SEGA was good enough to invite us to check out many of their upcoming games at E3 2007, so we went and what we saw were some eagerly anticipated titles among some that were lesser known. What we saw from SEGA was Universe At War: Earth Assault on the Games For Windows platform (also coming to the Xbox 360, but only shown on the PC), Space Siege also for the PC, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games for the Wii, The Golden Compass for the Xbox 360 (also coming to the PS2, PC, Wii, PSP, DS, and PS3), Condemned 2 for the Xbox 360 (as well as the PS3), and lastly Ironman on the Xbox 360 (also coming to other next generation systems). In the Barker Hangar we also got a look at NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for the Wii. All in all the lineup was looking real solid for SEGA.
First, let me mention that everything was in playable form, however, we were not allowed to play any of the games mentioned above. There were playable games in the hangar, such as Virtua Fighter 5 for the Xbox 360 and Ghost Squad for the Wii among several others, but for the most part we saw only the games mentioned above due to time restrictions and the travel limitations provided by the show.
The first game we saw was Space Siege, a futuristic take on the action-RPG from Gas Powered Games, the same folks who brought you Dungeon Siege I and II as well as Supreme Commander. In Space Siege they’ve got some interesting concepts that they are trying to implement into the game, not the least of which are large environments. Despite the action (that we saw anyway) being set within a giant spaceship, the action can take place on multiple levels, so taking advantage of your surroundings is a nice bonus. Not like other games where you should be able to attack from above, but are limited to only attacks on a “same floor” basis. The main goal in Space Siege, however, is to progress through the game and make the decision whether to decrease your humanity while at the same time increasing your robotic influence. As you become more robotic your interaction with NPC’s will change and thereby changing your game. Your humanity keeps you in touch with both yourself and NPC’s and has a different influence based on what sort of upgrades you choose to include on your character. Space Siege isn’t due out until 2008, but for the hack and slash crowd looking for something a little different, this one may be one to keep an eye out for.
Next we saw Universe at War: Earth Assault, due out for the PC as well as Xbox 360. Universe at War is a RTS (Real Time Strategy) game from Petroglyph, the same group who made Star Wars: Empire at War. The concept this time is that the planet is caught in the midst of an intergalactic war between three rival groups. Each group has their own strengths and weaknesses and means of gathering resources. So, you’re not really confined to pulling resources from one collective pot between the groups. There are a lot of really cool features that the team wants to implement in Universe at War: Earth Assault. Each side has a lot of unique attributes that make the game worth playing, one is heavy on the weapons, while another is weaker, but works more efficiently as a team and can place more units on the playing field to swarm the opponent. The game also looks great. The units aren’t all tiny vehicles, instead you get large buildings and large robotic crab like walkers and other unique looking units. Of course the multiplayer will be the focus, but there will also be a nice campaign mode for a balanced out single player experience. Universe at War: Earth Assault is due out this fall on the PC and Spring 2008 for the Xbox 360 version.
After this we were taken to see one of the more understated games of the show, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. What we saw were some simple minigames that hearken back to the days of Track & Field for the NES. Things like the Hammer Toss, Triple Jump, and 100 Meter Dash, but this time instead of button mashing, you’re using the Wii Remote in some pretty creative ways. According to them they plan to have somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty total Olympic events (I vote for the Ribbon or Trampoline) with several other non-Olympic events created just for this game. When I asked them about leaderboards for all your friends online, they said that this was something that they were hoping to implement, so that maybe one day there can truly be a world record, but that it was something that is not at the moment part of the game. Here’s to hoping that they do include this feature because it can only help to add replay value to the game. Being able to see your friends high scores can only make you want to play again, right? You’ve got to beat that high mark for bragging rights. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is due out this fall for the Wii and the Nintendo DS.
After this, SEGA showed us The Golden Compass on the Xbox 360. Based on the “His Dark Materials” series of books, The Golden Compass is based on the first book which is being turned into a feature film this fall. In the game you play the role of Lyra as you move about the world from the book and movie. There are various levels which will require different strategies and Lyra uses her animal friends to aid her at any and every point. Each animal adds a different ability to Lyra’s arsenal, so whether it’s flying, climbing or swinging through the stage Lyra has a friend to assist her. The team has been working closely with New Line Cinema in order to bring the gamer an experience that can rival with the film. They’ve even gone so far as to spend time studying polar bears to view their movements, so that they can represent them more realistically when Lyra rides the back of her armor clad bear, Pan. From what we saw this will be a nice complement to the film and book for fans of all ages. The Golden Compass is due out this fall right alongside the movie.
