Codemasters Connect, set in the dizzy metropolis of Birmingham, was always going to be an interesting prospect. The venue, Omega Sektor, can be found in the heart of the commercial part of the city, surrounded by buildings that span the age of the city.Gotta love queuesBut I didn’t go to the event to wander around the city and marvel at its architecture. Quite the contrary in fact. My mission, as I had chosen to accept it, was to find out more about this “new” MMO that the Codemaster team were buzzing about and to try out a new game from NetDevil, the guys that crashed and burnt with ‘Auto a*ult’. But not so with the new MMO, which is a space action MMO and reminded me of the heady days of ‘X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter’. Although still in an extremely early stage, ‘Jumpgate Evolution’ that missing MMO for flight sim fanatics and for those that can’t be a**d to make and customise a character and profile. Instead you can choose one of three factions to pledge your allegiance to and work through the missions gaining XP and the rest.Time to dress up freaky.It’s pretty innovative as a game as you can choose whether to play with the conventional keyboard/mouse set up or plug in your joystick and throttle control to meander your way around the vacuum of space. So armed with a Saitek X-52 I took on the minions of space.
Graphically, the game is brilliant and can’t be faulted, but the real test will come when it’s released for Beta later this year. NetDevil have said that you won’t need a machine that can operate a mission to Mars (although most of those have failed anyway), which is great news. So you won’t have to upgrade your machine to a ludicrous standard.
I’m a flight sim freak myself, and have never really got into MMOs, but sitting in the spacefighter and flying around a universe reminded me of my days as a Sith fighter in the Tie Fighter c**pit. It’s a good game, bugs and all, but the bugs are inevitable purely because it’s in such an early stage of development. Unlike most other MMOs that are coming out, this one is a little different in the sense of its direction and audience. Instead of trying to take share of the market that is already established, it has looked at a part of the market that has not yet been touched, and concentrating itself for this hardcore fan base might just be what will differentiate this from the other MMOs out there.PCs galore for everyoneBut that wasn’t the only reason we were there. As mentioned before, ‘Lord Of The Rings Online’ fans had something to shout about too. It’s been a long time coming; with rumours flying all over the place as to what it is that the Codemaster lot were going to announce. It turns out, after a lengthy presentation, that there is going to be a whole new game for ‘LOTRO’ fans, and the whole new game will happen under ground in Tolkien’s fantasy Dwarven lands of Moria. ‘Mines of Moria’ will take players through the beautiful underground citadels of ancient which are referred to in the books, with all the cities being lovingly recreated and restored to their original glory. Not only that, but players will be able to wander through the worlds seamlessly, so there won’t be any need to log out and log in, which is good, I suppose.
In addition to this you’ll be able to go up to level 60 and there will be two new classes. The other outstanding and memorable thing that I took away with me was the fact that you don’t only upgrade your weapons, but they grow with you, “like a pet”. This means that you could have a weapon that is totally specific and unique to you and only works for you. Pretty interesting altogether.There’s always something to be signedHosting the event at the Omega Spektor was the right choice too. It houses hundreds of networked computers all in a Las Vegas style atmosphere&h**ip;no windows or clocks, so you never know what time it is. All you have is a machine and ridiculous amounts of junk food and caffeine/sugar induced drinks dotted around the place. My only criticism was that there were no other old skool Codemaster titles, but I suppose the announcements were the main focus and this was their fist bash at hosting an event. So really, I can’t criticise much. And in fairness, if there were more games to play, how many people would be there for the announcement&h**ip;?!