GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Two

Written by Joe Martin

August 21, 2009 // 10:42 a.m.

Tags: #alpha-protocol #avatar #events #mass-effect-2 #preview

GamesCom 2009 Day Two

Another day has drawn to a close here in Cologne and as we ready ourselves to go enjoy the type of German nightlife that only a PC-specialist games journalist from the UK can get access to, there’s just enough time left for us to round up our thoughts on some of the day’s highlights.

We didn’t get to see quite as much of the show floor as we did yesterday, mainly because we’d cannily planned to slowly increase the number of behind-closed-doors previews we’d be seeing as the show wore on and we became more familiar with the layout. It was a plan that wasn’t at all affected by our desire to avoid the public portion of the show and be crushed by the swathes of our rushing fans. Honest.

After today we’ve only got one day left in Cologne, though the show is somehow supposed to hobble on for a little bit without us (or so they say) – so even though we haven’t had as much time to see everything, we’ve still made an effort to cram as much stuff in as possible. Here are our thoughts on some of the day’s highlights.

*GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Two GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Two
Arrive early, beat the queues!

Heavy Rain

Platform: PS3 Exclusive

If there’s one game that we’ve never wanted to be a console exclusive then it’s Quantic Dream’s frankly gorgeous looking Heavy Rain – a quicktime event-driven adventure game that builds on the mechanics first established in Fahrenheit, with multiple characters and an unusual, dark story.

Speaking of characters Quantic Dream founder David Cage took to the stage during the Sony press conference the day before the show to reveal the story behind one of the previously secret characters – an architect who lost his son a few years ago and has withdrawn into himself. Now faced with his remaining son getting in trouble with the law, he takes matters into his own hands and sets off to save his last child, constantly asking himself how far he is willing to go for the love of his son.

“How far would you go for love?” is the underlying theme and question around which the game is built according to Cage, who has been somewhat of a frontiersman in his efforts to bring emotional stories and tangible emotion to the medium of computer games. It’s a reputation that Heavy Rain looks set to enhance too – though we still have to admit that we aren’t fully convinced by the use of quicktime events in the game. We understand the thinking that they increase player tension and increase character empathy – but they’re also very annoying and distracting, which makes it a good thing that the QTEs in Heavy Rain are built of several branching events.

*GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Two GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Two
This was one of the most interesting exhibits in the Intel GameZone

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Platform: Nintendo DS exclusive

The new Zelda game for the Nintendo DS may feature a train instead of a boat as it’s central movement mechanic, but if what we’ve seen so far is any real indicator then the game as a whole won’t be hugely different to the ocean-bourne Phantom Hourglass. In fact, large portions of it seem almost identical – but we suppose that’s proved true for nearly every game in the franchise, as they iterate very, very slowly.

What new ideas there are perhaps aren’t as original as they seem either, such as the ability to control Phantoms when you’re in dungeons. Not only are the Phantoms themselves just obedient versions of the baddies from the original game, but they actually function very similarly to how the boomerang did in the last game too. After switching to Phantom Control you just trace a line on the screen and the Phantom follows it, so it’s mostly useful for hitting switches and disabling traps you can’t reach yet.

The Phantoms do have some new abilities though – like carrying you through lava on their backs, but it’s hardly ground-breaking stuff. The game itself may still be good on the whole of course, but the strengths seem to be mainly in what’s been carried over from previous Zelda games, not what’s new. It makes us ask, 'when are we going to see Nintendo do something truly amazing with Zelda again?'
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