GamesCom 2009 in Cologne is my first proper trade show event abroad – and it’s already turned out to be a corker of a show. There’s so much to see here both in and out of private appointments that it’s almost impossible to see and write about everything. Three or four days simply isn’t enough time.
In fact, even before the show had officially started the announcements were flying thick and fast – with Sony announcing the PlayStation 3 Slim, as well as a bunch of other smaller announcements such as the option for PSP Go owners to get a free copy of Gran Turismo. The announcements haven’t slowed down today either, with Microsoft Game Studios boss Peter Molyneux announcing an intriguing new option for Fable 2 fans, called Fable 2 Episodic. Oh, and there was Fable 3 as well.
Those are just the big announcements though and they don’t really do justice to the scope of the show – so below you can check out some of the best (and worst) things we’ve seen and played at GamesCom 2009 on the first day.
Scribblenauts was our most revisited game today
Platform: Nintendo DS
Unusually, the one game which impressed us most on the show floor wasn’t a stunningly gorgeous PC game or a new open world console MMO – it was a rough-looking 2D platformer for the DS. We knew a little bit about Scribblenauts before now, mainly that it was a level-based puzzler where the goal of each level was to collect stars and that players were able to summon whatever they could think of to help them, but this was the first time we’d actually had a chance to play the game.
The basic idea of being able to just type in whatever you want and have a 2D cartoony version appear before you is intoxicating, we promise you. The game successfully interpreted specific but obscure nouns, as well as guessing at generic ones with great accuracy – the lexicon stretching on indefinitely by the feel of it. Among the words we tried were ‘Dragoon’, ‘God’, ‘Death’, ‘Girder’, ‘Animal’ and ‘Battle Axe’. The game got them all correctly, guaranteeing that we’d revisit tomorrow with another list of words to try and bamboozle it with. Any suggestions?
Some things need no caption, such as women dressed as vegetables
Platform: PC Exclusive
You can bet your bottom dollar that we’ll be writing more about FutureMark’s space-based multiplayer shooter in the near future, but for now we’ll just say that we were very impressed with the game in terms of overall accessibility and design. The idea of a zero gravity shooter for up to 32 players doesn’t immediately sound like it would be easy to control, but it actually is. Within just a few minutes we were spiralling round a fictionalised version of the International Space Station and capping developers with ease.
What was especially interesting about Shattered Horizon though wasn’t just the zero gravity setting itself, but the way zero-g as a feature had constrained and expanded the overall gameplay. Frag grenades for example are utterly absent from the game because they’d prove infeasible in space – instead they are replaced with a selection of EMP and concussion grenades which are primarily useful for knocking enemies out from behind cover.
Speaking of cover, you can also expect Shattered Horizon to have plenty of mobile cover too – it’s pretty easy to use the same grenades to knock asteroids around as rudimentary vehicles.
We only got a chance to go 1v1 in our play with Shattered Horizon at Cologne, but there’s a closed beta about to start soon (which will hopefully go well and lead to a 2009 release) and we’ll definitely be in there having a closer look. Keep your eyes peeled for an extended bit-tech preview soon!