This is Part Two of my Eurogamer Expo 2009 roundup.
This part will be portrayed mostly in note form, seeing as I wrote notes for all the talks I attended.
Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream)
I missed the one on Heavy Rain. I’m really annoyed at this, as I loved the company’s previous game Farenheit (Indigo Prophecy).
Brink (By Splash Damage, Published By Bethesda, Out Spring 2010 (Delayed Until Fall 2010))
-Splash Damage started out working on Quake mods and Wolfenstein games, and have moved from Multiplayer PC Games to Console games, too.
-Brink is a multiplayer First Person Shooter set around 2045/2055, and takes place in a fictional world known as the Arc.
-Showing off a pre-alpha build (with the HUD turned off, and Demi-God mode activated), we’re shown the Arc airport, which for the moment, is abandoned. This is so show us both the kind of world being created, and to show off the SMART engine.
-The SMART engine, or, Smart Movement Across Random Terrain is an innovative new idea which allows the player previously unprecedented movement. It allows freedom for new players to explore the game, and for advanced players to take advantage of as well. As well as this, there are no canned animations, and to prove this, we are shown the character running over a barrier, jumping and barely catching a roof fixture, then swinging across and landing on the barrier the other side. Then, the character runs and jumps over a bench with no extra buttons or canned animations needed. If it’s applied right, this could be a revolutionary new addition to gaming.
-As well as this, there’s a large range of different characters and classes you can play as, and they’re all very customizable, with some of the options altering the way you play. For example, thinner characters will run faster but take more damage, but will conversely be harder to hit, larger characters will basically be Tank characters. Sounds simple, but the level of customization is deep, even at pre-alpha build.
-The campaign can be played as two sides: The Security and the Resistance. The storylines will be different, as both sides will believe that they are the good guys; The Security will see the Resistance as terrorists who are up to no good, and themselves as protectors of the city, whereas the Resistance will see themselves as freedom fighters trying to free the general populace from the oppressive Security. Plot twists and so forth are apparently abound.
-Showing us a level from the side of the Resistance, this is some seriously amazing game we’re being shown. This is when we’re told that people can change class mid play, and there’s drop in and drop out online multiplayer while you’re playing even single player (ie, your friends could drop in and help you without you having to quit to a menu to do so), as well as an AI Director. The AI Director changes it’s objectives depending on how you play, and will give you more experience points for fulfilling certain tasks. For example, at the time, the most experience came from changing class from Soldier to Engineer, and then completing a repair objective. Then more experience was offered for performing a different objective. This is also a brilliant idea that Splash Damage are trying to implement, and if it works as well as it should, Brink should be one of the most innovative new shooters around upon release.
-While wiping out the enemies in the rest of the level, the presenter quips “I can shoot grenades out of the air sometimes”. Asking about this afterwards, he tells me that it’s something the team wanted to include, and the levels of detail the game will have is not only influenced from their years of experience with shooters, but also to make Brink look and play as brilliantly as possible.
-Basically, Brink looks and plays fantastic, even in a pre-alpha build. The levels of detail, and the amount of effort the team are putting in should hopefully guarantee Brink is a game that no one should miss when it’s released next Autumn/Fall. The delay from Spring is bad news, because it gives the worry of the game being wiped out in Christmas sales. Hopefully, Bethesda will advertise this game heavily, and it’ll see a lot of success. Besides, with a half year delay on a game that looks this good already, this should be a Game of the Year come release.
Fuck yeah, Brink!
Left 4 Dead 2
-Chet Faslizek is showing us some screenshots of the previously unlooked at (at this point in time, 2 months ago) Hard Rain campaign in Left 4 Dead 2, and talking about the design choices that had been made in the production of it.
-The main impetus of the Hard Rain campaign was to try something they hadn’t before, and to make you go from point A to B, back to A again, the difference being that the place is different from B to A, and for you to see the city in a different way.
-A lot of the design choices were influenced by the Viper system Valve use to record people playing the games, and they use the footage to help make the game more balanced and less frustrating. For example, the use of viper allowed the team to see problems in Versus mode, where the survivors would get wiped out at roughly the same spot. By using viper to analyse the footage, they were able to locate the problem and thus balance versus mode to prevent this from happening.
-When you go through from point A to B, the place is dry and it’s daytime. On the way from point B to A, the game changes to night, and it’s raining heavily. Items you use on the way, for example, medkits, will either not be there on the way back or they may not be accessible. As well as this, multiple paths will open up, or certain paths will be closed off by the AI director, depending on your performance. This is similar to how the crypts in the Parish will change layout depending on your skills.
-Another example of testing affecting the design of the campaign is revealed in the form of “The Greatest Garage Sale”. Testers were apparently getting lost during the campaign, so giant signs pointing to a garage sale were implemented in order to guide the player to their intended destination.
-A sugar factory is another place revealed to be part of the Campaign. Sugar attracts the witches, and thus there are far more witches here than in other places in the Left 4 Dead games. An anecdote is told of how the sign warning of witches hanging from the factory was used to address testers who thought the increased amount of witches was a bug in the programming. The uncommon common here are builders, who can’t hear pipe bombs, because they’re wearing hard hats and protective earwear.
-Part of the map was split with another chapter, as people were too commonly wiping before the finale.
-Scavenge mode would be playable outside the studios for the first time at Eurogamer Expo.
