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E3 2011 Preview Round-Up #1

More games than you can look at (which is three)

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 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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