E3 2011 Preview Round-Up #1

By John Walker on June 9th, 2011 at 7:52 pm.

When do we get to see a new republic?

Will there be a #2? I’ve no idea. But for now here’s a collection of some games I saw at E3 2011 and the accompanying thoughts. Below you can find The Old Republic, Telltale’s latest crop, and Codies’ F1 2011.

The Old Republic – BioWare/EA

Not much new was revealed this time, beyond the opening cinematic (that Quintin incorrectly thinks is rubbish, when it is in fact ultro-brilliant cliche-tastic extraordamentary CGI SWOOSH SWISH action awesome, the idiot). Some of the dialogue in it was so amazingly awful that Dan and I laughed out loud. No one else in the room did, which was a little awkward. But, “I sense… a great darkness!” and “This is only the beginning!” are spectacularly awful. But who cares, because it looked amazing. And completely at odds with the game’s WoW-meets-Clone Wars design. I’ll tell you what though – my prejudices against horned-headed men were challenged.

New reveals were the bikes you can zoom about on. I say zoom – it’s an MMO. You can trundle along like a hovering mobility scooter. None of which matters a jot, because this is still my number one game to look forward to. They keep saying it’s “KotOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…” I say it’s “infinite KotOR” and I want them to start using that slogan immediately.

What I hadn’t realised before is that the game’s in three acts. And each act is about three times the length of KotOR 1. They described it as “a ridiculous amount of content, and ridiculously personal.” They also revealed “Operations”, which are their equivalent of end-game raids, but told us no useful details about those at this point. They will be “ridiculously difficult combat scenarios,” and stress how important it will be to kick useless people out of your groups. True in most respects.

Telltale

Telltale have some new games in the pipeline that I’d not even noticed. Along with Sam & Max, Monkey Island, Wallace & Gromit, Strong Bad, Back To The Future, Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead, they’re also working on Hector: Badge of Carnage, Fables, Puzzle Agent 2, and King’s Quest.

Hector was born of an iPhone game created by an Irish team called Straandlooper. Parts 2 and 3 will be released through Telltale on PC this Autumn. It’s a game in which you play as a vile, corrupt cop, investigating murders and kidnappings.

Puzzle Agent 2 is, perhaps not wholly surprisingly, a sequel to last year’s Puzzle Agent. To call it a Professor Layton rip-off is a bit like calling a star “quite big”. But they don’t deny this. The sequel was described as “Fargo meets Professor Layton”, Graham Annable’s cartoons once more used to link together some puzzles. The first game didn’t manage to capture Annable’s freaky vibe, but there were promises this one would. However, in the short sequence we saw none of that creepiness was apparent, and the two puzzles demonstrated were extremely banal. They were at the start of the game, however, and they promise less repetition this time around.

They said not a thing about Fables, other than to point at a rather nice looking poster on the wall with a wolf on it. And King’s Quest was also kept under wraps, beyond confirming that Roberta Williams has given her blessing, but opted not to be involved. When I asked Dave Grossman why King’s Quest and not Space Quest or Quest For Glory, he said that KQ was the flagship game of those Sierra days, so where better to start? I suggested a series with a sense of humour, and was quickly shot down. Very pleasingly they also said that they have no issue with the fan-made KQ games and won’t be interfering with those projects.

Exciting news is that Michael J Fox has agreed to appear in the final chapter of Back To The Future. Not playing Marty, but instead two other characters. One of them they told us. Remember the baby that wees on him, William McFly? He’s offering his voice there. And one other role that’s staying a surprise. Apparently he was impressed with the previous episodes, and had heard good word from Christopher Lloyd.

The other exciting thing is that I met Dave Grossman and you didn’t.

F1 2011 – Codemasters

F1 2011 might be very good. But I might as well have been sat in front the instructions for chemical vapor deposition for all I could understand of it.

So here are the facts. This is more than an update to Codemasters Birmingham’s first take on the F1 series last year. With the engine in place, they’ve attempted to make improvements to all aspects, as well as updating the features to include the new rules and regs in the latest season.

This time there will be 19 circuits (20 if Bahrain comes on board), including the new Buddh International Circuit in Dehli, and Germany’s second track, Nürburgring in Nürburg. Apparently there’s to be another one in Texas in 2012. But that’s for next year.

