Codemasters at E3
Whenever I go to E3 I always have this habit of making my way to the Codemasters booth, a UK-based company with a penchant for making high-quality games that are consistently entertaining and beautiful. For some strange reason though, the company has this tendency of keeping its games off the floor and instead, showing them inside this enclosed tent and away from the prying eyes of the public. Oh well, I guess that just means less crowding for me.
The company managed to make quite a splash; not an easy feat considering that Ati’s Half Life 2 theatre and Square Enix were within a stone’s throw of the booth. Yet the company managed to attract a consistently large crowd thanks to great activities centered around the insanely popular American Idol franchise. Two competitions and autograph sessions featuring two of the show’s judges, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, made the booth worth stopping by. While on the outside the booth was a teeming hotbed of calamity, the good stuff was on the inside. Today we take a short look at some of the eye-catching titles that Codemasters put on display at this year's show. If rally racing, pop singing and football is your bag, then you're definitely in for a treat.American Idol
As much as we hate to admit it, some of us were addicted to Fox's hit reality show, American Idol. Looking to capitalize on the show's astronomical ratings, Codemasters is developing a rhythm-based game that allows the gamer to place themselves into the role of a budding contestant.
Utilizing a very unique set of cel-shaded renderers, American Idol has a look that is very unique and true to the image. Playing as a contestant, players will have to press the corresponding buttons as the icons pass on the screen. Gameplay is very similar to other rhythm-based games such as DDR and Gitaroo Man.
Players will be judged based on their accuracy and timing. The better the player performs the more confident the on-screen avatar sings and dances. Likewise, committing errors will cause the character to lose its composure and sing off-key and dance off-beat.
Like the show, you will be criticized at the end of each performance by the real judges of the show. The comments in the E3 build were rather generic and sparse but with Simon Cowell's wit at their disposal, we're certain that Codemasters will have much more up their sleeves.
What's American Idol without licensed music? Thankfully, the folks at Codemasters were able to secure over 40 of today's most popular and recognizeable songs for the title. To give an example of the kind of music to expect, the E3 build featured Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again" as one of the playable tracks. Be afraid, be very afraid.
As ashamed as you may be to admit it, these rhythm-based games are a blast to play. While we don't exactly feel manly when owning up to it, we're excited to see how this game will turn out.
Colin McRae Rally 4
PC, PS2, Xbox
Listening to the complaints that gamers had about last year’s game Codemasters has decided to unlock the career mode to all vehicles and drivers. No longer will you be forced to look at the ugly backside of the Ford Focus, you’ll now be able to take all of your favorite vehicles, such as the Subaru Impreza, on a world-wide tour.
There are a few changes beneath the surface as well. Codemasters assured us that tweaks have been made to the game’s physics system in order to ensure the most realistic rally performance on the market. After taking the game for a small test drive the changes were imminent; vehicles have a much higher tendency to lose control , especially when too much power is given to the vehicle in turns. Finesse driving is the key to success in rally racing and it looks like Codemasters is doing its best to emphasize this point.
True beauty resides on the surface and Codemasters hasn’t neglected this aspect either. It looks like the game has received a significant facelift and the tracks and roadside objects will be receiving the most benefit. Most of the complaints revolving the visuals in last year’s game revolved around the rather lackluster trackside models. This time around you’ll see nice touches such as individually rendered blades of grass that sway in the wind.
Codemasters ensured us that many more surprises await us when the game is released later on this year in the UK and early next year in the US. Whatever those surprises may be, we’re certain that it’s going to make the best rally title on the PS2 that much better and for Xbox owners? Well let’s just say that Microsoft Rallisport 2 was nowhere to be seen.
WWII Frontline Command
“Holy crap!” That’s what my colleague James Stevenson and I said in unison as out demo-er zoomed in and out of the game’s landscape. Each of the battlefields in this WWII-themed real-time-strategy game is just huge, we’re talking miles and miles of landscape to work with here. This lends an amazing sense of scale to the game that really shows the scope and relative insignificance of a band of soldiers fighting for their lives. In the same level, we saw one group of guys fighting against some soldiers holed up in a barn while literally miles away, we saw some soldiers doing combat in a wheat field. The sense of scale lends a “big combat” feel to the game, making each battle feel significant and epic.
The build we witnessed was still in early development so we weren’t able to get a good gauge on the finer intricacies of the game. Buildings and such look rather basic but were diverse enough to lend the feeling that the setting of the battle could really exist somewhere in the real world. Vehicles, units and such all looked pretty amazing as well, both from the closest and farthest vantage points.
Witnessing the battles was pretty entertaining, even though we didn’t get to get our grubby little mitts on the game. We have this sneaking suspicion that this will be one of those WWII-themed games that just pops out of nowhere and takes the gaming world by storm. Go ahead, try to prove us wrong.
We didn’t spend much time with this one as we were a little pressed for time, but we did manage to catch a glimpse of it in action. In recent years soccer games have risen in popularity, especially in the United States when World Cup Fever took over for a good portion of the summer. EA Sports has been known for consistently producing the number one selling soccer title here in the US but other companies have been quickly catching up to the frontrunner. Konami’s Winning Eleven 6 was without a doubt, the best soccer game to come out so far this year, but Codemasters is looking to answer with this doozy.
Being billed as a game by fans for fans. How realistic is this game? It features seventeen different versions, each endorsed by a major European club such as Manchester United, Liverpool, AC Milan and a whole host of others. Now you can not only wear your devotion to your favorite team on your shirt but also on your video game.
At this stage the game looks amazing, featuring some of the most fluid animation and intricately rendered player models we've ever seen in a sports game. It still has to be seen how the action on the pitch compares to other footy titles but we have the utmost of confidence in this team of Britons.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile