Gamescom 2012: Our Top 10 Games of the Show
Written Tuesday, August 21, 2012 By Richard Walker, Dan Webb and Lee Abrahams
2012 has been an interesting year as far as trade shows go. It's very much been the calm before the storm, ahead of the almost certain announcement of next-generation consoles. Most publishers have been coy and reluctant to announce new software because of the impending announcements, whereas those that have dared enter the limelight sooner than the others have been very cagey about what platform their new titles are on - Star Wars 1313 and Watch Dogs are perfect examples of those. They look too good for the current crop of consoles, and usually, if it's too good to be true, it is.
Regardless, Gamescom 2012 has come and gone, and while the lack of new titles and general lack of truly exciting content almost marred a perfectly successful event, the show, they say, must go on! And it has, and as always, we butted uglies and came up with our Top 10 Games of the Show – in descending order, too! Despite the lack of newcomers, let it be heard that 2012 and early 2013 is shaping up to be a very good time for gamers. Very good, indeed.
10. Injustice: Gods Among Us
Superheroes tend to be underpowered when it comes to the fighting genre. After all a punch from Superman would surely have a bit more impact than merely a pinch off the health bar and a bit of a bruise right? Enter NetherRealm, creators of Mortal Kombat, to give us a meaty and satisfying brawler that actually shows off its cast of do-gooders and ne’er do wells in all of their glory.
Forget having multiple rounds, chuck the announcer in the bin and merely watch two comic book titans slug it out over the beautiful and inventive multi-tiered arenas. The speed of the Flash versus the might of Solomon Grundy or the crafty skills of Nightwing versus the warrior princess Wonder Woman, this game ensures that every match is unique and plays out in a variety of unexpected ways. With an unprecedented level of interaction, as characters tear the scenery around them apart, punch each other through buildings or wisely use the parked Batmobile's weapons systems against their foe, this promises to be a DC Comics game like no other.
A game where Superman can punch someone into orbit is one that we are plenty excited to see more of and is guaranteed to settle a few arguments about each characters chances in a fight. Though, obviously, our money is always on Batman.
9. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
It's been ages since the XCOM series last saw the light of day, and with 2K Marin's XCOM FPS on ice for the time being, it's time for Firaxis to resurrect the good old-fashioned XCOM RTS with Enemy Unknown. Stuffed to the gills with aliens to kill, capture and experiment with, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is shaping up to be one of the most feature laden console RTS titles in ages, boasting oodles of depth to boot.
Single-player consists of an absorbing campaign with your ant farm-style HQ giving you access to research and development, as well as a host of missions around the globe. Managing the world's panic level is your remit, and knowing where to strike is key. You're a global alien busting team of badasses, yet when a member of your team croaks, they're not coming back. A strategy game with real, lasting consequences and plenty of alien butt-kicking? We'll have a big ol' portion of that, please!
8. Dead Space 3
There’s a lot that’s been said about Dead Space 3 to-date. “This isn’t Dead Space!” “It didn’t need co-op!” “What das fuck, d00d! It looks like a third-person shooter, not a Dead Space game!!” Well, our eyes-on at E3, our recent hands-on at EA's UK HQ and our Gamescom hands-on do nothing but shout “Hai, guys, this is classic Dead Space right here!!” at us until it’s blue in the face. That’s why Dead Space 3 makes the list and it does so with sublime ease.
When we say Dead Space 3, we’re not talking of that farce of a presentation in the Gamescom press conference – who cares about that sort of stuff? We don’t. No, we’re talking about the out-of-your-seat jumping, spine-tingling, tension building gameplay, which is what it’s all about. Visceral appears to have those survival horror elements nailed once again in what we’ve seen so far. We got involved in some zero-G, solved the odd puzzle, jumped out of our skin with numerous Necromorph encounters and we even got to dabble in the enhanced weapon creation system.
It’s all mouth-watering stuff and we’re honestly grateful that Visceral didn’t create Modern Space Warfare 3, which is what we feared when we first laid eyes on the game at E3. Phew.
7. Assassin's Creed III
Going from strength to strength each and every time we see it, we're still itching to get our mitts on Assassin's Creed III, but for Gamescom we had to make do with another look at the naval battles first revealed at E3. Looking every bit as spectacular as it always does, Assassin's Creed III taking to the high seas initially seemed like a strange decision, but upon seeing the huge galleons launching broadsides at one another, it makes sense.
Launching volleys of cannonballs at enemy galleons or boarding vessels like a pirate looks like a lot of fun, and Connor seems to be just as at home sailing on the waves as he does running through the snow and climbing trees. It's another reason (as if you needed one) to get hyped for Assassin's Creed III, and another string to the franchise's bow. We look forward to setting sail this October.
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
It's always somewhat risky to put a Call of Duty game on this list, as the franchise has had its fair share of detractors alongside the legion of hardened fans who buy each game every single year without question. But here's the thing: Black Ops II actually seems like it could be a genuinely exciting entry in the series, bringing some new ideas and modes into multiplayer and a novel approach to single-player with its tie-in Strike Force mode. It also looks like the 2025 near future setting could be a shot in the arm for the game too, which shouldn't make sense, but just does.
