God it was hot. Like, REALLY hot. I thought it was hot during that heat wave the UK had over the weekend, but this was ridiculous. Still, we didn't let a little sunshine ruin our day, and we eagerly dived into what lovable Russian publisher 1C-SoftClub had to offer.
Not a lot of actual 'new' new stuff to see - only two titles that weren't seen last year, but there was plenty of games to get our hands on and we've picked out the best for your perusal:
Best in Show: Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
We hadn't seen this game since GamesCom last year, although we've been keeping up with all the information coming out of Georgia. We finally managed to get some hands on time with this game, and boy were we impressed. This isn't just another WW2 FPS, this is a truly hardcore WW2-FPs. With the rise of franchises like Battlefield and Call of Duty (not that we have anything against them), the term 'hardcore' has kind of been lost to the genre.
Red Orchestra 2 though is unforgiving, and extremely compelling. There's very little feedback to the player - no mini-map, no ammo counters. Hell there's barely even a health counter. Tripwire have also implemented a rather neat first-person cover system, that works really well. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is due out in August this year, and we'll be doing a more extensive preview on it shortly.
And the rest...
Men of War: Condemned Heroes
One of only two truly 'new' titles on show this year, this one was a bit of a surprise. Condemned Heroes is from the same internal 1C studio that brought you Red Tide, and the soon to be released Vietnam single-player expansions. Heroes follows the tales of the long rumoured, but only recently confirmed Russian Penal Battalions that operated during World War 2.
These guys were given little equipment, but expected to take on impossible tasks, and we expect the single-player missions to revolved around similar scenarios. There were five playable missions available at the showcase, and the handful we tested had you controlling a small group of troops as they tried to do the impossible. Whether it will be well received or not remains to be seen. It's not due out until Q1 2012
Men of War: Assault Squad DLC #2
Not to spend too much time talking about a DLC pack, but the second (wait, there was as a first?) premium add on for Assault Squads adds five new skirmish maps - one for each faction. What's good about them though is that instead of the usual slugging your way from one end of the map to the other, you actually have to defend yourself against wave of enemies for thirty minutes, before going on a counter-offensive yourself.
It's due to be released on July 14th, and the enemy waves are said be randomised, increasing replay ability. They are also fully co-op, with up to 8 players being able to team up on these new maps. New units and abilities for the skirmish mode have also been included, the pack is going to come in at around 5 Euros. Well worth the money, we think.
Real Warfare 2: Northern Crusades
The sequel to 1C's lesser well-known but competent medieval RTS series, Northern Crusades adds a bit of Mount & Blade flair by adding a real-time and fully intractable campaign map. No longer are you just fighting a string of Total War-like RTS matches, you know have map to wonder around as well. Think of what Mount & Blade would be like if it had a budget, and was a strategy game as opposed to an RPG/Tactics game.
Northern Crusades is said to sport a unique combat system, with up to 80 different factors that can affect the performance of your troops. There's a single unifying story that revolves around the Teutonic Order in 13th Century Prussia, and there's multiplayer. There was playable code this year but we didn't get much time with it. The game is due out Q3/4 2011.
Ghosts of Moscow: Death to Spies
We saw this a little bit last year, although it was just simply Death to Spies 3 then. It seems to have been given a make-over in the last year or so, giving it a more Hitman feel against the cold-war espionage backdrop. You get to control three separate characters as you go about missions that can involve anything from you bugging a room, to taking out a guard, to simple eaves dropping.
This game also uses a brand new engine - Unreal 3 by the looks of things, three distinct locations, special abilities, gadgets, and mini-games. We got a bit of hands-on time with it, and it plays well enough although it will eventually be overshadowed when the likes of Hitman or other AAA equivalents come out. Still, worth looking into if you want something different, and it's due out on PC and Xbox 360 during Q4 2011.
1C's first MMO project, Royal Quest is being made by the same guys who've been making the King's Bounty RPG/Turn-based strategy games. Set in the fantasy land of Aura, the game has heroes roaming the land to try and protect it from the evil that always seems to befall fantasy lands these days.
Key components to the game are capturable castles - which provide loot and bonuses, Pets, which require care and can prove valuable allies, a deep elements system to help augment your strategies in combat, and a wide variety of weird and wonderful monsters to beat the crap out of. Even though there was a playable build, it was far from complete. Early days yet and so far we only have a release date of "2012".
Off Road Drive
This was one of the more interesting games that was there last year, and seemed fairly competent as well if you like off-road games. Due out later this year.
Men of War: Vietnam
This game is close to release now, so no need to dwell on this too much. We were given preview code to take away so expect something more comprehensive on this later.
Star Wolves 3: Ashes of Victory
This was seen last year, and we even did a preview based on the code at the time. Seems to have improved a lot in the past year.
Nothing to actually see of this official add-on to Red Orchestra 2 this year, but the producer was on hand to say that things are definitely moving, and that we should see something tangible soon. In the mean time, just think about Red Orchestra meets The Pacific, just better.
We'll be doing follow ups with some of these in the coming weeks, and off course reviews when the time comes. We were a little disappointed in the lack of 'brand-new' stuff being shown this year, but on the other hand many of the games shown last year seemed to have drastically improved in the past 12 months, so hopefully 1C will have a good quarter.
Best in Show: 1C's Prague'n'Play 2011
01 July 2011 | By Joe Robinson