-The presentation is over, and there’s a short question and answer session. In response to the question “What happened to the original survivors, are they dead?”, Chet replies “Well they’re not dead…. and they’re not undead, either!”
-In response to how the new Special infected are implemented, Chet discusses how the Charger is used to dispel close knit groups, the spitter is used to stop people hiding in the corner and blasting their way to survival, and the jockey is another method to catch those running behind or lagging ahead. “Plus, he’s just totally evil. There’s nothing more evil than using the jockey to knock one of your friends off the map and killing them”
-In response to whether Valve looked at the ability to spawn as a common infected during spawn times in multiplayer modes, Chet reveals “We did actually look at that, but we discussed it and we found that not only would it increase loading times and possibly slow down the game, spawning as a common infected would be a bit bewildering at first, and by the time you realised where you were, and what you were doing, you’d die in like, one shot, and it wouldn’t be very fun to play”.
-A fan asks if Valve ever looked at a mode where one of the players could control or be the AI Director. Chet answers “We looked at that too, because it was an interesting idea, but we concluded that it wasn’t really in the spirit of the game, and it was too different from all the other modes we had in the game, plus, it wouldn’t have been very fun to play”.
-On what the then-unexplained realism mode would entail, it was explained that Realism mode could be applied to any difficulty mode, and would remove the glow that surrounded characters when they were behind terrain and out of the player’s sight. As well as this, you would not be revived if you died, and there would be no safe rooms (I may have misheard this. Something was definatley said about safe rooms). The point of the mode was to push the skill of a team. He also anecdotally pointed out that smokers could the the player’s worse nightmare in this mode.
I spoke to Chet Fasilzek afterwards when he was walking around the Left 4 Dead 2 stands after the conference, and I got to ask him a couple more questions.
-Firstly, I asked if there’d by any DLC tying campaigns together in the same way that Left 4 Dead had started doing with Crash Course. The reply was that there probably would be, but for the most part, the campaigns were tied together more explicitly than in Left 4 Dead, and this was evident in how some campaigns would start off with the survivors by the escape vehicle from the previous campaign, and so on.
-Secondly, I asked if the original survivors would be in Left 4 Dead 2 in any significant way, seeing as they weren’t dead or undead. The response was that it was a possibility, but it was more likely that they’d be more contained into the Left 4 Dead 1 DLCs than the Left 4 Dead 2 DLCs. (Of course, it’s now been revealed that the original survivors WILL make an appearance in Left 4 Dead 2’s first DLC).
-Finally, I asked what was happening with Half Life 2: Episode 3. The response: “What is that?”. Elaborating, he claimed “Episode 3 doesn’t exist. We’re here to talk about Left 4 Dead 2, and that’s something we’re concentrating on at the moment.”
So, Half Life 2: Episode 3 currently, doesn’t exist. =[
Splinter Cell: Conviction
At the start of the Ask Eurogamer! Developer Session, we were told in previous Developer sessions, Ubisoft would showcase Splinter Cell: Conviction as a suprise to us all. Word got around quickly, as the room quickly and suddenly filled up with people eager to take a look at the next installment of the Splinter Cell Franchise. Showcasing the opening to the game, the demo was the same one they had at E3, but was the first showing of the game in England. Basically, if you’d seen the demo of the game at E3, there wasn’t much different, I’m guessing. However, if not, the demo went roughly as follows:
-Sam Fisher brutally interrogates someone in a bathroom. The style of the game is amazing, throughout certain plot points or conversations, images will show up on the background to accompany, which seems simple, but is presented amazingly. As he brutally interrogates, images flash up on the wall, while things smash and shatter everywhere. The lighting is jaw dropping.
-This leads Sam elsewhere. He needs a distraction to get into a building, but there’s a wall and so forth in the way. However, before climbing the wall, Sam gets out his gun, without firing it. This causes the busy crowd to run away in a mass panic, and Sam follows them. Climbing over the wall while the guards run to the location where Sam pulled out his gun, he’s pulled off a good old diversion, and he’s over the wall. Apparently, there are multiple ways to any objective, and the crowd are one of the ways you can try out a variety of tactics to reach the end of the mission.
-Climbing through a window, this is when all the shooting begins. The shooting is now fast paced and looks a lot of fun. Cover systems and all remain intact. The mission objective comes up on a wall as we pass it, the enemies are dispatched stealthily or violently (there is a collective wince in the room as Sam buries a man’s face in the wall).
-One thing that bugs me is the way they tout a system in which Sam can look through under doors (for example, with broken glass), then tag people for execution, whereupon Sam will automatically kill them upon entering the room, as a new, unique feature. It may be that I misheard or misinterpreted it, they could have phrased it as a new feature to the series, but I swear Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (a horrible waste of a game) had exactly the same feature (except your teammates carried out the tagged kills rather than your character). Regardless, Sam pops a cap in them in slooooowwww motttiooonnn (okay, thats different from R6V2), and blood flies about. One thing’s for sure, the violence and pace are both plentiful.
-Explosions and gunfights abound, and the demonstration ends.
-The game apparently releases February 26th (23rd in America), and we’re told we can leave if we were only here for the Splinter Cell showcase. Most of the room leaves.
A lone tear is shed by a Eurogamer employee.
Eurogamer Expo 2009 Roundup:
Part 1: Game Glimpses
Part 3 Forthcoming.