With all manner of gadgets and weapons crammed into the game, alongside some minor innovations for multiplayer, Call of Duty: Black Ops II is the first CoD in some time that's had us turning our heads. Having the opportunity to get our hands on the multiplayer was something that came with a great deal of trepidation, but we're delighted to report that it was a blast to play. Mix in the new 'Pick 10' loadout scheme that aims to balance your gadgets and weapons, as well as the new Scorestreaks that ensure the person with the highest kill/death ratio doesn't stomp all over everyone else, and you have what could be the finest Call of Duty in some time.
And Treyarch hasn't even broken out the Zombies yet! Roll on, November!
5. Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Like E3 2012, Most Wanted was on top form at this year’s Gamescom too, busting out the single-player and more of the multiplayer for the press behind closed doors. To say it’s good old fashioned racing madness doesn’t really do it justice. For one, it’s Criterion, and whatever the Burnout dev touches these days – in terms of racers, especially – seems to turn to gold; maybe not in terms of sales, but definitely in terms of quality.
Secondly, Most Wanted is promising to take the best bits from Need For Speed and splice it with the best aspects of Burnout Paradise. Thirdly, the multiplayer is completely chaotic and utterly addictive. And finally, everything that makes a Most Wanted game – and even a Need For Speed game – what it is, is all exactly as it should be, whether that’s racing against most wanted foes in the single-player “campaign” or running from all level of cops in all facets of the game. There’s going to be something for everyone and if all else fails, get eight mates in and play the multiplayer together.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted could possibly be the most fun group activity you’ll do all year. Well, in terms of a video game, anyway.
4. Far Cry 3
Stranded on a tropical island, fighting for your life against vicious pirates and a psychopath named Vaas, it's a jungle out there in Far Cry 3, and that's no more evident than in our latest hands-on session at Gamescom. With a twentieth of the game's vast open-world available to explore, we got our first real look at just how expansive Far Cry 3 will be with a world map peppered with icons denoting a whole array of activities to complete.
When you're not fighting pirates, you'll be picking flowers and herbs to concoct potions, tangling with bears, tigers, wild dogs and erm... goats, clearing out enemy outposts, racing and activating radio masts to reveal more of the game's enormous map. Of course it helps that Far Cry 3 is an awesome shooter too, with the stealthy bow and arrow, brutal machete takedowns and guns, lots of guns.
Far Cry 3 is one hell of an exciting proposition, making the thought of descending into madness not all that bad.
3. Remember Me
Granted, Remember Me was the only new IP announced at Gamescom this year, but man, oh man does it ever look sweet. A sci-fi yarn in which you slip into the skintight duds of mind hacker extraordinaire Nilin, Remember Me looks to have a great deal of high concept ideas up its sleeve and then some.
Set on the dark streets of Neo-Paris circa 2084, you're on the run from the devious Memoreyes corporation when Nilin loses her memories and joins the underground resistance. Thankfully, not only is Nilin blessed with the ability to hack into the memories of other people, but she can remix them too. The example we saw had Nilin scrambling a police chief's brain so that he wrongly remembered killing his wife. You actually play through the memory to get it just right, then back in the present, real world, you'll watch as your target grabs hold of the memory you've just remixed.
Remember Me is looking like it could well be one to watch in the run up to its launch in May 2013. Let's hope the finished article is unforgettable.
2. Borderlands 2
We really didn't need any more convincing where Borderlands 2 was concerned. Let's be honest, we were all practically sold on day one. But nonetheless, Gearbox's sequel just keeps looking better and better every time we're lucky enough to get our hands on it. This time we were given time in co-op with one of the game's battle arenas, but before you start having terrifying flashbacks and cold sweats about the previous game's Mad Moxxi DLC, it's not nearly as punishing as that was.
What the Gamescom demo allowed us to see was the sheer range and variety of guns you'll be showered with, and the amount of fun you'll be having with it all. Each character's skill tree promises incredible, eye-popping and devastating abilities, while the new customisation options offer a wealth of outfits and heads for your chosen vault hunter.
It all plays like a dream of course, and the vivid art style and sense of humour – such as the 'Innuendo Robot' who lords it over the arena – are all still present and correct. The best thing of all? We only have to wait about three weeks for the full game to drop. As the Innuendo Robot would say, “5-4-3-2-1 Sex!”
It should come as no surprise that Bethesda and Arkane's shooter-with-a-difference is in the running for our Top 10 Games of Gamescom 2012 feature, especially considering the dazzling previews to-date and the talent behind the game (including Harvey Smith of Deus Ex fame). It should also not surprise you that this badboy came first – it’s pretty damn hard to find anything truly wrong with the game at the moment, which by our standards, even we find hard to believe… Maybe we’ll criticise a small, cute puppy in the meantime just to restore normality to the world.
With a brand new level on show, Arkane’s shooter at Gamescom 2012 revealed a new side to its assassination proceedings, with Bethesda and co. unveiling a mission that not only needs thought and careful planning – if you want to perform a meaningful takedown, that is – but one that needs investigation, perseverance and can even play on your morals if you let it. It’s not just brilliant fun to play, it’s addictive and hugely original too. That’s a win-win in our books!
Keep it locked to PS3T in the coming weeks to cast your eyes over a veritable tidal wave of Gamescom 2012 coverage, with some marvellous interviews and damn tasty previews for your delectation. Yummy.