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GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Three

MUD TV

Platform: PC Exclusive

Definitely one of the underdogs on the show floor considering some of the other games that we’ve seen, Kalypso’s MUD TV was still a breath of fresh air for us, providing welcome respite from the glut of increasingly violent and sadistic games we found ourselves swamped with. On the downside though, our experience with MUD TV left us permanently traumatised when it forced us to consider the possibility of an erotic film starring Mr. T aimed at the Male Yuppie demographic - which was one of the demands issued by an ad agency in this TV station simulator.

Once the shock wore off though we found ourselves liking the basic premise of establishing a TV station and then winning contracts, expanding your business and becoming the next Rupert Murdock; we’re just not sure what’s truly new about MUD TV. Everything about it feels a little bit too familiar, safe and lightweight. From the cartoony characters to the basic premise of the game, Kalypso’s attempt to modernise the TV sim genre doesn’t really feel like it’s modernised anything from what we’ve seen so far.

That’s not to say it doesn’t look good though – if you’re in the market for a decidedly tongue-in-cheek game that isn’t all about blowing up Nazis and rushing the enemy base with engineers and spies then MUD TV could be just the thing.

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The Nintendo Stand was probably the biggest single stand in the show

Alien versus Predator

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Peter Molyneux might have said that the third game in a franchise was always the problem child when he announced his own Fable 3 on the first day of the convention, but if he finds that the case then he could do well to take a few tips from Rebellion and Sega. Their third game in the AVP franchise looks like it’ll be no problem at all for it to scoop a couple of dozen awards for scariest shooter of the year.

Much of the fear that is the hallmark of the series comes in the Marine campaign obviously, where you’re constantly reminded that you’re naught but a weak meatbag dependant on a fully loaded M41a pulse rifle to survive. As well as doing your best to save your own skin and complete your objectives you also have to spend time repairing sentry guns and sealing doors to protect the civilians – if only from themselves. Suicide is an enticing option when faced with a towering Giger Alien.

Interestingly though, there’s plenty to get scared about in the Alien campaign too, which Rebellion unveiled for the first time at the show today. Expect us to be writing more details about AVP and the Alien campaign in particular, as well as a lengthy chat we had with Rebellion’s Head of Art and Design, but for now we’ll just say that it’s as scary as any other game mode. The Alien campaign gives you a feeling of stealthy superiority admittedly, but it’s also very lonely without a squad to back you up. When the Marine AI has mastered the art of flushing air vents with flamethrowers and using flares to light your hiding places you’ll want very much for a gang of Aliens to be helping you out.

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No, we don't know what this is either

Mount and Blade: Warband

Platform: PC Exclusive

Very much a cult hit, Mount and Blade has been steadily growing in popularity lately despite the aging graphics and slightly rough edges – and rightfully so. While the original game could definitely have done with a bit more polish and professional finish, the feeling of being just a very small (and vulnerable) part of a much larger medieval world is something you usually only see in AAA MMOs, not relatively unknown RPGs.

It pleased us greatly then to see that the new expansion pack, Warband is coming along so nicely and even though it hasn’t totally overhauled the obviously weak graphics, the multiplayer-focused expansion has added a few nice touches. Bump-mapping, bloom and higher-res textures are all on the feature list this time around, though the character models are still a bit on the ugly side.

What really surprised us though was to find out that the previously touted feature of 32 player multiplayer was only a conservative estimate – Paradox hopes to have 64 player support by release, across a number of different game modes. The singleplayer hasn’t been entirely neglected either, with players getting a bunch of new quests and items to fiddle with, as well as the option to start and lead their own in-game faction.

That’s it for now from GamesCom 2009 – but check back soon for some more in-depth features and previews on these and more games.

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