As I’m sure you are aware that some of us at Zath have recently visited the Euogamer Expo’s at both Leeds and London, and this is the first of a few posts having a look at some of the games I got to have a go on at the latter and picking out some of the best ones just in time for Christmas (now less than two months away for those of you not counting!).
So on with the games, and today I’ll be starting with two fairly dissimilar ones in the form of ‘Avatar’ and ‘Professor Layton & Pandora’s Box’ which were played on the PS3 and Nintendo DS respectively!
Avatar – The Game (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP)
Firstly we have Avatar, the game spin off from the yet-to-be released film, which was one of the more popular games on offer. Following roughly the same story as the film (or at least I imagine it does, I didn’t play the whole thing!) it’s set in the lush rainforest-like environment that is the planet Pandora and that is probably the most impressive feature in the game: the world it’s set in manages to feel both expansive (with massive surprisingly realistic trees looming in the distance) whilst not letting you walk forever in the wrong direction which is quite nice.
As far as the actual action goes it starts off well with a nice selection of weapons, a neat system for choosing them and a well integrated PDA feature which allows you to identify enemies from a distance. However these ‘enemies’ are invariably plants or animals (which don’t quite result in the same ‘satisfaction’ from killing something intelligent!), but when some good old fashioned human (or alien) AI get involved that also proves to be one of the strong points in the game.
Far too often in these kinds of games the other people on your ‘team’ are really only there to pad out the game, and become more of a hindrance than a help. But in Avatar I have to say I was impressed with the ‘intelligence’ of the AI as they didn’t seem to run around aimlessly, and were some help.
But by far the selling point of this game will be its 3D capabilities which you will be able to make the most of with a combination of your Xbox 360 or PS3 console and a 120Hz capable stereoscopic enabled TV with HDMI output — and although I didn’t get a chance to check this out at the Expo the word is that it’s done very well, and really adds to an already pretty good game!
My only minor qualm would be the irritating way in which you have to shoot lots of little buzzing, flying or ‘scampering’ creatures with the painfully inaccurate analogue sticks, but I’m sure that’s just a personal preference (as a PC fan!) and that those more experienced than myself would be more than capable of managing it!
Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box (DS)
Next I thought I’d look at Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box, which although has been released for a while I haven’t been able to see if it lives up to the hype, and I have to say that unlike Avatar I was somewhat disappointed.
Firstly I think it’s probably only fair to point out that it did suffer from being surrounded by more action packed games on far more developed consoles, but despite that I felt pretty underwhelmed. The game moved painfully slow, and having to wait for everybody to say things was to time intensive I took to looking through the show guide whilst waiting.
When the puzzles did come they were fiddly, pretty simplistic and ultimately pointless and I felt a certain degree of apathy towards the professor and whoever he was trying to save. Despite all this I do think it is an alright game, and the reason for this is that it is not aimed at me — despite the fact I know it’s bad for me I like games with fast cars, guns, blood and cheesy one liners and I really don’t have the time or the attention span to sit down and look for a hidden key in a wardrobe. I’d much rather watch some Russian Mafia guard loose his head to a sniper bullet. But that’s just me!
However despite my obvious moral deficiencies I can see how this game could be enjoyed by people both older and younger than me, and I think that if you have the time to sit down and get stuck into the story it may grow on you much like the first game; Professor Layton and the Curious Village did with one of our other games writers; Ender.
Stay tuned for more round-ups of what we saw at the Eurogamer Expos, and what new video games you can look forward to seeing soon!