Thursday 24 June 2010

Some Upcoming Games I'm Excited About No. 12 - 10

This post continues the countdown of the commercial releases I hope are going to do fascinating things with interactive narrative over the coming year or so.

The story so far:
15. Privates
14. The Old Republic
13. I Am Alive

12. Brink
Developer: Splash Damage   Lead Designer: Richard Ham   Release: Summer 2010   Format: PC, 360, PS3

WTF is it?
The next evolutionary stage in the Enemy Territory lineage of narrative/objective driven competitive FPSs from London mod-scene outfit, Splash Damage. 

What's mind-bogglingly intoxicating?
- As regular readers will know, I get inordinately excited by procedural or otherwise non-scripted story experiences. Just as BF1942 was one of few competitive games to truly capture my heart, the Enemy Territory games combine unpredictable, player-generated tension with pre-authored plot and atmosphere. Ace.
- Brink will mark Splash Damage's first foray into new IP. I have half a feeling I'm seeing writer, Ed Stern, in the pub tomorrow tonight: I'll ask him how things are progressing, but I'm sure he'll have some tricks up his sleeve.
- There's emphasis being placed on a Mirror's Edge style movement system. Interesting. 

What's a little bit disquieting?
- The biggest single concern I can raise at this point is that Splash Damage as an online shooter outfit have unparalleled experience in the genre. This will guarantee a polish final product, but with great polish often comes limited scope. This may be Quake Wars without the Strogg. 

11. Kinect (Project Natal) 
Developer: Microsoft   Release: 4th November 2010   Format: 360

WTF is it?
Microsoft's big hype response to Eye Toy and Playstation Move, Kinect's big trick is skeletal mapping - it knows the difference between your foot and your dog. Unless either your dog or your foot has been in an unpleasant accident. Plus we no longer have to argue over how to pronounce Natal. 

What's mind-bogglingly intoxicating?
- If we're generous in believing the hype, Kinect will be the first truly applicable camera-based interface, touting an analogous leap in fidelity to that of the Wii remote versus Motion Plus or PS Move. ie It ought to actually work.
- Lionhead's flagship demo, Milo, did more than just rehash some mini-games: it looked to be trying to deliver on Molyneux's long-standing goal of delivering emotive interaction with AI characters. 

What's a little bit disquieting?
- Need I say more?

10. The Last Guardian
Developer: Team Ico   Creative Director: Fumito Ueda   Release: 2010(?)   Format: PS3

WTF is it?
Riffing on themes from Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian is a third-person action / platformer that develops especially on the relationship between the protagonist and his horse in the latter.

What's mind-bogglingly intoxicating?
- Quite simply, it's the next project from probably the most recognised developer of artistic commercial video games in the world.
- By moving the emotive interaction from being with another human being to a somewhat sentient animal, Team Ico may be very cleverly sidestepping the uncanny valley and focusing on modelling a relationship they can actually deliver on in full. 

What's a little bit disquieting?
- I'm ashamed to admit that, due to lack of hardware, I never completed either of Team Ico's previous offerings - part of the reason this title only makes No. 10 in my personal wish list. I do wonder, however - particularly in reference to Ico - whether I ever would have. To my mind the studio do more with their visuals than with their gameplay, certainly when compared to someone like indie upstart Ice Pick Lodge (guess who you can look out for later on).

No. 9 - 7 coming soon.


  1. I haven't played anything from Team Ico, simply because I have been a dedicated PC gamer for over 10 years now.

    Brink is one of those games that sound interesting, but online multiplayer games are not something I've indulged in for a number of years either. Although I was just forcibly threatened into a match of Neptune's Pride.

  2. I loved Quake Wars despite its harsh learning curve. It had a lot of interesting elements from the class dependent minor objectives that helped your team overall to the way each level was multi-tiered so every class had a chance to make a mark. I'm really looking forward to Brink despite the fact that some of the character models remind me of Spitting Image.

    Kinect looks neat but my enthusiasm is bated. I'm struggling to see how it can work effectively with traditional game types unlike the Wii remote and the upcoming PS3 equivalent which are arguably more suited to a wider range of applications. We'll see.

    Team Ico's next project was a system seller for me despite knowing nothing about it at the time. It's going to be interesting to see how they handle the theme of companionship a third time. I'm hoping that they can still bring something new to the table.

    I've heard rumours that HD/updated versions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are going to be released which would be a great way to revisit them and an even greater way to witness them for the first time harbour master! ;)

  3. I'm basically a PC gamer but the virtues of living with people that owned a PS2 mean Ico and SotC are able to be the only 2 single-player console games I've ever played. I completed them both and it was definitely worth it. They're both some of my favourite games of all time. Last Guardian makes a strong case for buying a PS3 in the future.

  4. I'm PC centric as well, and I think the list will demonstrate as it goes on just why. We have a DS, Wii and PS3 in the house, but it's rare an absolutely essential, exciting, inovative game comes along that doesn't touch Windows. Couple that with the fact the PC is - at least for now - the home of indie and really it'd be tough to consider yourself someone interested in interactive narrative without a box the size of a small house under your desk.