From the cold shore of Iceland to the bustling streets of London, our next round-up article looks at French publisher Focus Home Interactive. They’ve had mixed success over the past couple of years, from definite highs like Wargame: European Escalation, to near-abysmal lows like the two Game of Throne games they made. 2013 though is definitely going to be an interesting one for them, as a variety of titles – many of them looking quite interesting – should see them hit a wide range of audiences. Here’s a quick overview of what we saw, and what we thought:
Wargame: AirLand Battle
Wargame was at the show, and whilst it was technically hands-on there were still many features missing from this build. It was still using the European Escalation launcher, for example, so you'll have to hang on until we get access to a better preview build to give you some more impressions.
We got to see some things at work though – some new units, the new way infantry interact with buildings for garrisoning, and the new engine. What was really interesting though is seeing how aircraft fit in. Their impact is actually less than you’d think, at the moment. The new AA-units you can field to deal with these fast moving jets are actually pretty effective, and it only takes two hits to knock a bomber or a jet out of the air. This means that you’ll want to assign them a mission, then get them the bitch out of range as quickly as possible before the enemy AA shoots it down, there’s unlikely to be any time for lingering.
We also saw a very, very rudimentary version of the campaign map, although we can’t really say much here at this stage. We’re definitely looking forward to this one though.
The Portal-with-magnetics action-puzzle game gave us a surprise twist when we went hands-on with it at the showcase. Not only will you be solving magnetic puzzles in space, but you’ll also be doing battle with lovecraftian-inspired monsters. What? Yeah, we’ve got no idea either. What’s clear though is that this funky title is going to have more depth to it than I think anyone realises yet, and anyone who underestimates it does so at their peril.
Three early levels, and then one of the later levels that features the new monsters were available to play, and it’s fascinating to watch the style of the game change across that small snippet of gameplay. Everything starts off very clean and ‘Portal’-like, but as you progress through the game, not only do the environments get more and more run down (the last level looks like you’re on some kind of asteroid-castle-dungeon thing), but you also have to start doing more complex shenanigans with the magnetism, such as using momentum and quick-fire magnet firing. We’re not even shown HOW you start fighting the monsters yet, as we weren’t able to get past the bit before that, much to our shame.
Magrunner probably wins the award for most surprising game of the show, only because we totally didn’t see the whole lovecraft/monster thing coming. This is definitely a game to put on your watch-list, and I think even Valve may even get a bit of a run for their money.
Mars War Logs
We like the idea of Mars: post-apocalyptic sci-fi world with just the right amount of mystery, and yet it’s way more subtle and paced than Mass Effect ever was. It looks and plays very much like an RPG with great ideas, but not quite the budge to back it up too, which is a shame, but the developers have compensated for this rather well, we feel. As you may remember from our previous coverage of the game, Mars War Logs is only about 15 hours long, and they’re hoping to have a more episodic business model, with similar length sequels carrying on the story of Mars.
We only got a brief go of it – the cut scenes and conversation elements take up a lot more time than you’d think, but the exploration and combat mechanics are on par with what you’d expect. There seems to be a really good and thematically driven progression and gear system though, with you being able to cobble together weapons from all sorts of junk.
Short and sweet, we’re very interested in seeing how War Logs holds up as a gaming experience, and we hope it does well enough to warrant them doing more ‘episodes’.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment
The ninth seventh Holmes game has been announced barely 6 months after the release of the previous game – The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. What the fans want, they get, it seems, and while this latest adventure doesn’t seem to have as good a hook as Jack the Ripper or Watson trying to figuring out if Holmes has lost it, it should still prove to offer more of that investigative goodness.
Sherlock Holmes himself has a new look, and there are reported to be around eight cases for you to get to grips with, covering everything from murder, to theft, to kidnapping & disappearances. As always you interview witnesses, gather clues, and using the revamped deduction board system you have to try and figure out what’s happened. The twist is, there could be several different ‘endings’ or ‘deductions’ you could come to, depending on how you interpret the evidence you found. You could quite easily deduce the wrong conclusion, but the game has a specific continuation set aside for that conclusion, and the game will move on regardless. Whether or not you get it ‘wrong’ (the developer was a bit unclear on whether there is a ‘right’ answer, with the others being ‘wrong’), your choices will be reflected later on the game, which is always nice.
The game will be coming to 360 and PS3 again, as well as PC. So keep an eye out for this one.
Farming Simulator 2013
Who’s buying these games anyway? Where are you? SHOW YOURSELF! Despite the game having been out for a couple of months now, Focus never-the-less wanted to show off the upcoming 360 version of the game. It’s got all of the features you’d see in the PC build – although graphically they’ve had to scale back to handle the 360’s 256mb of memory. Further to this though, there are new vehicles and a new ‘America’ map that console users will get bundled in with the game, and that PC users can purchase separately.
The most surprising bit of the presentation, it has to be said, was when the demonstrator called the game a ‘casual simulator’. I’m not sure how meticulously going up and down a corn field to harvest the corn, or worse yet having the AI do it whilst you follow beside said harvester so that it can dump its harvest into your trailers, could ever be considered as ‘casual’.
Still, it seems to play well so far though. Think of it as a really, really slow Need for Speed or Forza and you’ll be fine.
Not something we’ve encountered before, and it’s seemingly not connected to the 2004 survival horror game either. A more tongue-in-cheek action game than survival horror, you get to play as one of four archetypal college students who’ve been abandoned in a run-down theme park. Which happens to be infested with monsters. Reminiscent of Shank, this action-platformer has you essentially going from A to B, killing monsters as you go, although sometimes you have fetch-it objectives too.
Your characters all have different specialisations – the ‘bad-boy’ is good with guns, for example, and his abilities revolve around spraying a lot of lead. In fighting off the demonic hordes though, you’ll have a variety of abilities at your disposal – suplexs and wrestling moves, juggling mobs in the air, grabbing and throwing stuff, shooting explosive elements of the environment.
We’ll try to get you a more in-depth hands-on preview, but this is looking like a fun title that could be good for those who liked Shank and want more like it.
That’s it from our round-up of the recent Focus Home Interactive showcase – a lot of varied and interesting titles on show for this year, and we can’t wait to see how it all pans out. Keep an eye on the site for updated news and pre-release impressions, and as always we’ll get our final verdicts to you as soon as we can.