You have to hand it to the big games people. They really know how to throw a preview event. In-room snackage, well-stocked mini-fridges at regular intervals and keen staff whisking eight groups of journalists and industry folk around three floors and a dozen gaming areas. And all so we could get a sneak peek at EA’s 2010 titles, a mix of revamps, sequels and some brand spanking new titles that, on this evidence, promise a lot. Yes, Bulletstorm, I’m talking about you and your wisecracks and plant-massacring weaponry.
As the sidekick in Bulletstorm says at one point, “The shit I’ve seen would turn your asshole purple.” Yes. Quite. I’m not sure that fully applies to EA’s roster, but there should certainly be some good stuff hitting those shelves.
Due to various embargos, I can’t talk about Need For Speed World until early next week (when I can also tell you a bit more about Bulletstorm) but I can give you the skinny on Medal of Honor IV – and it looks like a little cracker.
As has already been announced, the new title brings the series crashing up to date. No more World War II heroics await. This time you’re being dropped in the middle of Afghanistan and, just to make sure you take care of your “charge”, the trailer (and opening scene) gives you a taste of what he’s fighting for: the loving family back home. Sniff.
This slick preview suggests you’ll be playing a US Army Ranger, the brute force that go and clear villages and forests and storm buildings etc. It’s gung ho action stuff – “we’re Rangers, this is what we do” – but, in this instance, it’s only part of the story. Yes, you’ll be playing a Ranger but you’ll also be playing a “Tier One” operative, the highly-trained special forces type. If the Rangers are the “sledgehammer” of the armed forces, Tier One is the scalpel.
But it doesn’t end there. You’ll also be playing a helicopter pilot and, very likely, some other characters as the story develops but they’re keeping that under their hats for the time being, ditto the likelihood of online co-operative play. “Maybe” is the only answer we could elicit from the EA producer leading the demo.
And what a demo. Your Ranger has been dropped into the Shahikot Valley with the rest of the Corps, but there’s a problem. The Taliban have a machine gun position further down the valley that’s keeping your guys pinned down and it’s so well armed it could “rip a Chinook apart”. What they need then is a small group of brave volunteers to slip out of the wadi, sneak around the sides, pick off the extremely well-hidden Taliban and clear up that position. Any volunteers?
As the title card says, “four have made it this far” and you are, of course, one of those.
While 15 minutes of one level clearly isn’t enough to get a grips on a game, this is looking like a strong contender in a clearly overcrowded market. It’s graphically superior to pervious MoH titles and, best of all, if this limited basis is indicative of the game as a whole, the AI problems seem to be long forgotten. MoH AI has long been a Goldilocks affair – it’s either too hard or too soft – but this feels just right. It’s no walk in the park that’s for sure: even in seasoned EA hands, enemy bullets find their target with relative ease and could come from anywhere in the vast, well-detailed landscape. Happily you’ve got a very powerful sight on your gun, and believe me it’s going to get some use as you try and pick off the enemy as they hide at distance behind rocks, lurk in doorways or booby trap buildings.
On the downside, yes, it’s still just a first-person shoot-em-up but if that bit ain’t broke... Obviously it’s early days but I’m now a lot more excited about this’un than I was at the beginning of the week. It hits UK shelves on October 15th so more on that nearer the time. And more on the multi-player stuff too, as we hear about it.
Coming soon: Bulletstorm, Need For Speed World and an early look at Star Wars: The Old Republic...