Saturday was definitely an interesting day. Not much in the way of actual gaming went on, but the games I did get to play/see were big ones. It was also my first experience of being there at the very start for the insane opening rush. We arrived at Koelnmesse over an hour before opening and there was already a crowd massing which just kept growing the closer we got to the main halls. Alan’s goal was firmly set at Diablo 3 which we managed to get to in very good time, and as a result there was only a 30 minute wait as opposed to a 3 hour one! This was also by far the busiest day, and gamescom had to close down for hours to try and calm the crowds. It was already over capacity and thousands more wanted in. We had to take a break for a few hours at around lunch to get away from the madness. Here are my impressions of the day’s gaming and events:
We were about to queue for hours for Diablo 3, but thanks to being at the front of the morning rush we were able to get in very quickly and were among the first few people of the day to play. I really enjoyed Diablo 3, and it brought back good memories of playing Diablo on the playstation when I was younger, and again a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I never managed to play Diablo 2 so I can’t really draw comparisons, but the gameplay felt quite faithful to the original. Being able to equip abilities to enhance your weapons is a very good gameplay mechanic, and the range of items was excellent as usual and retaining the item identification mechanic was also nice to see. I didn’t have a lot of time to play so I was in one dungeon but it was fun, and the range of enemies was also good. I played as the Demon Hunter, but it would be good to have experienced a few other classes. There was also time to level the character once during the demo, though I just improved a current ability. Typical…as soon as I found a halfway decent bow I was tapped on the shoulder and told my time was up. Despite only playing briefly I can tell Diablo 3 is going to be a very good game, and hopefully we’ll see it released soon.
Thankfully the demo was starting soon after we joined the queue so there wasn’t a long wait, but I had mixed feelings about Infinite. We were herded into a small cinema booth and introduced to a developer from Irrational Games who introduced the game and the individual who would be playing the demo “live”. I say “live” because it was a scripted demo from the look of it, with a person pretending to hold a controller and play. English unfortunately ended there. He handed over to the German announcer so we weren’t able to understand anything beyond this point. The gameplay spoke for itself though. The graphics looked excellent, and really I expected nothing less from BioShock. For a synopsis of the story so far have a look here. The section of the game we were watching covered some of the fight between the two main game factions, The Founders and the Vox Populi who rose to oppose them. The environments really are breathtaking, and allowing you to choose whether to join in or just walk away from fights in the street is a nice touch. Not having nearly every living soul as an enemy is a breath of fresh air compared to the other games where splicers were hardly welcoming. A very important part of gameplay is, of course, the actual fighting. The weapons look excellent, though I have a rather major niggle. From the demo it became apparent that only two weapon slots are available, as opposed to being able to collect all the weapons in the previous games. I could maybe understand this in a realistic shooter, but in a game set in a floating city realism isn’t the first thing I would worry about. This could introduce another element of challenge into the game though, as players will be forced to work with what is available rather than the most powerful weapons all the time. Elizabeth, your companion who you are charged with rescuing, also adds a new mechanic where you can open time rifts though it’s kinda hard to explain and it’s probably best just to watch a gameplay video to get what I’m talking about. All in all it looked very interesting, but they really should have had a playable demo at this stage to really show off their project.
Electronic Sports League – League of Legends
This was my first experience of a big live gaming event, and there were some insanely heated matches, with a great supporting crowd too. The teams were playing in the Intel Extreme Masters 2011 c0mpetition, and there were some pretty decent prizes up for grabs for the winners too. The shoutcasters were excellent as well, and despite not really having an interest in it before, it really makes a good spectators sport.
Overall it was a quieter day, mainly because we tried to avoid the crowds and because it was the third day. Gamescom really is tiring! I’ll have more tomorrow