Sierra Spring Break Roundup

Bourne, World in Conflict, Crash, Spyro.

It was all sun, sand, sea and Sierra games for Eurogamer the other week when the artist formerly known as Vivendi took us on a press trip to Mallorca. You might have already seen our previews of Ghostbusters, Prototype and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, but they weren't the only games on show.

For starters there was The Bourne Conspiracy. Who cares if it hasn't got Matt Damon in as long as you still get to stab people with biros? Then we took a look at World in Conflict: Soviet Assault, the console follow-up to last year's hit RTS. Read on to find out if they've managed to design a non-rubbish control system.

The second-least surprising revelation of the trip was the announcement Sierra is doing a new Crash Bandicoot game (the first was that the new Crash Bandicoot game has got an ice level). No one was shocked to hear there's another Spyro title coming too but you might be surprised to learn it looks very different to the previous instalments, and quite good. No really no wait don't go.

The Bourne Conspiracy

It's not been long since we published a big old preview of The Bourne Conspiracy. There wasn't much new on show in Spain; the level where our hero escapes from the US Embassy in Zurich was shown again, along with the driving mission.

But this time there was the opportunity to go hands-on and battle one of the game's bosses. The two-button system gives you light and heavy attacks, and you can string these together to pull off combos. Or you can just hammer away in any old fashion and enjoy reasonable success, I found. Simple, but satisfying.

Plus, the option to use objects in the environment adds an interesting dynamic. Objects you can use have a bright sheen to them so as to be easily identifiable. The idea is you maneouvre your enemy near an object, then press B when the relevant icon appears to make use of it. You can pick up a pen and stab your opponent in the hand with it, for example, just like in The Bourne Identity. Or you can whack enemies with books, push their faces into a sink of water, batter them with fire extinguishers and so on. It might sound a bit Itchy and Scratchy but the realistic animations and some excellent sound effects mean the overall effect is cinematic rather than cartoony.

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The worst of it all was Bourne couldn't remember where he'd left his Burton's store card.

It probably helps that Jeff Imada, stunt co-ordinator for the Bourne films, choreographed the fights in the game, and Matt Damon's body double did the motion capture. Developer High Moon has also been working with screenwriter Tony Gilroy, and Franka Potente has provided a voice-over. There's no sign of Damon himself, however, apparently because he's lost interest in the Bourne franchise altogether. Instead you play as a generic Bourne who has no distinguishing features apart from a horrible cardigan.

One thing which might cause more controversy than Matt Damon's absence is the decision to include quick-time events in the game. "I know they're hit and miss with journalists and consumers. Some people love them, some people hate them, some people think they're overused," observes High Moon's Meelad Sadat.

He reckons the game's designers have done everything possible to ensure the QTEs enhance the gameplay experience, rather than making you want to kill them. For example, there are checkpoints immediately before each QTE, so you don't have to replay whole 10-minute sections if you mess them up. And there are good reasons for including QTEs, according to Sadat.

"We wanted to create the types of situation you see in the film and make them interactive. Those could have been cut-scenes; we could have made it so you sit back, you see a crazy Bourne moment for three seconds, then you're back in the action," he observes. "At the end of the day you guys can decide whether they're overused or not. But there is a logic to it. It wasn't like, 'Hey, let's just throw some button presses in here to make it look cool.'"

It does look cool, though, as does plenty else about The Bourne Conspiracy. Soon you'll be able to see for yourself - the demo is released on XBLA on May 19th and PlayStation Network on May 22nd.

The Bourne Conspiracy will be released for PS3 and Xbox 360 on 27th June.

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