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Raptor-ous Acclaim for Turok, Vexx, Burnout 2

BMX XXX, Legends of Wrestling 2, Burnout 2, Vexx

Acclaim's stand is located towards the back of ECTS, and rather like Ubi Soft Acclaim has spent most of its estate on wining and dining journos in a private area, complete with foosball table and snacks (quite enjoyable when your sole meal for the day was at 8:15am). Out the back though we found demo pods showing off the likes of Hardcore BMX XXX, Legends of Wrestling 2, Burnout 2 and Vexx. Not to mention Turok, of course, although if you really want to see that in action you could always buy it when it appears this Sunday. BMX XXX caught our eyes not because of its gaming content, but because as we were standing next door chatting to somebody, we couldn't help but notice that the screen was replaced by what appeared to be a virtual peepshow every five or so minutes. Curious, we rounded the corner and discovered that along with foul-mouthed characters and NPCs handing out tasks, and screens generally full of debauchery flanking this Tony Hawk-on-a-bike extravaganza, you can collect coins which unlock video reels of young girls in tight outfits dancing rather voluptuously. Sadly we didn't have enough time on our hands to thoroughly, ahem, research this aspect of the game, but otherwise it was shaping up nicely. The mechanics are very much like the previous Dave Mirra titles - understandably so, as the game is based on the Dave Mirra 2 engine - but Hardcore BMX XXX will be released as a separate entity outside of Acclaim's licensed biking series. Legends of Wrestling 2 was also on hand in all its sweat-soaked glory, with bulky incarnations of Hulk Hogan, Brett Hart, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and co. battling it out old-school. LOW wasn't terribly well received, but it won kudos for its attempts to emphasize wrestling over gimmickry. LOW2 appears to have improved matters to a certain extent, with a much more solid-looking game engine behind the grappling and throttling. Action frequently spills out of the ring and into the concourse and the two-player head-to-head modes were pulling plenty of players, not to mention spectators. Plenty of game modes populate the menus and although we didn't get to try all of them, there seemed to be a decent variety of match-types and of course in the region of 21 characters to play with. Next up on our list of must-see titles was Burnout 2: Point of Impact. At times, I had to ask myself whether the PS2 was really rendering all this, because considering the framerate, the level of detail on the cars and the buildings which stretch into the very distance, Burnout 2 was a decidedly beautiful game to play. The reason it looks so good though is the 'shiny' factor. The road glistens, bathed in sun, with what appears to be environmental bump mapping accentuating every little fleck of dust on the road surface. Either that or it's some mighty impressive texturing. Despite all this visual tomfoolery and a lorryload of trackside furniture spicing up proceedings, the game manages to retain its sense of speed between spectacular collisions, and the gameplay is as frenetic as fans of the original will remember. Track design is fiendish to say the least, with turns that challenge you to risk all and not hit the brakes as you roar into them. A wide variety of cars splinter and shatter violently - all in the name of fun - and of course, the replays help to demonstrate just how violently with alarming and costly regularity. One title which wasn't grabbing too much attention, but which, naturally, caught ours, was Acclaim Austin's Xbox version of Vexx. Repeatedly labelled a Jak & Daxter-alike, the game had no qualms about living up to that moniker, and it did so with style and finesse. Visually it matches the sprawling vistas of J&D, which won us over so convincingly last year, and although texture quality is a bit hit and miss, Vexx himself was suitably detailed, and the developer has been unafraid of zooming in and showing him off, along with the real-time shadowing he shares with the game's plethora of bad guys. Vexx's gauntlets allow him to perform a three-stage attack in several guises. On the ground, he can swipe, swipe and slash brutally on the third stroke, and holding the left trigger and then swiping leads Vexx to crouch and uppercut through the air, finishing either with a brutal downward thrust to eviscerate his prey or by landing first and continuing to uppercut again and again. Once we'd got a handle on this technique we heard plenty of maniacal chuckles emanating from the area behind us. Good to know we were in suitably psychopathic company. Vexx possesses many other talents besides his good looks and penchant for violence. Underwater he can swim like a fish, and when he finds a suitable surface he can clamber up walls gauntlet-over-gauntlet, showering the ground in sparks as he slides down again. And although we didn't see it ourselves, apparently the little fellow can jump like a crazed gazelle and become momentarily invincible with the right power-up. The game was in a pretty unfinished state, although the basic tenets of gameplay mechanics were well underway. The enemies are still a little basic and there was a degree of jerkiness, particularly when executing the aforementioned attacking manoeuvres, but we collected several Wraith Hearts - Vexx's equivalent of stars or golden eggs - one for working our way up a mountain, one for collecting a certain number of blue 'shards', and one for defeating a rather unpleasant mini-boss, before we were hurled off the machine by a group of impatient upstarts. Between Burnout 2, Vexx, Turok and the other titles on display, it was clear that Acclaim means business for the next year.

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The speakers were mostly for show