There has been some well-deserved success for developers Thatgamecompany over the last few years. Currently in a contract with Sony Computer Entertainment to release three downloadable games, their initial title Flow received a fair amount of praise, but it was with the release of their second title, Flower, that took them to new heights within the industry. The relaxing and intimate nature of the title ensured they were recognised for making quality games that didn’t force the player into conflicting scenarios, allowing them to go at their own pace. When the "are games art?" discussion is in full flow, these are the developers that are usually at the forefront of the "yes" argument, mainly due to their philosophy of creating experiences that aim to evoke specific emotions in the player.
In their next downloadable title for the Playstation Network, Journey, Jenova Chen and co. have moved far away from the countryside and cityscapes of their previous creation and have explored the vast (and mostly empty) sandy expanses of desert. I was lucky enough to get hold of the beta preview and dived right in to see if the style and relaxing nature of their previous releases was still present in Thatgamecompany's upcoming release.
Click here to see how Carl got on with his travels...
Spec Ops: The Line has only made the barest of dents in our gaming news up to now, but since I was able to get to grips with the pre-alpha build without any preconceptions, I was able to appreciate Yager's upcoming title on its own merits. It's a third-person shooter set in the cataclysmic ruins of Dubai after a series of massive sandstorms reduced the city to a lifeless desert... and though it's still taking shape, it's easy to see what they're driving at.
The story and setting is more than a little confusing, but here's what we know. Playing as grizzled lieutenant Martin Walker, you'll lead your team into the supposedly sterile environment to find a couple of missing Spec Ops squads... only to find that their commanders have gone full-on Apocalypse Now crazy. They're both carving out their own kingdoms and exploiting the terrified looters and inhabitants to do so.
The demo started in the destroyed ruins of an opulent hotel. Destroyed beauty has provided the art style for many many shooters, but Dubai provides a jarring contrast between the opulent hotels and arid sand dunes. Seeing crystal giraffes next to decaying bodies and genuine squalor is an obscene take on Dubai's massive class disparity. A falling mercenary shattered a recessed fish tank, showing off some seriously impressive glass effects even at this early stage.