World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions 2007
Bit of a dark horse to spend such a lot of time discussing at their pre-E3 show after little more than a mention for Call of Duty 3 and Spiderman 3, but this looks like a competent poker game, the 'Tony Hawk's' of the Poker world of anything, featuring a huge range of poker professionals such as, um, Jennifer Tilly(?) and, yes! Your favourite and mine, Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson. I'm sure we all know him, right? (Right?). Good ol' Jesus acts as your mentor in the career mode, who will train you up from a poor rookie playing the dollar tables in Reno (or something) up to a real competitor in the Tournament of Champions, an invitational tournament held yearly for the cream of the crop.
Of course, you might be able to dress it up with Digimask's facial avatar technology (and put your own ugly mug in the gameO), career modes, and nice graphics, but it is just a poker game, and one that relies more on luck than on skill. The core mechanics of the game seem sound, however, with a clear and intuitive interface. All of the betting options can be performed using one context sensitive stick, and each of the poker professionals have had their play styles analyzed and placed in the game, so if you've ever wanted to play poker against, say Jennifer Tilly, or a man who calls himself Jesus, it's as close as you're going to get, probably.
Oh yes, and there's also a lot of online modes and stuff. But who'd play poker against other people, online, not for money? I mean, what's the point of that?
World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions 2007 is due on Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC in autumn.
The Movies: Stunts and Effects Expansion Pack
Naturally only of particular interest for those who have either bought The Movies or plans on buying The Movies, there's therefore only one thing I really need to tell you about it. It lets you use a free roaming camera during shots. As in, you can place your camera anywhere you like. You can even move it during a shot. This is probably tremendously exciting for those of you struggling with wildly over-complex plans for your machinima, as it allows you complete control - well, within the boundaries of the props and characters in the game, natch. This is why it's nice that this expansion pack adds an extensive amount of extra possibilities for films, including, joyfully, shots using miniatures. And yes, you can create a miniature city and have a character in a rubber suit stomp about in it. Green screen effects and lower tech rolling backdrop effects are available, and for use in larger sets they've added the ability to create impressive car stunts such as jumps and crashes. The stunts are a new and important part of the actual 'game' part of The Movies (as if anyone remembers that bit) with actors now able to be injured and stuntmen available to be hired to take their part during dangerous stunts. It's naturally a better idea for them to look alike, but, you know, if you want a large black man to stunt double for your pretty blonde starlet you probably can.
The presentation ended with a short little trailer made by the chaps at Lionhead for a joke film made with all the new techniques on offer called Heavy Duty. Featuring large amounts of gunplay, car crashes, explosion and people falling out of windows, it was a classy piece of 1980's action cinema and bodes well for the new possibilities this expansion pack should add to The Movies.
The Movies: Stunts and Effects is due for Windows PC this summer.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
The final demonstration of the day was an impressive group demo of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, the interesting development that marks out Enemy Territory as its own series, albeit one which uses other series settings (Wolfenstien and now Quake) to create its particular brand of team based military FPS titles.
The choice of the Quake setting is an odd development when you consider already how confusing that already is, with the first and third titles not having much to do with anything. But, wisely, this game takes its cues from 2 and 4, and attempts to expand upon and clarify the setting, working as a prequel to them. It is (apparently) 2065 and the Strogg army has invaded Earth, with their invasion bitterly opposed by the Earth Defense Force. The demonstration didn't show any details of the Stroggs other than in screenshots and as distant opponents, but there are supposed to be significant differences between the teams, the asymmetrical nature of the warfare apparently one of the selling points.
We're told that, for example, while the EDF have 'classic' medics, they hand out health packs and can call in supplies, the Stroggs have technicians, as Stroggs use a substance called 'stroyant' for both ammunition and health. How do you create stroyant? By sucking it out of human corpses, of course! Stroggs also have the advantage that fresh human corpses can be turned into 'hosts' for respawning Stroggs, to increase their effectiveness on the front lines.
While the teams are very different, the game's interface and style is highly akin to the original Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, right down to the deployment screen (but naturally the graphics are far and away more impressive and there are far more tactical options on offer.)
We watched as a EDF Field Ops character called for a helicopter to drop off artillery at the EDF base, drove a speedy buggy through cross country terrain (intentionally designed to be inaccessible to the larger vehicles) to a critical flashpoint, before calling an artillery strike to allow EDF mechanics to build a mission critical bridge.
Later he took a short trip in both an attack helicopter then a transport helicopter further into enemy territory to show us the range of vehicles on offer and the impressive architecture of the levels from an aerial vantage point.
Currently planned for PC only, it's debatable whether the asymmetrical warfare in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars can tempt Battlefield players away, but it does look like it will suit players of the traditionally faster paced, more exciting Wolfenstien: Enemy Territory.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is due on Windows PC at an undetermined point in the future.