Eurogamer Expo 2012 Round-up – Part Two

So here it is, welcome to part two of my Eurogamer Expo 2012 PC games roundup. We’re nowhere near running out of fantastic games to talk about, so let’s get started.

Dishonored

Here’s one game that a lot of people have been waiting for for a while. From developers Arkane Studios (the likes of Dark Messiah and Magic) and publishers Bethesda, who have the fantastic Elder Scrolls and Fallout series under their belts, Dishonored is a sure-fire way of making the gaming crowd collectively wet themselves.

Influenced by the likes of Thief and Bioshock, Dishonored establishes a breathtaking new fictional world, with a great backstory to boot, alongside intriguing first-person mechanics and a wonderful magic/skills system.

But now we’ve come to play it, does it live up to its pedigree?

What We Get to Play

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to take out Anton Sokolov at his home/lab. Take him outside, I mean, apparently my job is to kidnap him. Who is this man? Why am I to kidnap him? Is someone feeding my cat whilst I’m gone?

From the looks of it, Arkane Studios would like you to work a little bit to get past the need-to-know basis of your initial mission objectives. Unfortunately, because I am, in fact, terrible at this game, I did not get to find out much more about Mr Sokolov.

Graphics

Dishonored does not quite have the best of graphics. Not that this is any way bad, of course. This is no Crysis or Battlefield, but that’s not really relevant, because Dishonored attempts a certain quality of style that bypasses the issue, in the same way that Borderlands, Bioshock and Team Fortress 2 do.
Dishonored employs a certain washed colour aesthetic that gives the Unreal 3 Engine-based game a little something to set it apart from the rest.
But for what it attempts to do, the game looks great.

Gameplay

As for the gameplay, unfortunately some of the movement leaves a little something to be desired. The weirdly smoothed out movement, like having a steadicam for a head, reminds me a lot of days gone by, and the likes of Skyrim, Fallout and Bioshock.

Nevertheless, it’s still massively enjoyable, and this is in no way marred by the fact that I was terrible at this game. Like most of the other games at the Expo, there’s ironically not much exposition. It was very much just the one level, with very little to do except complete it, or explore to the (quite short) limits of the level’s boundaries. There just wasn’t enough time or space to really experience the game to its full extent, but what I did find had me itching to play more.

There are of course two ways to go about the game: Stealth or action. Unfortunately, for those of us who are more inclined to wreak havoc and find your way in straight through the front door, the game is slightly limited in this way. There is definitely clear focus on the stealth aspect of the game, but still some skills and weapon upgrades available for those more violently inclined.

Still, this game didn’t get Eurogamer’s “Game of Show” award for nothing. It’s a breath of fresh air in the Sequelitis-infected gaming industry, and what feels to me to be a fantastic spiritual successor to the Thief series. It feels fantastic.

By the time you see this, Dishonored will be available now.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

As for the other first-person shooter that’s been making the likes of us all giddy and excited, Aliens: Colonial Marines has been picking up the interest. Ever since the likes of James Cameron’s glorious Aliens, we’ve been looking for a good excuse to pit Aliens versus Marines. There have been a number of attempts to perfect this kind of gameplay, and the only real success we’ve had in the past opted to throw some Predators in the mix as well.

But this, this is something different. In the trusted hands of Gearbox Software (Brothers in Arms series, Borderlands series), we may find ourselves with a wonderfully action-packed and balanced game. Predators are out in this one, so it’s pure Aliens versus Marines gameplay.

What We Get to Play

This one was a whole load of fun, though we got to play very little. We got to play the one level, and only as marines. The Gearbox Software team that were present became the resident Alien team, who opted to gleefully tear us to shreds every game. The level that we got to play was hard to describe much more than “typically Alien-y”, with eerie dark corridors on what appears to be a human spaceship.

Graphics

Boy, does this game capture the mood well. The dark palette, claustrophobic horizontal and (terrifyingly) vertical level design, and eerily despondent corridors makes playing this game as the marines a tense experience. If that doesn’t scare you, then the following will:
There is no HUD. That’s right. Playing the game with just the shouts of your team mates, an ammo counter on your gun, and the optional motion detector, and the looming threat of half a dozen Xenomorphs sneaking their way toward you (they are almost silent, until they attack).

Gameplay

Even though the game is still in development, and did feature a number of bugs (some of which may have been taken advantage of by the Gearbox team on the Aliens side, boo-hiss etc.) it’s still a very solid game. Amazingly solid, in fact. As a marine, you get choice of a number of different loadouts, custom or pre-defined. I opted with the good old assault rifle.

Having been torn asunder many times in the past in these kind of games, I implored our team to “stick [expletive] together” or we’re doomed. This worked, to an extent. Unfortunately, we did not get to play with voice-chat, so true team play was slightly lost, and we did end up getting decimated by the Aliens. Nevertheless, I managed to dispatch a lot of Aliens with my trusty assault rifle.

The weapons feel fantastic, and sound great too. They certainly pack a punch and do make me feel an all-too-slight sigh of relief before the paranoia seeps in again as I find my team mates having scattered and torn to pieces one by one. Unfortunately, toward the end my game crashed, and we found ourselves two kills short of winning the game at the end, a disappointment that I could have turned in to a win. But of course, the game is still in development, so I shouldn’t complain.

The game was massively popular at the Expo, and I can see why. The sort of balanced gameplay that very few a-symmetric versus games have achieved to great reception. This may be one of those games.

Aliens: Colonial Marines will be released early 2013.

That’s it for part two. Stay tuned for the likes of Company of Heroes 2, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and some indie games to boot.