Next up was Condemned 2, the sequel to the Xbox 360 launch title Condemned. Condemned 2 takes place a little after where the original left off, you take control of the same character, a former FBI agent now tormented by what he’s experienced. On the hunt for answers to what has gone awry in his life he comes upon further mysteries, more dead bodies and a lot of people looking to seriously hurt him. The way the developers put it was like this, “Condemned 2 is everything we wanted to do in the original Condemned.” Visually the game looks better, they’ve increased the level of detail, but more importantly they’ve added a lot of elements to the game that try to make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. You can now interact with virtually anything in the environment. For example, they showed us in their play-through that you can grab on to an enemy you then have a choice of smashing his head through a TV set in the corner or breaking his neck. In this case they broke his neck, but that option was there. You can grab objects and throw them at people, whether it’s ripping a pipe off of a wall or a bat laying around you can throw it. But that also means the opposite works, too. They can throw objects at you, luckily you can catch them and throw them right back, or maybe you can just play a game of catch until one of you misses it and takes a pipe to the grill. They’ve also revamped the forensics system, added multiplayer, which they would not speak of, and a little mode that they were calling “Hobo Fight Club” which is basically a survival mode where you take on “hobo’s” in an arena for as long as you can. Condemned 2 looks like it will be one extremely good game. The developers are really pushing the envelope for mature content the likes of which will surely have the cloud of controversy surrounding it. Condemned 2 is due out spring 2008.
The final game SEGA showed us at this location was Iron Man. Everyone who knows comics, knows Iron Man aka Tony Starks. We saw one stage in Iron Man where the ferrite one himself battles against a whole slew of enemies using all sorts of his super cool gadgetry. He’s got all his armaments at his disposal and on top of that he can catch things like missiles in mid-air and throw them right back at the enemy. The majority of the stage in Iron Man that we saw revolved around a snow covered mountain top. The graphics looked nice enough, but it’s hard to tell just how well the finished product will look like. The development team promises all sorts of extras that won’t exclude things like extra suits and the like. They wouldn’t commit to anything because they’re not really allowed to say more than they can, so while they wouldn’t confess to it, they did say that they were thinking of it with huge smirks on their face, implying that it will all be in there. This will be released around the same time as the Iron Man film, which is to say sometime around May 2008.
Lastly of all the games that we saw was NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for the Wii. The original NiGHTS was released back on the SEGA Saturn and included it’s very own controller. This time around SEGA not having a console of their own means that the sequel they said they might never make, is being released on the Wii. The Nintendo Wii offers what SEGA felt would be a logical console to play their newest NiGHTS game on, namely a unique control scheme and non-traditional play mechanics that no other console can recreate. NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams offers you two distinct playable characters, Will or Helen, each with their own journey and lots of replay value. The areas you explore will be huge and while this is probably not a just comparison, think of Super Mario 64, put him in the air and incorporate a motion sensitive controller and you’ve sort of got NiGHTS. Again, it’s not really a fair comparison, but it is, at least in essence, a platformer. Despite the fact that the game is only a couple of months away they did not allow us to play it, photograph it or video it. However, the game looks great and will be a boost in the arm for the Wii and its innovative control mechanics.
The only other game that I actually got to play from SEGA was Virtua Fighter 5. Considered by many to be the best fighting franchise ever, Virtua Fighter 5 for the XBox 360 looks to take it to the next level (Hmmm that sounds familiar). Released months ago on the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 version will be the only version that offers online play. Virtua Fighter 5 looks tremendous and it’s hard to imagine the game looking any better. Hopefully, Virtua Fighter 5 can bring some of that old nostalgic feeling of going to the arcade and playing against some random stranger only without the threat of him punching you when you knock him out of the ring.
Also, worth mentioning from SEGA is the forthcoming title Ghost Squad for the Wii as it was there in playable form, though I did not get a chance to get hands on time with it. Based on the arcade shooter, Ghost Squad is one of the handful of known games to use the upcoming Wii Zapper peripheral. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s the attachment designed for the Wii that allows you to slip both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk into. It comes in a sort of shape of a gun and looks to potentially be the next big thing in the shooter genre, first person or otherwise. Ghost Squad looks to be a pretty fun game that offers multiple paths, weapons and more importantly for Wii fans a multiplayer experience for 1-4 people. It’s not The House of the Dead, but maybe if this is successful enough they’ll get the hint.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally intended to be released back in July, but because of the website redesign process it was pushed back until now. The content should still be relevant, but we know that some of it might seem a little dated and we appologize for that.
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