Last, but certainly not least, I bring you some hands-on impressions from the other titles Paradox had to show that we were allowed to play. Over the two-day period, we got decent two-hour blocks with Impire, Cities in Motion 2 AND the Showdown Effect, all of which are slated for release over the next couple of months. Let’s see how they are faring up.
Cities in Motion 2
The first Cities in Motion game had some good ideas, but was a little boring to play in the long-run. Sure, it was interesting to see your chosen city develop over time, but if you’re playing a long term game like that, eventually everything became a bit stale. Cities in Motion 2 aims to fix that by cutting right to the chase: A modern setting, with modern modes of transportation all unlocked at once, and larger regions with which to play around with. Some regions can have multiple cities/districts in them, allowing for a lot of different kinds of expansion, and the cities evolve dynamically depending on what you do.
The toolset can be a little fiddly to get to grips with, in terms of placing tracks and making sure everything measures up. Ironically, this is mainly a problem in the tutorial, as due to the very scripted nature of that scenario (for the purposes of teaching); you’re not allowed to actually un-do any mistakes you’ve made. This lead to some hilarious instances of me just putting down track everywhere to try and force an objective to complete. Hiccup aside though, there’s a lot of potential here for those who love to bury themselves in detail. The sandbox map I tried out after the tutorial, for example, had several major towns and cities spread all over the place, with massive lakes in between. This laid the ground-work for having a massive suburban rail-line, ferry services and the usual bus and tram options for within individual districts.
So far, so good we’d say. We’re looking forward to really getting to grips with the game, as the more in-depth options like wages, individual line management and the new timetable system we kind of left alone as to not get too bogged down. For people who love details though, this is going to be the game’s bread and butter.
You’ll remember Impire from when we covered it back at GamesCom last year. It was pretty feature complete even then, and we’re glad we were able to spend a couple of hours with it at this year’s Paradox Convention. It plays really well – the management features are easy to use and all in one place, there’s shortcuts and tool tips for just about everything.
What really stands out about Impire though is its charm. The voice acting is great, with some good banter between Baal, the Imp, and his ‘advisor’ that summoned him who acts as your help guide. Plus, the way the gameplay just comes alive as well is fascinating to watch sometimes. Most rooms that you can build require a worker to man, and these have unique animation sets that they will cycle through, even when no-one’s around. Later in the game, when you start capturing Heroes, you can throw them in a torture room, or in the practice room, which is always funny to watch as well.
As far as the actual game goes – we were only able to play through the tutorial level, which took a good two hours all on its own. Not because it was difficult, but it’s deliberately paced to introduce you to all of the different elements gradually. The management side of things won’t be the most time-consuming, we don’t think – between questing for loot and resources, and keeping your dungeon safe from pesky heroes, we reckon your attention will be split between several areas at once, which makes the enhanced navigation tools a god send.
This has probably been said a lot by now, but the Dungeon Keeper vibe is definitely alive and kicking in this game, and we’re definitely looking forward to it. Check back soon for our full review.
The Showdown Effect
Those crazy mofos at Arrowhead have done it again. You always worry that when a person or a company is trying to move on from something as successful as Magicka, they’ll spend more time chasing their success than actually making a decent product. I felt that way about M. Night Shyamalan after The Sixth Sense, but luckily that doesn’t seem to be the case for The Showdown Effect.
The Showdown Effect is an entirely different game to Magicka though, and requires an entirely different set of skills. More twitch-based than anything else, Showdown is fast past and action packed. You get to choose from a small number of action-hero stereo-types, customise their looks and the two weapons they can take into combat, and then go nuts. The maps are a mixture of open spaces and corridors, with many options to get from one end to another. They’re spacious, but not massive, and it’s quite easily to lose someone if there’s only two of you left. There’s plenty of fun to be had though as you run through the environment. You can slide along the floor, shooting as you go, you climb up places by bouncing from wall to wall, but you can just as easily grab onto a wall and slide down, again, shooting as you go. Some maps even have elevators and stuff you can use to quickly change locations.
This is definitely going to be a game that will be fun to play, but hard to master. There’s rhythm to movement, for example, in terms of easily running along, jumping over obstacles and climbing walls, and it’s quite east to get it wrong. Shooting requires you to aim with the mouse and shoot, which doesn’t sound hard by when your enemy is bouncing around like a crazy person, accuracy is difficult. There’s also mêlée combat as well, which has its own rhythm – it’s always satisfying to chop someone in half.
A good line-up then for Paradox going into 2013 – with most of it coming sooner rather than later though, we can’t wait to see what they’ve got lined up for later in the year. Until next year.