Welcome to the third part of the Eurogamer Expo round-up. Today we’ll be covering some delicious sequels. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of sequels on show at the Eurogamer, but that’s what brings the crowds, of course. Apart from Dishonored and a couple of Indie Games I’ll be telling you about later on, it’s pretty much all sequels.
Hit the break to head in to the hot, dense jungles of our first game.
Far Cry 3
Ubisoft Montreal have certainly got things in the bag, as proud owners of the indomitable Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed series. There is certainly similarity in style with some of these games: Third-person sneaking, climbing, parkour and assassination. Back in 2005 they acquired the much known Far Cry series name. Though without Far Cry’s original developers (Crytek, who went on to develop the graphically impressive Crysis series) in tow, Ubisoft Montreal took it upon themselves to create their own games in the Far Cry name. Far Cry 2 was impressive, and garnered a bit of a following, though it was clear that in some department, Ubisoft still needed to do some studying.
Far Cry 3, however, gives us another great chance to see how they’re coming along.
What we got to play
One thing that the Far Cry 3 demo had over most of the other big-name demos at the Expo was that it was fairly open-ended. If I did have some sort of objective, it was lost on me. I tended to do what most people did with the demo, and just traipse around and make some fun. It’s perfectly allowable, of course, but I’m sure in the full game we’ll have some more exposition or storyline. Most people wouldn’t really pay attention to any story told in the demo anyway, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to just have a little fun with the engine.
Though I’m inevitably drawn to compare the graphics to Far Cry’s brother in arms, Crysis, Far Cry 3 does still look the part, and very nicely so. Far Cry 2′s fantastic engine has been polished somewhat, the game looks crisp, bright and detailed, with fantastic sights all the way to the horizon. This game actually makes me feel slightly warmer inside, as I gaze upon the bright sun of some pacific island.
One thing that I really enjoyed about Far Cry 2 was the quality of the animations. The animations are realistic, smooth and believable, not only for your playable character, but other NPCs too. Unfortunately, some of these great effects are lost somewhat when you actually kill someone, which is when the now tedious rag-doll physics kick in, but it’s still great to look at. Funnily enough, I tried getting injured in numerous ways in the game just to see what my character would do when he’s healing himself.
Of course, it’s not really Far Cry without the fantastic variation of vehicles that can be commandeered, rigged, driven off cliffs or just to go off-road with (which unsurprisingly is rather hard to avoid). Amongst the goodies we got to play with were zip-lines, hang-gliders and a trusty bow as well. It’s actually just plain good fun to wander around and make mischief, which is pretty much the entirety of what I did. Mischief until death, repeat.
Unfortunately, I can’t help but compare this game to a certain other jungle-based, free-roaming mischief making game, Just Cause 2. Though the scope in Just Cause 2 is much larger, it does so at the cost of intricate, detailed smaller levels that Far Cry 3 pulls off quite well. This game rather more realistic, no doubt, which does means more realistic fun, but still having some sort of fear of death. The way you heal your injuries make me cringe, just like in Far Cry 2, and are really well done. The weapons? They feel like they pack a punch, and do so too. That’s all I could really ask for.
My thoughts? Though we haven’t seen much of the storyline apart from the trailers, it looks like a fun romp, with a little room for some creative mischief as well.
Far Cry 3 will be released at the end of November, 2012.
Company of Heroes 2
From the sunny shores of the pacific coastline, to the cold, frozen shores of the Eastern Front, Company of Heroes 2 is a long-awaited and welcome sequel to the fantastic original game and its expansions. Relic Studios have a fantastic history in real-time strategy, but with just 3 RTS behemoths under their belt, the Company of Heroes, Homeworld and Warhammer 40,000 series. There’s a good reason why we’re looking forward to the first true sequel to what many consider (me included) to be the best World War Two real-time strategy game of all time.
Though the original game was very much a centrepiece for the European theater of war, specifically the western front, this new game focuses entirely on the Eastern.
What we get to play
Just the one level, serving mostly as a glorified tutorial, putting you in the shoes of the Russians as they attempt to assault and defend against the German forces in the blisteringly cold weather.
The graphics engine has been bumped up, incorporating all the improvements made to the series, and the Warhammer series, since the first company of Heroes game in 2006. Company of Heroes 2 will be the showcase game for Relic’s new Essence 3.0 engine, and it looks the part.
One of the big talking points about this new engine, and also heavily talked about by Relic, are the new environmental effects. It’s one of those ideas that leaves you wondering why no other previous RTS has even considered the thought, but it’s the Eastern front warfare that brings it to the surface. The weather is your enemy, and is far more lethal and harder to fight than your opposing force. The environmental effects have been massively upgraded for this game, as well as other resulting gameplay engine changes, such as visibility and the particle effects.
There is a definite shift in the tone between the first Company of Heroes game and this one; a certain added life to the units that you order about. The glorification of both sides of the western front in the first game was clear, but another side of the war is shown in this game.
The constant threat of the weather, the whole frigidity of the situation gives me the chills, in the same way that Far Cry 3 does warm me up a bit with its visuals. The soldiers you control do not want to be there. None of them do. The sheer futility of warfare on the Eastern front is certainly apparent in this game, and the new engine and resultant gameplay works wonders for what it’s trying to show.
However, I can’t help but feel that this seems more like a massive expansion to the game rather than a full-blown sequel. It shouldn’t be, of course. It may just be that the Company of Heroes franchise has been consistently given massive patches and expansions that it just feels weird to be getting a sequel after all this time. In any case, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Relic will be doing with this game.
Company of Heroes 2 will be released in early 2013.
That’s it for now, not long left. Stay tuned for a promising indie game and the return of an old friend.