game - we saw lightbulbs being removed, spotlights being shot out, and campfires doused with water in an attempt to sneak past guards undetected - although the guy playing then opened up with a massive (and very loud) gatling gun and blew everyone to pieces. Seemed a shame, really.
We're looking forward to seeing more of the emergent stealth gameplay and chunky improvised weapons, and while there is due to be multiplayer content developers 4A are keeping extremely tight-lipped about any details therein. Presumably there will be a mode where you kill each other. We'll have to wait and see.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier
Clearly a contender for Longest Name in Show, this is another title in the line of near-future shooters endorsed by that bloke who writes books about guns. The action looks fairly generic (aside from a nifty adaptive camouflage system that lets you sneak up on unsuspecting baddies) but the real selling point for us is a really beautiful user interface. Ammo count, objective information, enemy statuses and basically everything you need to know hangs in the air around you, making it one of the best-looking wars you've ever fought in - if not the most exciting.
That's all for today - tomorrow we're set to play both Skyrim and Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Buzzed doesn't begin to describe it.