Notes from the GamerScoreBlog tour

by: Chuck -
Dan and I flew up to Chicago on Sunday for the first stop on the Gamerscore Blog tour.  We got to hang with John, Tony, and Chris from Microsoft and play a bunch of upcoming games for the 360 and Games for Windows.  I didn't get a chance to play everything they had but here's my report of what stood out to me.

ShadowRun  - My previous experiences with the ShadowRun beta had left something of a sour taste in my mouth but playing the  near final version of the game has changed my mind.  The game looks a bit better and I got a better feel for the game.  The game definitely has a bit of a learning curve and people are really going to play as a team (i.e. not just deathmatch) to really enjoy the game.  I am starting to think that the game might actually play/sell better on the PC.  I guess we’ll see what happens when the game goes on sale in a few weeks.
 
Vampire Rain – I had high hopes for this Japanese game and I have to say that I was a bit let down.  The graphics are excellent and feature some very pretty water effects but the game is very, very slow paced.  The tutorial levels are painful to get through with the first tutorial having you avoiding eye contact by the undead in the game.  You do this by walking behind a truck that’s conveniently parked in front of the alley.  You do this twice…seriously.  The first level of the game extends the tutorial a bit further and the dialog is a bit painful.  I only got through part of the first level and the game may pick up after that. Those with a fetish for stealth games will probably want to check this out but more action oriented gamers will probably want to pass on this one,.  
 
Project Slypheed- I absolutely loved this game and fans of space flight games are in for a treat.  The game has kind of an anime/Freespace feel to it but with kick-ass graphics.  Of the games I played at the show this was the one that impressed me the most.  The controls were smooth and it was very easy to pick up and play.  There were a few occasions where the frame dropped a bit (during some of the larger battles) but for the most part the game ran well and played well.  It's not an easy game but if you're a fan of flight games this is probably going to be worth your time.
 
Undertow- I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with this upcoming XBLA title but what I did see was very impressive.  I didn’t understand exactly what I was supposed to do (something about capturing control points underwater) but the game allows you to play one of four different classes and battle it out against an opposing team.  The left thumbstick controls movement with the right thumbstick controller where you fire.  The right trigger allows you a quick burst of speed while holding down the X button opens up the full turbo.  While the cut-scenes aren’t that good the actual in game graphics take full advantage of the Unreal Engine 3. The single player experience is fun but I think this would be a blast when played with a lot of other people.
 
Track and Field – if you loved the arcade game you’re going  to love this near perfect recreation of the classic quarter eater.  I didn’t play the game (expect a full report from Dan later)but  after watching everybody play the game I think Microsoft might be using this game to sell replacement controllers.  To control the running and what-not you can use the A-B button combo or you can flip the left thumbstick back and forth (simulating the old quarter across the two buttons trick).  I’d be interested to see how many 360 controllers the GSB folk go through during the course of the road trip.

Forza 2 - I really didn't get to play a lot of Forza while I was there.  The insane taxi driver who took us to and from the hotel has made me a little leary of driving but what I saw of the game was decent.  There's a very large collection of cars and the game does have damage models so when you clip the moron in his rear fender you'll actually see the damage on his car.  Should appeal to racing fans and those who loved the first game.

Thanks again to the guys at Microsoft for inviting us in and answering our questions and going easy on us in ShadowRun
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