New rules for 2011 include the Kinetic Energy Reduction System, or KERS, which is basically a turbo boost for the cars. Which suddenly makes me want to watch F1 again. Are they going to be leaping over each other? I mean, on purpose? There’s also Drive Reduction System, DRS, which is obviously that thing about how the… wheels can go? The engine? The windscreen wipers? There are Pirelli Tyres! FUCK YEAH! I think that’s supposed to be good. And I think there’s to be a new shade of red on the red, red cars.

Their slogan is, “Be the driver. Live the life. Go compete.” The latter part referring to their new-found focus on mulitplayer. There’s even going to be split-screen, the tech for which they’ve borrowed from the DIRT team. Another nice inclusion is co-op for teammates. So you can have that relationship of support and rivalry while going through the season with a friend on your team.

They’ve upped the number of cars in online races to the full 24, with 16 of those able to be human beings, the other eight made up of magic robot cars controlled by the future.

Here are some other words: Parc fermé, reaction cinematics, enhanced garage atmosphere, handling advancements (suspension, aerodynamics), new driver AI, enhanced damage and failures (although still no random failures – they believe it takes away fun, but components now degrade over time), improved driver feedback, and best of all, heightened circuit fidelity. Mmmmm, cars.

Sadly they demoed it on a 360, and it honestly looked poor. Incredibly dated graphics, horrendous jagged lines, and white cut-out lines around objects. How they could have thought not showing it on PC was a good idea bemuses me. But then Bethesda made the same stupid mistake with Skyrim, so they weren’t alone.

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44 Comments »

  1. MythArcana says:

    Still no Torchlight 2, eh?

  2. Rikard Peterson says:

    Telltale have some new games in the pipeline that I’d not even noticed.

    You need to start following the right sites to become in the loop. ;)

  3. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Talking about racing games, which is the best racing sim on the PC? How come I never hear anything about iRacing?

    • johnpeat says:

      Because – tbh – iRacing is aimed at people who would NEVER play a racing ‘game’ or visit a ‘gaming’ site like this either…

      I can’t talk about sims anymore – I lost interest when their communities started to circle wagons and erect signs denying that they were ‘gamers’ and that what they played were ‘not games’.

      They’re right tho – most of them are not games – they’re not fun – they’re, well, they’re weird – and deadly dull.

      Really sad part is they’re not realistic either – cries of heresy I hear but it’s true. I hear the rabid rabid wagon-owners rant about it but hell, I’ve driven a couple of racing cars and rather more performance cars on a variety of tracks and those games are NOTHING like that – and never, ever will be.

      I’ll give them one thing tho – they’re the only online community I’d like to play with less than XB Live – so there’s an achievement :)

    • Jason Moyer says:

      iRacing is fun. That is to say, if you find competing against other humans at something that is actually difficult is fun, you’ll probably enjoy it.

      It’s the best sim but that doesn’t mean much if you don’t want to race other humans online. The subscription is cheap now ($10 a month to $99 a year, I think?) although the content is still too expensive for my tastes. On the other hand there’s really no reason to buy most of the content since almost all of the racing happens with the free or lower level cars/tracks.

      I haven’t actually been subscribed in over a year because I just don’t have the time/desire for it right now. I’m also holding off for iRacing 2.0 which is supposed to be out later this year with a variety of improvements.

    • identiti_crisis says:

      Best racing sim on the PC? Difficult to say, as it depends on what you want. I still regularly play the venerable Grand Prix Legends, mostly because the era is so appealing to me, and the mods are almost all top quality. It’s also the only place you can drive the Piccolo Madonie variant of the Targa Florio, at least until it’s ported to rFactor…
      rFactor is certainly popular, although I personally dislike it largely for its “feel”; it does have the biggest array of community made stuff, although it is of highly variable quality, and much of it sounds like YouTube videos.
      The GTR series (including RACE) is much of the same, but I marginally prefer its feel. GT Legends is pretty good, too, if you’re more into historic touring car and GT.
      Then there are the smaller, indie games such as Live for Speed (which I personally love) and netKar Pro, but their communities are considerably smaller.

      Finally, the best “proper” racing I’ve ever had was in iRacing, mostly because of the effects of the safety rating (and opponent matching) and the beautiful sense of subtlety in the physics engine. I, too, find the content costs a bit hard to swallow, and have also temporarily stopped racing until iRacing twopointoh is finalised in August (ish…)

      By the way, I’m a “gamer”, but I’ve been sim racing just as long, and can safely say that the elitism winds me up, too. It’s no different, really, to the kinds of elitism you see elsewhere in the video-gaming world, though.

  4. Nick says:

    Everything I see of TOR looks awful, frankly.. and the fact because of it there won’t be another Kotor is even more galling.

  5. Binho says:

    DRS is stands for ‘Drag Reduction System”, it’s a little flap that opens up in the rear wing to make the cars go “swooosh” and overtake each other easier.

    I do hope they sort the AI for the other cars on track. in 2010 it was quite shameful. There weren’t any actual AI cars going around the track, they’d just magically appear infront of you at certain points. Their registered lap times didn’t even match their actual lap times, it was quite the outrage among the community. Looking forward to it though, if they sort all that out.

    Especially split screen. Woo! Need to get DIRT3 and F1 2011 then :)

    • Radiant says:

      Why isn’t it open all the time?

    • Radiant says:

      This is how I imagine it works: that little flap opens up at the back and the driver just lets rip with monster farts.

    • Umpaidh says:

      “Why isn’t it open all the time?”

      The flap removes downforce from the rear of the car thus reducing drag allowing the car to go faster in a straight line. If you tried braking for a corner with it open there would not be enough grip at the rear so you hit the wall, backwards.

    • adonf says:

      @Umpaidh: What, F1 cars are front drive ? Excuse the noob question but I though racing cars were always rear drive (or 4WD) because this gets better acceleration.

    • Umpaidh says:

      yeah they are rear drive.
      Just if no down force over the back wheels there is no grip so rear brakes won’t work, then the front brakes will prob lock up and off you go. The rear of the car will “overtake” the front.
      Trying to explain it in a simple way, sorry for any misunderstanding :)

  6. Vague-rant says:

    Is that Tales of Monkey Island 2 you’re referring to? I had no idea. But colour me interested. Which as far as I’m aware is like orange only yellower.

  7. BooleanBob says:

    No way, you met the pasta sauce guy?!

  8. kurtcocaine says:

    I agree with quentin on the Old republic Into trailer..
    Fake Han Solo with a fake R2D2 with a fake Obiwan and luke and fake pre-mask vader :(

    Inshort – psuedo star wars :( :(

    Anyway i’ve never played a MMO for more than 1 day so i guess my opinion doesnt count for much anyway..

  9. stahlwerk says:

    How super awesome would it be if codemaster pulled a Spectrum Holobyte of Falcon 3.0 vintage and made it possible to set up multiplayer matches between players from dirt3 and F1 2011?

  10. Novotny says:

    How, brothers, can we cleanse the land of this consoley-like blight? Will it ever pass?

  11. Kadayi says:

    Excellent news on Puzzle agent 2. Graham Annabele does unsettling brilliantly: -

  12. icupnimpn2 says:

    Has Telltale actually confirmed work on a second season of Monkey Island? I didn’t think they had. Is my reading of Walker too optimistic?

  13. xGryfter says:

    Is Guild Wars 2 not at E3? I haven’t heard mention of it anywhere.

    I only wanted 2 things from E3; the announcement of a new AAA Space Sim from any competent developer able to do one justice and a release window for Guild Wars 2. Instead I get WiiU and a bunch of consolie console games… I’m mildly disappointed.

  14. InternetBatman says:

    It has to be pumped to the gills with cliches if it wants to compete with WoW. Hopefully they can revise their lore every year or so and have the players kill most of the established villains too.

  15. Olivaw says:

    You tell ‘em John Walker! Old Republic looks awesome! Haters gonna hate!

  16. jeremypeel says:

    The more I hear that TOR is KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, the more I begin to suspect that only the first couple of those games will be reviewed or talked about in any depth. There’s no precedent for that amount of story-driven RPGing in one game! And as I say that, I’ve sold myself on at least a couple of months’ subscription just to plough through as much of it as possible.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Also, I reckon Bioware didn’t choose the phrase ‘a ridiculous amount of content’ as a description to offer to their shareholders before they started writing the thing.

  17. Sivart13 says:

    I suggested a series with a sense of humour, and was quickly shot down.

    Pity. While I don’t find Telltale’s games particularly funny (or good), KQ is really the most banal of the Sierra series they could tackle.

    Very pleasingly they also said that they have no issue with the fan-made KQ games and won’t be interfering with those projects.

    One (or more?) of the people working on one of those ‘fan-made KQ games’ works for Telltale, so it’s understandable there wouldn’t be any conflict there. That might explain why they’re even working on it, actually.

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