GamesCom Cologne 2009 Day Two

Written by Joe Martin

August 21, 2009 | 10:42

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

Companies: #gamescom

Mass Effect 2

Platform: Xbox 360, PC

Mass Effect 2 is a title we’ll be looking at more closely in the weeks to come hopefully, once we’ve had a chance to actually venture off on whole missions and get a better idea of how the world has changed since Mass Effect 1. For now, all we can really say is that, contrary to what the teaser trailers made everyone believe, Shepherd is alive and the enhanced combat is totally awesome.

There’s a rocket launcher. There, we said it. There are new baddies and loads of new weapons and characters and another deep and involving storyline, sure – but what really grabbed us was the rocket launcher. It’s just so cool-looking in the way it pulls out of its holster and expands in a few clunks. Then when you put it to use, roll out of cover and lob an RPG at a nearby Eclipse Commando? Well, it puts most of the weapons in Borderlands to shame – and considering how many guns that game has, we’re really saying something.

Personal love for all-thing explosive aside, there’s been a handful of noticeable changes to the rest of the combat system in Mass Effect 2, all of which make the game easier and faster to play. The most subtle tweaks are to be found in the tactical UI for controlling new characters, and the radial menu, which function mostly the same as before but are a lot smoother to use. The darker and more action-orientated levels are a much more noticeable change since the first game.

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Not everything at GamesCom is about the latest trends

James Cameron’s Avatar

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

For a project that Cameron’s been planning for more than 14 years now, it was remarkable how little we knew about Avatar until we got a chance to go properly hands-on with the game of the film - even though most of what we saw of the game was unremarkable at best.

The story of an alien planet which is being harvested for a resource-hungry Earth by a company known as RDA, Avatar the film looks set to explore the issues of need as RDA troops slaughter the indigenous wildlife of the planet. All very stern stuff obviously, which was why we were a little disappointed to see that Avatar the game is little more than a third person shooter in a semi-open world. As you’d expect of the genre there’s all the usual features there too, such as vehicles and optional sidequests and so on.

There is a little more to the game admittedly, such as the option to play as either the RDA or the native Navi race, and the upgradeable skills that you get as you progress. There’s also a full 3D mode for those of you who have fancy TVs that work at 120Hz. On the whole though, we can’t deny being a little bit disappointed that all the hype has built up to is pretty much just a shooter like many others.

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There were plenty of e-sport events going on too

Alpha Protocol

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

This is, by far, the game that we most want from GamesCom 2009 so far. It simply looks fantastic and, if Sega and Obsidian manage to pull it off, this could be a decent spiritual successor to Deus Ex - you see why on the Alpha Protocol website. The plot certainly seems to fit, with players cast as a spy tasked with recovering some missing weapons who soon finds himself in over his head with shady secret organisations.

The gameplay seems a good match too, with multiple paths through levels and a structure that caters for stealthy, aggressive or wily character types. There's also a huge selection of weapon and equipment upgrades built on top of the extensive RPG system. At the same time though Alpha Protocol is also a shooter, albeit a story-driven one, where you can trade secrets for intelligence on missions and characters between objectives.

The story is suitably malleable too, with plenty of different routes and branching paths open to you for the estimated 35+ hour game time. Dozens of characters are left with their fates in your hands and it’s up to you whether you turn enemies into allies, allies into enemies, or just turn all of them into corpses. We honestly can’t wait to try this out properly.

Stay tuned for Day Three Coverage of GamesCom 2009 tomorrow!
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