Acclaim Austin has been pumping out interesting games for quite a while now, and ECTS will play host to a couple of the biggest, while also showcasing the works of Criterion and Aggressive Inline developer Z-Axis. Acclaim is a publisher that aims to be taken very seriously in 2003, and ECTS is a pedestal to launch that campaign.
One of the games we're most looking forward to playing at this year's show, Vexx is a Jak & Daxter-alike platform game with a darker storyline. The eponymous Vexx is bound by two ancient gauntlets of immense power, which he half-inched from main baddy Dark Yabu, and in the strongest of platforming traditions, this quirky augmentation of his regular abilities plunges him into a quest to save the four fragments of his homeworld. Cue platforms, jumping and lots of bouncing on heads, right? Wrong. Vexx is more of a Wolverine character, dispatching enemies in an increasingly complicated manner with beat 'em up-style combinations and a frenzy attack, as well as familiar ability upgrades like power swimming and power jumping.
The game has been in development for well over two years now, and this year's ECTS will be our first chance to see it in action, and establish how it plans to push the swollen platform genre forward. Related Feature - Vexx preview
The original Burnout met with a mixed reception from the critics, but gamers almost unanimously loved it, and the second game promises more of the same, dispensing with the pleasantries of story and design fodder in favour of refining the driving experience. For those unfamiliar with Burnout, it's a simple game of fast-as-you-can, with complicated (and in the sequel's case, beautifully detailed) courses full of other motorists going about their business. Your job is to race rival drivers around these tracks without smashing into things. You accelerate almost continuously, making it harder and harder to avoid collision, but the adrenaline-pumping race is interrupted by spectacular crashes, replayed by the game and rated by damage costs before you're allowed to continue.
For Burnout 2, Criterion is promising much more than a simple Renderware demonstration, and early evidence suggests that cars can now be splintered, crumpled and downright devastated given the right amount of oomph. We can't wait to get our hands on it and crash some more cars.
Dave Mirra BMX XXX
After delivering one of the best skating games since the original Tony Hawk in the shape of Aggressive Inline, Z-Axis is applying its devious talents to the spiritual successor to Dave Mirra's BMX. Described as a mixture of Aggressive Inline and Dave Mirra's previous outings, we fully expect the same level of depth seen in the former with the rough mechanics of the latter tweaked as well as they can be.
The real pulling power of the game though is said to be its naughtiness, and you can expect to hear about our amusement at the childish japes of in-game characters, streets lined with prostitutes yelling "You suck harder than I do" as well as kids pissing in pools, dogs doing their business and other token hilarity. And obviously, we're expecting the same level of breast jigglyness and other sexist content witnessed in Aggressive Inline. Then again, we're also expecting the same level of playability and openness, with levels twice as big as they initially look. If ECTS confirms our suspicions about the game, it could be another shot across the bows of the Tony Hawk series.
It's nearly here, with promotion after headline-grabbing promotion issuing forth from the creative marketing bods at Acclaim. But whether you plan to change your name to Turok or not, you can't escape the calling of this latest episode. Boasting a delightful new graphics engine devoid of the hateful fog, and a prequel storyline packed with pre-Turok dinos and other monstrosities, there's a lot of potential in this one.
Although the game is due out in the US on September 1st ("Turok Bloody Sunday"), only a day after the show, there is still a lot to be seen. We got our first glimpse of the game with creator David Dienstbier back in May, but there are still question marks over how it plays and whether it can sustain itself for another adventure. Promising a deeper and more believable environment, with indigenous creatures like baboons and lemurs roaming the landscape as you stalk through it, and AI-controlled dinos that hunt in packs and lure you into ambushes, this could be the game to capture the magic of scenarios wasted by previous dino games.
Hopefully by the time the show hits we'll have a bit of grounding with the full version of the game, but we'll be sure to let you know about any 11th hour changes and how the game is being received when we talk to Acclaim on Thursday.