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Ubidays 08

Having spent an, let’s just say, intimate morning on the tube it was a relief to arrive in Paris. Greeted by a coach which most of us could get on, we arrived in a hotel on the Seine not far from the Eiffel Tower. A truly beautiful spot, except for the building in front that blocked my tower view! Regardless, there were too many other sights to see, many of which were rooftop gardens that looked more like they were on land than on a building.

As was the main foyer for the Ubidays extraordinaire which welcomed everyone with a spring themed crispness in the heart of the Louvre. The French muscle of the industry was flexed and tensed, was preparing us for it’s line up. Although I was looking forward to seeing what they had, I couldn’t help thinking about wondering around the Louvre after the “main event”. Either way, having an empty museum in the middle of the night was pretty cool.

Hosted by Vernon Kay and shown to our seats by hostesses wearing the coolest orange aprons, we saw a catwalk of games, developers and directors each showing off their next big titles all due out before the end of the year. Phrases like “exciting” and “world exclusive” were continuously used, and each time I’d cringe. Each time though I was surprised and, dare I say, impressed. Each game was exciting. Each game was different. And each game looked like fun.

After an intro from Kay and a show from Alain Corre, Ubi executive director for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia-Pacific) we were show the first trailer and demo of ‘Far Cry 2’.
It’s important to note that no comparison can be made with the previous game. There is no point in comparing it to the previous installation at all. This is a totally different beast that is set in the heart of the African savannah with militiamen as your enemy rather than the impossible mutilated monster/alien types, nor will you be on an island. Instead you’ll be able to stroll the whole world seamlessly, without having to wait for load up screens. The demo was clean, it was impressive, it made you want to play. Not only that, but you have a 50 square kilometres of seamless strolling, or driving, or flying world in which to roam freely. You’ll also have some cool kit that helps you in the field, like a monocular that allows you to identify points of interest on your battered map. It was described as the developers as a “human drama” with the living world as “just a backdrop” to the story. And man, it’s beautiful. Real weather simulation means things like starting a fire on the dry, grassy savannah will depend on direction of wind. Ultimately you’re going to have to think about everything you do. Still, we’re hoping the “human drama”, which we didn’t see much of, side meant to draw you in to the story line isn’t too bad, but being a mercenary never really is.

And mercenary is something of a trait that the new ‘Prince of Persia’ has. Not really a prince, and no one knows if he’s really from Persia, but hey, you assume the role of a desert guerrilla that is ultimately tamed by a beautiful woman. Meeting Elika, his light in a desert storm (incidentally, there is no ‘Sands of Time’ rewind option), convinces him to go on a war against the darkness. Apart from a teaser trailer and some art work, there wasn’t much more to report on the night. We did get a word with Chris Easton, one of the community managers, so see what he had to say about the forthcoming title.

{PAGE TITLE=Page 2}This was followed by a morale boosting talk by a Colonel reiterating how important loving your soldiers in war was, and trying to recreate that atmosphere in a game. So this was our intro to another game that we could only see a trailer for. This coupled with the fact it’s another FPS WWII themed shooter, I must say, I wasn’t terribly excited. It looked nice, but not as good as ‘Far Cry 2’ and frankly I wasn’t so sure about their idea of a story for ‘Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway’.

Then came Tom Clancy. It was no surprise to hear that more development was going to be thrown into the newly, fully acquired and already successful Tom Clancy brand, but the emphasis was specifically how they were going to do it.

All throughout the evening I’d somehow managed to be sitting next to the man that I had wanted to hunt down for months. A couple of months ago I got a little invite to attend a little preview event in Soho. I’d responded and didn’t hear back until the day of the event. Luckily I was still in London when I got a call from my Ubiguy. He asked why I wasn’t there and told me to come down. So, almost reluctantly, I made my way there to play a game I had no idea would excite me more than anything else that I’d seen for a long time. This game was ‘End War’ and falls under the Tom Clancy brand. Even early on this game was impressive, but now, at Ubidays we were being shown cleaner, sharper game footage, and more polished gameplay. And all this time I had been sitting next to the lead producer of the game. If you don’t know anything about this game, I urge you to read our preview. This was real RTS, this was the real equivalent to ‘Risk’, and this was my main reason for coming to Paris.

‘Tom Clancy’s End War’ puts you in control of an a**nal of armed men, vehicles and gunships, and gives you commanding rights over them with just the flick of the right trigger. No buttons are required, no joystick really, all you need is your voice. Using a set template of commands you can move any unit any where in this destructible world. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s a completely successful system that works with all voice dialects. Released later this year, it will be language localised for up to 8 languages.
And the Tom Clancy brand want to take things further with the introduction of ‘Tom Clancy’s HAWX’ a flight sim arcade that allows you to control and fight in one of 50 of the deadliest aircraft in military service.
This game looked great, the flight physics were good, the manoeuvres realistic, but it’s still a little too arcadey for me. I’m a real flight sim geek, and frankly this didn’t cut the mustard. It’s, to me, like ‘Afterburner’ on steroids. You’ve got the excitement and arcade feel, but there is no sense of a real aircraft, and this is something that consoles will struggle to ever conquer. However, for someone who doesn’t really give two hoots about flying and just wants to fly an F-22 or Eurofighter, then it’s brilliant fun. It was also hinted that the Tom Clancy universe was going to expand, bringing ‘HAWX’ and ‘End War’ together for a positively explosive gaming experience.

So this is what Ubisoft wanted to show us what its future will hold, and not so distant future. Ubi also want a slice of the extreme sports pie too, offering up a brand new snowboarding game. ‘Shaun White Snowboarding’ is Ubi’s challenge to ‘Tricky’. Instead of unlocking mountains you’ll follow a more structured story line, but developers have a*ured that it won’t limit where you can go on the mountain. Using the same engine as ‘Assassins Creed’ we’re promised more realistic responses from our environment and the way we react to what’s around us. The game’s namesake is a bit of a legend in the extreme sports world winning the X-games an obscene amount of times. But he&rsquo
;s loving the game is “stoked” with the amount of input he’s put into helping create the different boarding experiences around the world. It’ll come on all platforms and Wii Board owners will have the option to work a real run.

Fortunately we hadn’t climaxed yet, for it would be a waste, surely, to not have the ‘Rayman’ Raving Rabbids make at least a small appearance. And they did bundled in a new game called ‘RRR TV Party’. You can be sliding down a mountainside on a an elk, or you could be boogying to some disco tune. Either way it’s definitely one you can play with or without kids and/or alcohol.

A fine line up, it has to be said. But not as cool as wondering around the Louvre at night and getting an orange apron.


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