Ubisoft’s Summer Beach Spectacular

A couple of weeks I was lucky enough to attend a Ubisoft event during which I got to spend some quality hands-on time with Ubisofts forthcoming titles. Unfortunately, a weeks holiday and then Camp Bestival got in the way of me sharing my thoughts. Fortunately I’m doing it now- hurrah for me!

Gaming has been a passion of mine that got put on the backburner when we had kids- too much to do all the time and so on but as the boy creeps towards an age where he’ll be able to be soundly thrashed at all manner of games, my interest is slowly returning.

Ubisoft have a veritable smorgasbord of titles due out over the next few months. I got to play a lot of them, some were not really my cup of tea but some were right up my street and I absolutely loved them. I’ll give you a quick run down of some of the more enjoyable ones.

Rayman Origins – PS3

At an event that also showcased the new Assassin’s Creed game, Tintin in 3D and Driver, it’s odd that the most spectacular game from a visual perspective was Rayman Origins. The gorgeous graphics are seamlessly animated and backed up by proper platforming action too. Fortunately it’s no stroll in the park either, although some clever multiplayer mechanics ensure that if there is more than one player, dying is something that can be avoided for a fair proportion of the time. When your character is pranged, he inflates and drifts around the screen, eventually popping and dying. If the other player can land a well placed punch before you pop, you’re resurrected.

The levels on display encompassed lush jungles and pesky bat-filled pyramids, the former showcasing the jumping and swinging mechanics, whilst the latter really showed off the lighting and some of the more strategic play. Whether it was too many cocktails or a lack of recent platform gaming, the pyramid level seemed jolly hard. Basically the player has to hit a series of gongs in order to get a torch that gradually diminishes, allowing the killer bats to get closer and closer, making it a madcap dash across the levels, with limited visibility to boot. Great fun all in all and probably the highlight of the Ubisoft show.

From Dust – Xbox 360

If the chap from Ubisoft was tired of hearing people tell him that From Dust is very reminiscent of Populous, the Promised Lands, then he didn’t show it. Apart from maybe that tick in the corner of his left eye. Graphically the game is incredibly lush – you can see for yourself below. Meanwhile, playing the game itself quickly dispels any concerns over whether there is enough to do and whether a game controller is up to the job that everyone got so proficient doing with a mouse. The left trigger picks up matter, the right one sets it down. The right bumper zooms in and out, the right stick rotates and the left stick moves you about. And that is about that, wonderfully simple really.

I spent a good ten minutes trying to break the in-game logic by completely ignoring my tribe and trying to extinguish a volcano by diverting a waterfall into the Caldera. I’m convinced I could have made it work too if it hadn’t been for the queue forming behind me. It’s a game that really encourages dicking about too, it looks nice enough that you sort of want to drop a huge ball of water onto your tribe’s long established village, just to see the huts sink back into the ground.

Priced at 800 MS points, this is going to be the must have downloadable game of the year and it is really completely baffling that nobody has done this sort of game already. And you know what? It’s out now which should hopefully have you scuttling off to your Xboxes right this minute.

The four big games that will probably garner the most attention are Farcry 3, Assassins Creed 3, the latest instalment in the Driver series and the brand spanking new Ghost Recon game. I think these are gearing up to be great fun but look mostly evolutionary not revolutionary, even if Farcry 3 looks quite frankly astonishing. As a Dad though, I don’t think I’ll have the spare time to sink into them to get the most out of them, even if the weapon design part of Ghost Recon (that uses the Kinect motion controller brilliantly) looks ace.

No, for me its good old fashioned platformers and “God” games, and that’s the sort of stuff the 4 year old will definitely begin his induction into gaming with (if I can ever prise the Mario Kart steering wheel out of his hands at any rate).